6 Things to Look For in Home Insurance Mailers

Ever had something like this through the mail? Most likely you receive several of them every year in the lead-up to your home insurance renewal. They may sound tempting …. but how do you know if it’s a good quote? What should you be looking for? Let Memorial Insurance be your guide!:

  1. Coverage amounts: Do these match your current policy? They are often lower, because less coverage means a cheaper price. Your agent has several tools available to work out exactly how much your home should be insured for.
  2. Bells and Whistles: On this quote, $1,000,000 in personal liability is eye-catching, especially if your current policy offers “only” $300,000 or $500,000. But if you have an umbrella policy (which you should!), you’ll already have the high liability coverage anyway. And if you want to add higher liability to a homeowners policy, it’s only going to cost a few bucks a year. So this feature is not nearly as impressive as it sounds!
  3. Extended Replacement Cost: Some agents offer relatively low dwelling coverage amounts, but add the extended replacement cost endorsement and tell you it’s additional coverage for your home. This is not true. Extended replacement cost applies when a large area is afflicted by a catastrophe (for example a Category 4 hurricane), and the subsequent increased demand for materials and contractors pushes repair costs sky-high. This endorsement allows for extra coverage but ONLY in the event that replacement cost increases in your area as a direct result of a natural disaster. If faulty wiring causes your house to burn to the ground, you’ll get only your basic Dwelling Coverage amount from your insurance company.
  4. Deductibles: This quote headlines with the 1% deductible, but notice the cheeky 5% deductible in the middle? This part is the deductible for a named hurricane. If you keep in mind that named hurricanes are one of the leading causes of insurance claims in many states, including Texas, do you really want to be on the hook for a 5% deductible the next time a major weather event blows through? In the case of this particular policy, you’d be looking at a $30,000+ out of pocket payment before the insurance company stepped in to take care of the rest. If this is something you can afford and would be happy to pay for, then stop reading here! In Houston, a 2% hurricane deductible is standard, with 1% also available in some areas. At Memorial Insurance, we’d be happy to provide several quotes with different deductibles so you can make an informed choice and NOT get a nasty surprise after the next hurricane.
  5. Total Premium: The advertised rate on this quote is NOT the final price, it is a guess based on you having the best possible credit and zero prior claims. To get the final rate, insurance carriers run an “insurance score” taking into account the above plus many other factors. More than nine times out of ten, when you call the agent to take the quote, your premium will increase.
  6. Exclusions: Sure, this quote tells you that your contents are insured for replacement cost. But how about the roof? See my earlier blog post for details of why you do NOT want an Actual Cash Value (ACV) policy. Moreover, are water coverages (slow seepage, water backup, foundation water damage) included? Most likely not, because these increase the premium, which would make for a less impressive mailout!

Moral of the story: if you’re interested in a quote you receive in the mail, make sure you get an “apples to apples” comparison with your current policy to make sure all the coverage levels match. Better still, why not give Memorial Insurance a call – we have most of the main home insurance carriers in our agency, so we will do the shopping and comparing for you, and make 100% sure you are correctly insured!

Essential Coverage on your Auto Policy

Ever wondered what the jargon on your Auto Insurance policy means? Worried that you’re not adequately insured? Let Memorial Insurance help!

Part A: Liability Coverage: The state minimum limits in Texas are $30,000 per person, $60,000 per accident, and $25,000 for property damage (30/60/25). It is a really, really bad idea to limit yourself to minimum coverages. For one thing, these amounts do not go far at all in the case of a serious or multi-vehicle accident. For another, it is relatively inexpensive to upgrade to better coverage, usually just a few dollars per year. Aim for a minimum of 100/300/100. A little-known fact? Sometimes, high limits such as 500CSL may actually be cheaper! This is because you are rated differently as a responsible driver who sees the value in being properly protected.

Part B: Personal Injury Protection (PIP): This part of the policy provides funds for medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. If you are retired you might opt for Medical Payments coverage instead, which includes most of the benefits of PIP without the lost wages provision.

Part C: Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists: This is an optional protection that you do NOT want to leave off. It is estimated that as many as 1 in 4 drivers in Texas may be driving completely without insurance – and the ones who do have it often don’t have adequate coverage limits to pay for an expensive accident. Getting hit by one of these drivers has the potential to turn into your worst nightmare if you do not have UM/UIM coverage.

Part D: Coverage for Damage to your Auto: To save premium, you can leave off this coverage for older vehicles, as long as you are prepared to pay for the full costs of any damage yourself. For newer vehicles, and all loan/lease vehicles, this coverage is essential. There are two parts to it, which are often referred to as Comprehensive and Collision. Comprehensive covers fire, flood, theft and similar perils, whereas Collision protection will pay for damage to your vehicle caused by an accident. There is usually a deductible, ranging from $100-$2,000, which is the part of the claim you must pay out of pocket before the insurance kicks in to take care of the rest.

Additional Protections: Roadside Assistance is very inexpensive, usually less than $10 per year. Also consider rental car coverage, which is cheap and provides for up to a month of car rental fees while your vehicle is in the garage being repaired.

Finally, for ultimate peace of mind, add an umbrella for extra liability coverage – and don’t forget to add Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist protection to it!

Stay safe out there!

Independent Insurance Agent vs. Buying Directly Online

In the past, you didn’t have many options for buying home insurance, but those days are well and truly over. If you’re a homeowner, you’ll be getting bombarded every year with “too good to be true” offers in the mail, and every insurance company under the sun will be popping up on your Facebook sidebar as renewal date approaches.

Not only are there more options these days, but there are more ways to buy insurance, from a plethora of local agents, to companies offering direct quotes online in a matter of minutes.

It’s true, there are companies out there who will give you a real life quote for your home with just a few clicks of your mouse. So is this the way of the future? Could it really be the best course of action to just go online and buy the cheapest policy you can find, direct from the insurer?

It’s tempting, but before proceeding, ask yourself the following question: am I an insurance expert? If the answer is yes, go ahead and click away to see what is on offer.

However, if you don’t know your water backup endorsement from your water damage coverage, or your personal liability from your personal injury, then you need to get an independent insurance agent in your corner. Independent agents such as Memorial Insurance have access to many different markets and can find you a homeowners’ insurance product that suits your home, location, and budget.

Often, you will save money by relying on an agent’s expertise, compared to going directly to an online insurer and running the risk of buying coverage you don’t need, or not buying coverage you do.

When you’re in the market for a toaster, by all means go online and get it from the cheapest outlet you can find. After all, a toaster is the same wherever you buy it. The same can definitely NOT be said about insurance. This is why independent agents like Memorial Insurance are here to stay, fighting your corner and helping you navigate the insurance minefield to find the most suitable policy for your needs.

Photo credit: Franchise Opportunities .