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.
Owning a home is an accomplishment and an asset, one that deserves safeguarding. The best homeowners insurance providers offer financial strength, coverage options, and great customer service. It also comes at a great price for your unique circumstances. Use our quote tool to compare rates from several providers and find which offers you the best coverage for the best price.

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You can add optional coverage to your homeowners insurance policy, but you can also purchase separate insurance policies that offer more protection. Flood protection is not included in most home insurance policies, so to help protect your home against floods, you'll likely need to purchase flood insurance. You can also get liability protection beyond your current home and auto policy limits with personal umbrella insurance.
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).
This life insurance information is provided for general consumer educational purposes and is not intended to provide legal, tax or investment advice. Life Insurance offered through Allstate Life Insurance Company, Northbrook, IL; Allstate Assurance Company, Northbrook, IL; Lincoln Benefit Life Company, Lincoln, NE and American Heritage Life Insurance Company, Jacksonville, FL. In New York, life insurance offered through Allstate Life Insurance Company of New York, Hauppauge, NY. All guarantees are based on the claims-paying ability of the issuing insurance company.

MetLife Auto & Home is a brand of Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company and its affiliates: Economy Fire & Casualty Company, Economy Premier Assurance Company, Economy Preferred Insurance Company, Metropolitan Casualty Insurance Company, Metropolitan Direct Property and Casualty Insurance Company (CA Certificate of Authority: 6730; Warwick, RI), Metropolitan General Insurance Company, Metropolitan Group Property and Casualty Insurance Company (CA COA: 6393; Warwick, RI), and Metropolitan Lloyds Insurance Company of Texas, all with administrative home offices in Warwick, RI. Coverage, rates, discounts, and policy features vary by state and product, and are available in most states to those who qualify. Policies have exclusions, limitations, and terms under which the policy may be continued in force or discontinued. For costs and complete details of coverage, contact your local MetLife Auto & Home representative or the company.  

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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.
Life insurance policies often have hidden costs, such as fees and large commissions, that you may not find out about until after you purchase the policy. There are so many different kinds of life insurance, and so many companies that offer these policies, that you should use a fee-only insurance adviser who, for a fixed fee, will research the various policies available to you and recommend the one that best suits your needs. To ensure objectivity, your adviser should not be affiliated with any particular insurance company and should not receive a commission from any policy.
7Variable universal life products are long-term investments designed to provide life insurance protection and flexibility in connection with premium payments and death benefits. You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the investment alternatives before purchasing a policy. These policies have limitations and are sold by prospectus only. The prospectus contains details on the investment alternatives, policy features, the underlying portfolios, fees, charges, expenses, and other pertinent information. To obtain a prospectus or a copy of the underlying portfolio prospectuses, please contact Allstate Assurance Company. Please read the prospectuses carefully before purchasing a contract.
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Allstate has the second-largest number of additional endorsement options of all our contenders. Those additional endorsements are fairly low-risk: insurance for expensive sports equipment, musical instruments, or landscaping. Notably absent is additional coverage options for earthquakes and theft of other property (vehicles, trailer, watercraft), but the endorsements it does offer can be valuable if you have expensive hobbies or are putting a lot of money into renovating your home’s curb appeal.
Sure. The liability portion of your homeowners insurance kicks in if someone is accidentally injured on or around your property. Say they slip on an icy sidewalk or your dog bites them. So long as there are no exclusions (which is possible, particularly with certain dog breeds), liability insurance will pay for that person's medical expenses and any court costs you incur if they sue. Liability insurance also covers property damage caused unintentionally by you or your family members, like if your kid breaks a neighbor's window while playing catch in your yard.
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.
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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.
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To all of those saying "I'd rather do it on my own," you're definitely taking a huge chance, and more than likely are throwing a ton of money away. There are certain fields where you can do things on your own. However, insurance isn't one of those fields that would be advisable to take that course of action. The laws/rules are sky high, and many of these laws and rules change every single year. Trust me, even if you don't think you're throwing money away, you more than likely are. Whether you choose a broker or captive agent captive agent, I would recommend using a professional who has in depth knowledge. I mean, it's free, anyway. Insurance is similar to the legal/lawyer field. If I had a case, I certainly wouldn't want to represent myself.
Because brokers work with a variety of insurance companies, they tend to have a broader understanding of companies’ offerings and key benefits. They are commission-based, which is a double-edged sword: they may be more motivated to earn your business year after year by getting you the best deal possible; or they may try to sell you a policy with unnecessary bells and whistles since that would pay them a higher commission. Regarding the double-edged sword: the best way to nail down the best deal possible is the annual review and re-shopping of coverage. The best way to avoid unnecessary “bells and whistles” is to remember that your needs guide what you purchase. If you don’t need “bells and whistles”, don’t purchase them. Approaching insurance this way is always the best way forward. Consider this: having options placed in front of you and explained in detail allows you the opportunity to hear about the newest “bells and whistles,” some of which may be just what you need or were looking for, but simply never asked about. Policies change, and new options are added by carriers all the time.
Liberty Mutual has a decent selection of endorsements, from scheduled personal property to coverage for your home business, but one add-on stood out to us in particular. Liberty Mutual is one of the few providers that offers inflation protection for homeowners. With this add-on, the company will automatically adjust your coverage limits each year to keep up with inflation. That means if your house ever needs repairs, you won’t have to worry about the higher cost of building materials and labor exceeding your previously sufficient coverage. 

