Agents and brokers act as intermediaries between you (the insurance buyer) and your insurers. Each has a legal duty to help you obtain appropriate coverage at a reasonable price. Each must have a license to distribute the type of insurance he or she is selling. An agent or broker must also adhere to the regulations enforced by your state insurance department. 

Insurers review many factors when calculating your home insurance rate. Some of these variables are beyond your control, but you do have some influence over how much you pay for home insurance. By pricing other insurers every few years at least, choosing a higher deductible, making sure you get all the discounts that you can and not filing too many claims, you can do your part to get the lowest insurance rates possible for your home. We'll explain these topics in detail:
We catalogued optional coverage additions that can fill gaps in your policy or cater to specific disaster-prone regions. Earthquakes, for example, aren’t covered in a standard policy, but for those living near fault lines, an endorsement that will cover damage resulting from an earthquake is wise. It’s important that insurance companies offer a variety of useful endorsements to help create a policy tailored to your home’s true risks.
Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Not all Nationwide affiliated companies are mutual companies, and not all Nationwide members are insured by a mutual company. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. Nationwide Investment Services Corporation, member FINRA. Home Office: One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and other marks displayed on this page are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, unless otherwise disclosed. ©2019. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

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A more detailed method is to add up the monthly expenses your family will incur after your death. Remember to include the one-time expenses at death and the ongoing expenses, such as a mortgage or school bills. Take the ongoing expenses and divide by .07. That indicates you'll want a lump sum of money earning approximately 7% each year to pay those ongoing expenses. Add to that amount any money you'll need to cover one-time expenses, and you'll have a rough estimate of the amount of life insurance you need.
Insurance brokers represent the insurance buyer – you the consumer or business owner.  They are appointed or contracted with multiple insurance companies.  They have the flexibility to discuss many options and companies that meet your needs and budget. Insurance brokers have been around as long as insurance agents.  In many cases people will refer to insurance brokers as independent insurance agents.

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Insurance can be a complex concept that is not always easy to understand. While we know that we need insurance to protect our health, our house and car, and to ensure that our loved ones are protected, the finer details often become blurred. An insurance broker can help you navigate the process of finding, comparing, and acquiring insurance by breaking it down into terms and conditions the average Joe can understand. Insurance brokers pride themselves on providing their clients with the best value in insurance coverage. Having an experienced insurance broker represent you is also a wise way to safeguard yourself and your business.
As with most good insurance companies, you can get a quote from State Farm online. But State Farm’s process involves extra-detailed questions about the construction of your home, down to the percentage of carpet-covered floors and the number of corners in your home’s framing. We recommend arming yourself with floor plans, your insurance history, a home inventory, and specific details of your home’s construction so there won’t be any surprises when it's time to sign a policy contract. The upside is that all of these details provide you with an accurate quote and an exceptionally well-fitted policy.
Every homeowners insurance policy has a liability limit, which determines the amount of coverage that the insured has should an unfortunate incident occur. The standard limits are usually set at $100,000, but the policyholder can opt for a higher limit. In the event that a claim is made, the liability limit stipulates the percentage of the coverage amount that would go toward replacing or repairing damage to the property structures, personal belongings, and costs to live somewhere else while the property is worked on.
Nice write up. I personally have been able to save with an independent agent. A big concern of mine was finding an agent that worked with more reputable insurance carriers. There seems to be alot of agents who will use non-standard insurance carriers to provide cheaper coverage. I've heard some horror stories about customer service, sub-par adjustments, and claims services. I'd definitely do alot of research into the insurance companies the independent agent is appointed with.

Here are a few more important items to keep in mind when dealing with Agents and Health Insurance: * There is no cost to using a Broker or Independent agent. If an agent helps a client purchase a plan with a specific company, the insurance company will pay the agent a small stipend each month in which the health insurance plan is kept in place. * With Affordable Care Act - ACA in effect insurance companies are dropping the multiple network option for more specific smaller networks, or only one network. Agents, whom do their job correctly, will help to make sure that your doctor is in network with the insurance company that you choose. * If you work with a Captive Agent make sure to check other options with non-captive agents so that you have all the information you need to make an informed decision. * Using an Agent as your personal representative should go beyond just purchasing a plan. When you have an issue with if a doctor is on a plan or if your medications are covered you should be able to refer back to your agent for help in getting these issues answered or resolved. A good agent will go above and beyond just "selling" a plan to you. * Agents are aware of the Open Enrollment times in which you can change plans. A good agent will send an email out reminding their clients each year that now is the time to move plans or insurance companies since there is only a small period of time (Open Enrollment in the Fall) in which you may move to a different insurance company each year for a Jan 1st effective date. * Each year when rates increase Brokers and Independent Agents will be able to see all the companies rates and plans for the new year and help you decide if you should move to a new insurance company or plan for the new year *Agents are aware of what a Qualifying Event is and if you can change plans each year, how to do that and what is required. With all the knowledge agents possess...why not take advantage of free!

