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Shopping Insurance
Old 10-27-2018, 12:42 PM   #1
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Shopping Insurance

We spend a good chunk each year to insure our house, cottage, vehicles, boat, and ATV. We have been with the same insurance provider for over 30 years and have always been very satisfied with them. However, I'm thinking it makes sense to shop our insurance needs to find out if there are better choices available. I'm also thinking about looking into identity theft insurance.

How does one shop these various kinds of insurance policies efficiently and effectively? Thanks for your help.
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Old 10-27-2018, 01:03 PM   #2
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In our state, it's hard to get homeowners insurance without bundling the auto insurance together. Often, the first year premium quotations will be very low to get your business. Look up 3-4 years later, and homeowners premiums have raised to 150% of what the house is worth. The insurance company uses computer programs that compute what it would cost to rebuild the house--and it may or may not be accurate. But the fallacy is that if you have a total loss and choose not to rebuild, they will pay you a highly depreciated value--not the amount of insurance you've been paying premiums on.

Note that there are only 5 large insurance companies with 50% of the U.S. insurance business. They may all be somewhat generic in premiums, etc. Claims service is okay with them. But the top companies are Amico and USAA in customer satisfaction year after year. Another way to go is through an independent agent representing numerous companies like AutoOwners.

We have State Farm on 2 cars and moved homeowners when their premiums raised. We also have Allstate on 2 cars and no one is nearly as low on our lake house homeowners coverage. Our main residence is with Essurance online which is Allstate's online company. Essurance was very thorough on underwriting--checking us out closely with Lexis/Nexis and the credit bureau FICO scores.

The best thing anyone can do is keep low losses on current insurance and maintain a good FICO score. Then get out there and shop for new insurance every 3-5 years or when premiums raise dramatically..
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Old 10-27-2018, 01:06 PM   #3
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Keep in mind that many types of insurance now lure you in via low first-year rates. Those rates are jacked up rapidly during subsequent years.
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Old 10-27-2018, 01:29 PM   #4
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... How does one shop these various kinds of insurance policies efficiently and effectively? Thanks for your help.
Talk to friends and identify a couple of independent insurance agents who can shop your business to multiple carriers. Absolutely avoid the tied agents like State Farm, etc. Although they are technically not employees of the tied carrier they are effectively vassals with total loyalty to their carrier. You want an agent who is on your side and who will work with you if there are any claims issues. Independent agents have clout with the carriers because they can take their clients' business elsewhere if the carrier becomes a problem. They can also tell you honestly about a particular carrier's reputation.

About every two or three years I ask our agent to re-shop our insurance.

Take the "dec" (declarations) pages from all your insurance policies, scan them and black out the premium $ information. Then give them to your chosen agents to ensure that they are shopping apples to apples.
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Old 10-27-2018, 04:43 PM   #5
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Talk to friends and identify a couple of independent insurance agents who can shop your business to multiple carriers. Absolutely avoid the tied agents like State Farm, etc. Although they are technically not employees of the tied carrier they are effectively vassals with total loyalty to their carrier. You want an agent who is on your side and who will work with you if there are any claims issues.

I would caution against taking an absolute approach in avoiding "tied agents". In shopping our insurance over the past 3 consecutive years, it has been a local Farmers insurance agent that has beaten out all others for our business. And that includes 2 different independent agents. We did have a claims issue this past summer and our Farmers agent handled it in a responsive manner. YMMV


About every two or three years I ask our agent to re-shop our insurance.

Take the "dec" (declarations) pages from all your insurance policies, scan them and black out the premium $ information. Then give them to your chosen agents to ensure that they are shopping apples to apples.
We also use our policy declaration pages, blacking out premium $$ and send those electronically to agents for quotes.
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Old 10-27-2018, 04:55 PM   #6
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Going on my 4th year with Amica and am pleasantly surprised how they have not jacked rates.