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A broker will help his or her clients identify their individual, family, business or organization liability risks. With this information, a client can make an informed decision about what type of insurance is necessary and how much insurance protection to purchase. A broker can guide clients on these decisions, and provide a range of quotes based on the client’s needs. This includes explaining the terms and conditions and benefits and exclusions for a number of competing insurance policies. Armed with this information, clients can find the most appropriate insurance purchase for their liability needs and budget. Some brokers may even be able to negotiate lower rates for their clients based on their history as an insured and the amount of insurance that they are purchasing. For example, a broker working with a company to obtain workers’ compensation insurance can first assess the type and level of coverage needed (which may be determined in part by state law). The broker can then provide a range of options from a number of insurers, and help the business pick the policy that provides the most coverage at the best price. Over time, the broker can gather and present information to the insurer to demonstrate that the company should be eligible for a lower rate, perhaps because the business’ workplace safety initiatives have lowered the number of workers’ compensation claims made against the policy. In this manner, a broker can help a client reduce its premium cost.

There are also a few different ways your claim will be settled depending on your policy. Actual Cash Value will reimburse you for the replacement cost minus any depreciation. Because the cost can vary so much over time when it comes to property, this kind of policy could mean the limit on your coverage ends up coming in significantly below the cost to repair or even rebuild your home.

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Progressive’s service varies heavily by state. As the company explains, “Insurance through the Progressive Home Advantage program is underwritten by select companies that are not affiliates of Progressive and are solely responsible for claims, including Homesite Group Incorporated, IDS Property Casualty Co., and ASI Lloyds, and their affiliates.” Basically, Progressive isn’t selling its own homeowners insurance, but has partnered with another company (the one that will pay your claim) in order to offer that insurance to its customers. If you’re already a Progressive customer, no need to stray. If you’re considering opening a policy with Progressive, though, be aware that your options for discounts and coverage will vary by state.
Progressive offers a unique Inflation Guard endorsement that will dynamically adjust coverage amounts to keep up with inflation, so the money you’ll need for repairs will be sufficient even as the market’s construction costs rise. Its coverage extends to cover things like pools, sheds, and fences at no additional cost. Progressive also offers a watercraft endorsement that allows you to extend your personal liability and medical coverage to small sailboats and motor boats.
Simply put, there are six main categories that homeowners insurance covers: your dwelling, other structures, personal property, loss of use, liability, and medical payments. Within each category are particular coverages and exclusions. For example, water damage is covered under “dwelling” as a result of burst pipes or water heater but not as a result of heavy rainfall or flooding (though coverage for the latter can be added separately). And while water damage from the burst pipe is covered, your policy won’t cover the cost of replacing those pipes.
Once licensed, an insurance broker generally must take continuing education courses when their licenses reach a renewal date. For example, the state of California requires license renewals every 2 years, which is accomplished by completing continuing education courses. Most states have reciprocity agreements whereby brokers from one state can become easily licensed in another state. As a result of the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, most states have adopted uniform licensing laws, with 47 states being deemed reciprocal by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. A state may revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew an insurance broker's license if at any time the state determines (typically after notice and a hearing) that the broker has engaged in any activity that makes him untrustworthy or incompetent.
After insurance has been selected and purchased, most insurance brokers will continue to provide service to their clients. This includes advising clients on technical issues that may be helpful in the event that a client has to file a claim, helping clients decide if they should change their insurance policies or coverage, and even making sure that clients comply with their policy’s requirements.
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.
Our Entertainment Specialty team focuses on protecting touring entertainers, music tours, outdoor festivals, live events, promoters and professionally managed bands. We understand that our clients, several of whom are Grammy winners and Billboard Chart Toppers, perform all over the world and need an insurance partner who is flexible, understands the risks, and offers tailored insurance solutions. We make sure you have the right protection so you can focus on what you do best.
The ability to pay claims is the backbone of any insurance, so the best way to compare insurance companies is to look to their financial solvency. To discover the top-rated insurance companies, we gathered financial strength ratings (FSR) from all three major rating agencies, but paid particular attention to ratings from A.M. Best, the only agency that focuses solely on insurance. We required at least an "A" rating from A.M. Best, as well as either a strong ("A") rating from S&P Global or a high quality ("Aa") from Moody’s.