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Analysis: You’ll likely get better services from outside specialists, but that’s not the overriding factor here. The real problem is that tying services to insurance products makes it disruptive for you to leave your broker. The products and services should be unbundled so that there’s real competition for the big-ticket item: the insurance itself.


Dwelling Coverage – Helps protects your home and the structures directly attached to it. This can include coverage for electrical wiring, plumbing, heating and air conditioning as well as larger structures like staircases and walls. Tip: Choose the right amount of coverage – enough to cover the cost to rebuild your house in the case of a total loss.
Any death benefit of the policy will not be payable if the named insured commits suicide or if anyone covered by additional riders commits suicide, while sane or insane, within two years from the policy or rider effective date. All premiums paid will be refunded, less any indebtedness. The following information only applies to the Accelerated Death Payment, Waiver of Premium Benefit Rider, and Accidental-Death Benefit Rider:

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You may find that your out-of-pocket costs for whole life insurance seem daunting compared to term life insurance. This is because the dollars you pay into term life insurance premiums are only there to provide a death benefit to your beneficiaries if you die during a specified term, while money you invest in whole life insurance premiums builds cash value that you can use later in life or that will add to the death benefit payout. The percentage of your costs that go into your cash accrual account increases with passing years, as many of the administrative costs associated with setting up the policy and associated investments occurs early in the life of the policy.
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One of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them. To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels to find the cheapest rates. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.
Base commission is the “normal” commission earned on insurance policies. Base commission is expressed in terms of a percentage of premium and varies by type of coverage. For instance, an agent might earn say, a 10 percent commission on workers compensation policies and 15 percent on general liability policies. Suppose that you purchase a liability policy from the Elite Insurance Company through the Jones Agency, an independent agent. Jones earns a 15 percent commission on general liability policies.
J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Household Insurance Study and Consumer Reports’ customer experience survey measure communication, price satisfaction, claims process, and timely reimbursement. From J.D. Power, we required companies to have a score of 3/5 or better, and at least an 80/100 Reader Score from Consumer Reports. High scores reflect a company’s ability to handle claims and communication kindly, effectively, and without frustration.
5The monthly rate shown is for Preferred Elite based on a Male, age 37. Whole Life Advantage® is a whole life insurance policy issued by Allstate Life Insurance Company, 3075 Sanders Rd, Northbrook IL 60062. Whole Life Advantage is available in most states with series LU11040 or form ICC12A1. In New York, issued by Allstate Life Insurance Company of New York, Hauppauge, NY, and is available with contract NYLU796.

Any personal information gathered by SelectQuote is used only for the process of qualifying you for insurance products. Where permitted by law, your information may be used to request credit, medical and/or driving records from a third party. This information is used for underwriting the application in accordance with the disclosures and releases that you must review and sign. These authorizations are included with your application.


Deciding whether to purchase whole life or term life insurance is a personal decision that should be based on the financial needs of your beneficiaries as well as your financial goals. Life insurance can be a very flexible and powerful financial vehicle that can meet multiple financial objectives, from providing financial security to building financial assets and leaving a legacy.
Insurance broker became a regulated term under the Insurance Brokers (Registration) Act 1977[2] which was designed to thwart the bogus practices of firms holding themselves as brokers but in fact acting as representative of one or more favoured insurance companies. The term now has no legal definition following the repeal of the 1977 Act. The sale of general insurance was regulated by the Financial Services Authority from 14 January 2005 until 31 March 2013 and by the Financial Conduct Authority since 1 April 2013. Any person or firm authorized by the Authority can now call themselves an insurance broker.