BTW, when I read this thread, I thought it was "shopping insurance," like, how to distract your spouse so they don't go out and spend a lot of money shopping. Seriously!
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Old 10-27-2018, 05:03 PM   #7
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Pick a couple independent brokers. Next Door is a good source because you can get feedback from dozens if not hundreds of neighbors. Then let the broker do their job. We ask our agent to bid it every year. Loyalty is not rewarded when it comes to insurance. Bid and move it often is my advice.
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Old 10-27-2018, 05:07 PM   #8
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BTW, when I read this thread, I thought it was "shopping insurance," like, how to distract your spouse so they don't go out and spend a lot of money shopping. Seriously!
I've been told that those shopping insurance policies have scant coverage, exorbitant premiums and high out-of-pocket costs.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:14 AM   #9
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It’s easy to find independent insurance brokers. Last year I contacted two brokerage firms and had them bid our desired coverages out. I was pleasantly surprised that they couldn’t beat the rates we were getting from our Allstate agent that we’ve been with for 20+ years. We will likely repeat this process every 2-3 years as it required minimal effort.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:19 AM   #10
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I've been told that those shopping insurance policies have scant coverage, exorbitant premiums and high out-of-pocket costs.
And the deductible is never met. It appears to be nearly infinite.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:24 AM   #11
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A couple of posters have mentioned that they shop around yearly to get those discounted rates.
I asked my company "Liberty Mutual" that if I left you for one year and then came back, would I get a discounted rate below what I am paying now - the response was YES.
Still not willing at this point to shop around yearly.
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Old 10-28-2018, 11:16 AM   #12
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Splash, since you're in Wisconsin I'd suggest seeking out an independent agent who writes Erie Insurance policies. While we have yet to file a claim with them, their service gets high ratings in consumer surveys, and our premiums have remained within a couple of dollars from when we became insured by them six or seven years ago.
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:07 PM   #13
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I shop around every 2-3 years or any time the rates go up more than a low, single-digit percentage. I usually swap around between Farmers, Liberty Mutual, and Progressive. I always get quotes from those three plus two independent agents in our area. The quotes from the independents are never competitive. Not even close. And the companies they recommend are small outfits I've never heard of.

Progressive is almost always the lowest on auto, but not competitive at all on homeowners. But we lose multi-policy discounts if we split it up. So last several years, the best deal is usually bundling everything together at Farmers or Liberty Mutual, including umbrella. With some more research, there might be a better deal by breaking things up but that would take a lot of work and is complicated, if not impossible, due to the coordination of umbrella with the underlying auto and home policies.

I just scan the dec pages with premiums blacked out and start emailing them around. Then fill in a spreadsheet as responses come in. The basic coverage amounts are easy enough to compare but it still gets complicated comparing polices. Nothing is completely apples-to-apples. For example, Farmers includes a no-deductible glass coverage on homeowners which we've used several times at ~$800 ea. So if we save $300/yr with Liberty but then have another $800 broken window, we would have been better off with Farmers.
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:12 PM   #14
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I tried Liberty Mutual one time. After the deal was done they sent some kind of freelance inspector to look at my house. He reported such sins as "gutters need cleaning" and "tree branches against house." I was expected to remedy these sins to his satisfaction to avoid having coverage dropped. I saved them the trouble and cancelled the policy, going with an alternative bid that I had. I don't know if these post-deal inspections are common or not, but as far as I am concerned they are not acceptable. If a carrier wants an inspection they can pay for it before accepting the deal.
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Old 10-28-2018, 07:33 PM   #15
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Can't hurt to go off of this list by state... https://www.consumerreports.org/car-...car-insurance/ Nobody can touch USAA for me. Progressive is cheaper, but they don't go as high on liability, and they don't do umbrella quotes online, and I would need an umbrella to match the $1 mil liability I have on my USAA policy.
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Old 10-30-2018, 01:25 PM   #16
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OP here.

Thank you everyone for sharing your experiences and suggestions.
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Old 10-30-2018, 01:30 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by JoeWras View Post
Going on my 4th year with Amica and am pleasantly surprised how they have not jacked rates.

BTW, when I read this thread, I thought it was "shopping insurance," like, how to distract your spouse so they don't go out and spend a lot of money shopping. Seriously!
1. After decades with AMICA, they doubled our homeowners' rate for 2019. Maybe a monster hailstorm in 2017 in Denver had something to do with that? I still like AMICA and working with them on the hailstorm damage ($35K) has been good. Not thinking about changing.

2. Where do I buy this wife distraction insurance? Could really use it.
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