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In Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia, Policies: ICC1368100, ICC1368200, ICC1368300, ICC1368400 and Riders: ICC1368050, ICC1368051, ICC1368052, ICC1368053, ICC1368054, ICC1368055. This is a brief product overview only. Coverage may not be available in all states, including New York. Benefits/premium rates may vary based on plan selected. Optional riders are available at an additional cost. The policy has limitations and exclusions that may affect benefits payable. Refer to the policy for complete details, limitations, and exclusions. For costs and complete details of the coverage, please contact your local Aflac agent.
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. 
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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.
When you start your search, you can pick an independent agent or a captive (or direct) agent. An independent agent may sell policies from many different companies. A captive agent sells insurance for only one company. Independent and captive agents represent insurance companies and receive a commission from the insurance company for the sale of its policies.
The ability to pay claims is the backbone of any insurance, so the best way to compare insurance companies is to look to their financial solvency. To discover the top-rated insurance companies, we gathered financial strength ratings (FSR) from all three major rating agencies, but paid particular attention to ratings from A.M. Best, the only agency that focuses solely on insurance. We required at least an "A" rating from A.M. Best, as well as either a strong ("A") rating from S&P Global or a high quality ("Aa") from Moody’s.
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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Agents and brokers both earn the bulk of their income through commissions earned on the sales they make. An agent working for one company can enjoy the stability that comes from having one compensation plan. A broker who works with a number of insurance companies can experience income variances, depending on which company's products she sells. However, brokers have the flexibility to write business through the companies that offer the highest commission rates, assuming they provide the products that meet their clients' needs.
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.
1 In Texas, the Auto Program is underwritten by Southern County Mutual Insurance Company through Hartford Fire General Agency. Hartford Fire Insurance Company and its affiliates are not financially responsible for insurance products underwritten and issued by Southern County Mutual Insurance Company. The Home Program is underwritten by Trumbull Insurance Company.
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The information on this site is general in nature. Any description of coverage is necessarily simplified. Whether a particular loss is covered depends on the specific facts and the provisions, exclusions and limits of the actual policy. Nothing on this site alters the terms or conditions of any of our policies. You should read the policy for a complete description of coverage. Coverage options, limits, discounts, deductibles and other features are subject to individuals meeting our underwriting criteria and state availability. Not all features available in all states. Discounts may not apply to all coverages and/or vehicles. 
However, not all homeowners insurance policies are the same. The Hartford is the only home insurance company endorsed by AARP. With our flexible options, savings and expert service, you’ll know that your home is getting the best protection possible. Get a homeowners insurance quote today and start saving your money and securing your home with The Hartford.

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Well, actually, that was a fairly slanted article from someone who is advocating in his best interest from his point of view. Most Brokers are highly ethical and Brokers (not agents) DO have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. Most CFO’s also do not allow their Brokers to “last minute” them nor have an uncontrolled process. One of the biggest problems is not the Broker or Agent, but divisional reluctance to co-ordinate safety and loss prevention efforts WITH the CFO so that the CFO has a basis to negotiate with first of all, and for the organization to take a portion of it’s risk and self-insure where financially appropriate. For example, the adoption of telematics in fleets has moved very slowly and their is no good reason for proactive management to have allowed that to happen. That takes proactive risk management and coordination which is why many CFO’s have a risk manager position in their department.
If you’re in bargain-hunting mode, Liberty Mutual may be a good place to look for homeowners insurance. It offers a long list of discounts — matching leading companies like State Farm, Allstate, and Nationwide in number — that includes some hard-to-find options we appreciated. For instance, Liberty Mutual is one of only two companies on this list, along with the Hartford, that will cut you a deal if you insure your house for 100% of its value. Other unique discounts include savings for new homes, homes with new roofs, first-time insurance buyers, and customers that set up autopay or pay online.
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7Variable universal life products are long-term investments designed to provide life insurance protection and flexibility in connection with premium payments and death benefits. You should carefully consider the investment objectives, risks, charges, and expenses of the investment alternatives before purchasing a policy. These policies have limitations and are sold by prospectus only. The prospectus contains details on the investment alternatives, policy features, the underlying portfolios, fees, charges, expenses, and other pertinent information. To obtain a prospectus or a copy of the underlying portfolio prospectuses, please contact Allstate Assurance Company. Please read the prospectuses carefully before purchasing a contract.
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Your best possible price equals a competitive initial quote, plus lots of opportunities to save. The most significant discounts, like those for owning a fire extinguisher or being claim-free, are offered by most providers. However, there are a few exceptional discounts that make certain providers a better fit for certain homeowners. For example: Allstate’s “new purchase” discount gives a small break to owners who are moving into their home for the first time. We tallied and compared the discounts offered by each provider to help us make personalized recommendations for different homeowners. 

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