We built a map displaying the historical frequency of floods and severe storms based on data from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Emergency Management Association (NEMA). If you live in one of the darker blue areas, look for the specific endorsements that apply to your region and which providers offer them. Texas, for example, has the highest count of natural disasters. If you live in a region often affected by floods and storms, you’ll want to look for a company that offers additional flood coverage or purchase it separately through the National Flood Insurance Program.
Insurers review many factors when calculating your home insurance rate. Some of these variables are beyond your control, but you do have some influence over how much you pay for home insurance. By pricing other insurers every few years at least, choosing a higher deductible, making sure you get all the discounts that you can and not filing too many claims, you can do your part to get the lowest insurance rates possible for your home. We'll explain these topics in detail:
If you are in the market for insurance for your business, home, vehicle, or your family, a broker can help you determine what your insurance needs are and what insurance is right for you. Because a broker works for you — not for an insurance company — you can be assured that your insurance broker has your best interests in mind when shopping for insurance policies. Contact an insurance broker today to learn more about how he or she can help you buy the best possible insurance for your needs.
Any person acting as an insurance agent or broker must be licensed to do so by the state or jurisdiction that the person is operating in. Whereas states previously would issue separate licenses for agents and brokers, most states now issue a single producer license regardless if the person is acting on behalf of the insured or insurer. The term insurance producers is used to reference both insurance agents and brokers.
Homeowners' insurance is a specific type of property insurance. Homeowners' insurance covers damage or loss by theft and against perils which can include fire, and storm damage. It also may insure the owner for accidental injury or death for which the owner may be legally responsible.  Mortgage lenders usually require homeowners' insurance as part of the mortgage terms.
An insurance carrier, also called an insurance provider or an insurance company, is the financial resource behind the coverage provided in an insurance policy.  It is the issuer of the policy and the one who charges the premium and pays for losses and claims covered under the policy. In return for charging a certain premium, the insurance company promises to pay the insured for certain financial losses due to various covered claims’ scenarios.  Some insurance carriers also provide loss control services to help nonprofits avoid claims.  Nevertheless, the distinct difference between a broker and an insurance carrier is that the insurance company bears the financial risk while the broker provides advice.
It's difficult to apply a rule of thumb because the amount of life insurance you need depends on factors such as your other sources of income, how many dependents you have, your debts, and your lifestyle. However, a general guideline you may find useful is to obtain a policy that would be worth between five and 10 times your annual salary in the event of your death. Beyond that guideline, you may want to consider consulting a financial planning professional to determine how much coverage to obtain.
Most states allow insurers to factor in your credit score when deciding what you’ll pay. The logic? Customers with high credit scores are less likely to make claims, and the insurer will return some of those expected savings in the form of lower rates. If you need some help getting on top of your score, and potentially improving it, check out our favorite credit monitoring services.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review, and coordinate their regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally. NAIC members, together with the central resources of the NAIC, form the national system of state-based insurance regulation in the U.S. For more information, visit www.naic.org.
Of all the variables that affect your premium, the most important will be replacement cost value. This is the amount of money needed to completely rebuild or replace your home in the aftermath of catastrophe. That number isn’t going to be the same as what you paid for your home (it should account for appreciation), nor the market value (which accounts for the plot of land and location). It’s best to hire an independent appraiser to get this number right and then confirm it with an appraiser from your insurance company. Now, the higher the replacement cost, the higher your premium, but don’t be tempted to underestimate it even if you’re eager to trim policy costs. This value is critical — protection against loss is the whole point of carrying insurance.
In the United States, insurance brokers are regulated by the individual U.S. states. Most states require anyone who sells, solicits, or negotiates insurance in that state to obtain an insurance broker license, with certain limited exceptions. This includes a business entity, the business entity's officers or directors (the "sublicensees" through whom the business entity operates), and individual employees. In order to obtain a broker's license, a person typically must take pre-licensing courses and pass an examination. An insurance broker also must submit an application (with an application fee) to the state insurance regulator in the state in which the applicant wishes to do business, who will determine whether the insurance broker has met all the state requirements and will typically do a background check to determine whether the applicant is considered trustworthy and competent. A criminal conviction, for example, may result in a state determining that the applicant is untrustworthy or incompetent. Some states also require applicants to submit fingerprints.

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Liability limits generally start at about $100,000, however, it’s a good idea to discuss whether you should purchase a higher level of protection with your insurance professional. If you have significant assets and want more coverage than is available under your homeowners policy, consider purchasing an umbrella or excess liability policy, which provides broader coverage and higher liability limits.
Brokers are not appointed by insurers. They solicit insurance quotes and/or policies from insurers by submitting completed applications on behalf of buyers. Brokers don't have the authority to bind coverage. To initiate a policy, a broker must obtain a binder from the insurer. A binder is a legal document that serves as a temporary insurance policy. It usually applies for a short period, such as 30 or 60 days. A binder is not valid unless it has been signed by a representative of the insurer. A binder is replaced by a policy.

