BY JOE THOMPSON | Personal Lines Advisor
No matter an individual’s stage in life, whether they are a retiree, raising a family, or living on their own, insurance coverage provides a protective barrier between their assets and any unfortunate accidents that they may face throughout their life. However, when conversing with the average insurance consumer on their own coverage, there are a number of things that they may not know or understand.
As a Personal Lines Advisor, I work with individuals, not businesses who have expertise dealing with the ins-and-outs of the insurance industry. Often, individuals may not actually know the type of policy that may most effectively cover their needs, as well as what amount of coverage may be the most appropriate for them. This is where the importance of education is made apparent. After over seven years of personal lines insurance experience, and several recognitions and awards spanning my career thus far, providing personal attention and education to clients has led to regular success. Providing education on which type of policy and amount of coverage is the best option can often save clients money on their coverage, but we can also provide a dependable barrier to financial disaster in the case of an unfortunate accident.
Occasionally, I have clients that have overpaid on their insurance coverage simply due to not understanding the proper amount that they should have been paying in the first place. A client who comes to mind is a woman I will refer to as Mrs. Jones, a retired woman on a fixed single income. Mrs. Jones owned a home and car, and was paying high premiums for her coverage. When beginning work on her case I underwent an evaluation process, and came to a figure that reasonably estimated the value of her insured assets. I discovered that her insurance company had undervalued her home and assets, and as a result she had been overpaying for inadequate coverage. I explained my process and conclusions to her, and went through the process of retooling her home valuation and increasing her auto limits. After adjusting to proper levels of valuation and coverage, she was able to access better coverage, and also save $1,300 per year in premiums. With her limited income, these savings could help her improve her overall quality of life, and she could rest assured that she was getting the most out of her coverage.
Sometimes, I will work with clients like the Davidsons, where the issue may not be in unwittingly paying too much, but simply not understanding the value of paying more for coverage. Mr. Davidson, a school principal, and Mrs. Davidson, a doctor, had a significant combined household income, but only had state minimum auto collision coverage. At $25,000 per person, up to $50,000 for two people, in the event of medical coverage for a collision, and a $10,000 limit for vehicle and property damage, the Davidsons’ current coverage would likely leave them with significant debts in the event of an auto accident. The Davidsons also had not adequately insured items such as the golf cart that they had on their property; items that carried a chance of injuring a driver or passenger would not be covered under their current insurance. After an assessment of the Davidsons’ coverage, I explained to them that while it might be less expensive up front, state minimum insurance coverage, and lower policies in general, were not a viable strategy in the case of unfortunate circumstances. Medical costs alone were likely to exceed their current coverage in the case of an accident, and they were without an umbrella policy to provide a financial barrier in the case of any potential lawsuit if they were liable for an accident. From being educated on the risks their family were facing with their lower levels of coverage, and by raising their coverage from Indiana state minimum across the board to over $250,000 with a $1 million umbrella plan, the Davidsons were able to achieve peace of mind with a level of coverage that would leave them secure.
For customers with insurance needs who may not know the best way to go about selecting a carrier or policy, education on their options is key. In this case, an apartment community required each resident to have renter’s insurance prior to move-in, but ran into difficulties and inefficiencies using a single large carrier. Residents often have different levels of need for renter’s insurance based on variables like the value of their possessions and their income, but they may not know why they should even need renters’ insurance. I have been able to interact with residents face-to-face, and explain that in the event of a fire, flood, theft or any other number of catastrophes, they would not receive compensation for their damaged possessions without the proper coverage. After explaining the benefits and security afforded by renters’ insurance, I began to work with residents to find the right carrier for their needs. Different carriers have different ideal clients, and by going through one carrier, residents were often not accessing their ideal insurance situation. After looking at each resident’s situation, I was able to see the factors that would make them naturally more suited for a specific carrier, and through one-on-one collaboration and education, I was able to select the right policy for them from Conner’s wide range of carriers and meet their needs.
With the often-complicated nature of personal lines insurance, especially to those without formal education on their policies, clients often need a hand in selecting a carrier or policy, and the reassurance that their insurance will work for their needs and budget. By working with Conner, these clients will have access to over 10 carriers, and I am dedicated to finding the perfect fit for their needs. When working with clients I provide the advice and education that I would expect to receive if I was exploring similar options. Through working with clients to ensure that they are educated on the types of policies and how much coverage they can afford, they can make the changes to improve their financial safety and security without wasting money along the way. Whether properly evaluating home and property values, raising coverage to an appropriate level, as well as adding certain types of coverage and umbrella protection, or learning the situations in which coverage is prudent, personal lines affords a unique opportunity for advisors. We are able to not only find solutions to meet consumer needs, but also to educate on a one-on-one level and provide true peace of mind.