Treat your insurance agent well. He or she is invaluable. If you ever run into trouble with an insurance carrier, your agent can help bail you out. Because laws in the United States lean greatly in favor of large business interests, consumers are nearly powerless if a carrier decides to terminate their coverage.
Once you are dumped, it will be very difficult to find someone else to insure you because you are now considered undesirable.
Or, you might have to go with a high-risk insurer, which will charge outrageous premiums, probably several times what you now pay for the same amount of coverage.
Right now, dumping customers, even if their payment record is flawless, is happening on an epidemic level. That’s partly because insurers are seeking to recoup losses caused by calamities from hurricanes and other large-scale disasters. Letting go of customers whom they fear could file a claim seems like a smart business decision, at least from their perspective.
It might seem as if one insurance agent is as good as another, and it doesn’t make much difference whom you go with. That might have been the case at one time. But, because it’s such a tough market, you need someone who will work with you and for you.
If you are dropped, your trusted agent can then steer you in the right direction. He or she has a relationship with different underwriters. These are the folks who decide if you’re a good risk or not. This can make all the difference in whether a new policy is approved.
Your agent can also direct you to the more ethical companies, which don’t drop customers just because they happen to file a claim. In today’s environment, filing too many claims too quickly can get you dropped. In fact, some experts recommend not even calling an insurer directly with questions about relatively minor incidents. Perhaps you may not want to take the chance of filing a claim for something that’s not catastrophic.
The insurance industry is very powerful and they have us in a bind. We all need insurance, and we are largely at their mercy.
Flickr photo (thumbnail) by Alan Cleaver