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The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) is the U.S. standard-setting and regulatory support organization created and governed by the chief insurance regulators from the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through the NAIC, state insurance regulators establish standards and best practices, conduct peer review, and coordinate their regulatory oversight. NAIC staff supports these efforts and represents the collective views of state regulators domestically and internationally. NAIC members, together with the central resources of the NAIC, form the national system of state-based insurance regulation in the U.S. For more information, visit www.naic.org.
My husband and I have been using the same Independent Insurance Agent for over 15 years and I can't imagine getting insurance from anyone else! I like the personalized service we get. As bad as customer service is everywhere else, it's nice to know that I can go to my local office and get the help I need. I'm rarely put on hold when I call and I'm always helped by a knowledgeable staff member, not someone reading from a script. I've compared our insurance rates with many other companies, and our agent makes sure we get the best insurance for the best price. We've dealt with brokers and captive agents too, but our best experiences have been with Mr. Johnson. 

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Permanent life insurance policies do not expire. They are intended to protect your loved ones permanently, as long as you pay your premiums. Some permanent life insurance policies accumulate cash value. That means, the value of the policy will grow each year, tax-deferred, until it matches the face value of the policy. The cash can generally be accessed via loans or withdrawals, and can be used for a variety of purposes. This type of plan is typically portable so coverage can continue if employment terminates. 

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Living near a full-time fire station with a nearby hydrant plays a role in your home insurance rates. The reason an insurer wants a home near a fire department and hydrant is that there is less chance of your home burning down if you live near a fire station. Having a hydrant nearby also means that firefighters can start battling a house fire faster than if the hydrant is down the street -- or even miles away.

As with most good insurance companies, you can get a quote from State Farm online. But State Farm’s process involves extra-detailed questions about the construction of your home, down to the percentage of carpet-covered floors and the number of corners in your home’s framing. We recommend arming yourself with floor plans, your insurance history, a home inventory, and specific details of your home’s construction so there won’t be any surprises when it's time to sign a policy contract. The upside is that all of these details provide you with an accurate quote and an exceptionally well-fitted policy.
The above is meant as general information and as general policy descriptions to help you understand the different types of coverages. These descriptions do not refer to any specific contract of insurance and they do not modify any definitions, exclusions or any other provision expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. We encourage you to speak to your insurance representative and to read your policy contract to fully understand your coverages.
While many factors go into calculating your rate, where you live is chief among them. Homeowners in states that are prone to hurricanes, hail storms, tornados and earthquakes tend to pay the most for home insurance. Insurance.com’s analysis of rates from top insurers for nearly every ZIP code in the country bears this out. Florida and Louisiana are the most expensive states for home insurance among six common coverage levels analyzed by Insurance.com. The least expensive states for home insurance are Hawaii and Vermont
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We started with a list of 99 insurers from the Insurance Information Institute and state insurance department websites. To guarantee that our picks for best insurance company would be applicable to all, we looked for providers with coverage in at least 40 states and no special requirements for membership (with the exception of USAA, which we'll cover below).
While local or special eligibility insurers can potentially write you a great homeowners policy at a competitive rate, large national carriers tend to have more discounts and bundling opportunities. They’re also better equipped to handle claims in the wake of a disaster. Their rolling claims centers, outfitted with generators, satellite connections, and agent workstations, can make all the difference in areas where power has been knocked out.
When building your insurance policy, companies will offer discounts on your premium if you take measures that make you a lower-risk investment. For example, many companies give you a break for taking certain safety measures, like installing deadbolts or a security system. Most will knock their prices even lower if you don’t have a long claims history or if you sign up for auto-pay. We took into account the number and type of discounts offered to help maximize your chance at an affordable policy.
By raising the amount you’ll pay out of pocket before your insurance kicks in, you’ll lower your premiums (monthly/yearly payments). You can save as much as 25% by raising your deductible to $1,000. This can be a risky choice, though, and should be considered carefully — it’s important that you don’t raise your deductible so high that you can’t afford to pay it when something goes wrong. If you live in a disaster-prone area or have trouble saving, keeping a low deductible and investing in protection on a monthly basis is the safer choice.
Policy benefits are reduced by any outstanding loan or loan interest and/or withdrawals. Dividends, if any, are affected by policy loans and loan interest. Withdrawals above the cost basis may result in taxable ordinary income. If the policy lapses, or is surrendered, any outstanding loans considered gain in the policy may be subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy is a Modified Endowment Contract (MEC), loans are treated like withdrawals, but as gain first, subject to ordinary income taxes. If the policy owner is under 59 ½, any taxable withdrawal may also be subject to a 10% federal tax penalty.
Analysis: In what other circumstance do customers sign contracts without seeing them? The full policy language is not presented as part of the proposal. And don’t count on the broker to know, or be able to negotiate, the terms. A broker proposal typically contains language like “Your review of these documents and any review you may seek from legal counsel or insurance consultants is expected and essential.”

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