Virtually every state mandates that insurance agents and brokers meet licensing requirements, which normally entails the successful completion of a written examination. Prelicensing educational requirements may also apply, which can vary depending on the state and license type. Separate licenses are necessary for each line of insurance, including Life and Health and Property and Casualty. In addition, agents and brokers may have to meet ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses.
Credit score, location, condition of plumbing and electrical, vulnerability to wind damage/earthquakes/floods, claim history, replacement cost, dog breed, wood-burning stove, home-based business, remodeling, home liability limits, insurance score, marital status, age and construction of home, trampoline or swimming pool or hot tub, roof condition, proximity to fire station, square footage, number of inhabitants, area claim history, security systems and safety features, etc.

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Coverage varies greatly among regions, homes, and asset portfolios. If you and your neighbor called all the same providers asking for quotes, there’s a good chance the lowest option for you would come from a different provider than the lowest option for them. There’s no universally cheaper carrier. For some context, premiums can range in price anywhere from $500 to $2,000.
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.
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Allstate also offers the most discounts of all the companies on our list — 11 total. These include standard discounts like hosting smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, or deadbolt locks, as well as unique offers, like one for signing up before your current policy expires. First-time customer with Allstate? You’ll get another price slash for your first two years with the company.
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.
Looking to buy life insurance for the first time? If so, you're probably asking yourself questions, such as "How much do I need?," "What kind of policy is best?," and "Which company should I buy from?" There's no question that buying life insurance for the first time, like any other new experience, can be more than a bit daunting. Below are six important tips that we hope will make the process smoother by eliminating frustrating false starts and unnecessary bumps in the road.
ProtectorPLUS Zero Deductible Benefit – Waives homeowners insurance deductible (up to $5,000) if your home is severely damaged by a qualifying loss of $27,500 or more. For example, if your home is struck by lightning and there is massive electrical and structural damage that exceeds $27,500. Without ProtectorPLUS Zero Deductible Benefit, you would only receive payment for the loss that exceeds your deductible.3
Securities and investment advisory services offered solely through Ameritas Investment Corp. (AIC). Member FINRA/SIPC. AIC and The Business Benefits Group / IFG are not affiliated. Additional products and services may be available through The Business Benefits Group / IFG that are not offered through AIC. Securities products are limited to residents of Virginia. This is not an offer of securities in any jurisdiction, nor is it specifically directed to a resident of any jurisdiction. As with any security, request a prospectus from your Registered Representative. Read it carefully before you invest or send money. A Representative from The Business Benefits Group / IFG will contact you to provide requested information. Representatives of AIC do not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor or attorney regarding your situation.

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Along with State Farm, Liberty Mutual has one of the lowest Consumer Reports reader scores on this list. Those numbers revolve around the company’s claims system: how quickly agents respond, how simple the process is, how timely and fair payments are. And while Liberty Mutual’s score isn’t poor — dubbed “very good” across the board — it doesn’t quite compare to the “excellent” ratings brought home by our other picks. This is worth considering if you live in a disaster-prone area like the East Coast, where the likelihood that you’ll have to file a claim is high and it’s important to choose a provider that makes them as painless as possible.
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 it comes to online resources and navigation, Amica’s tech feels pretty dated. Its bare-bones site only details the basics of its policies and discounts. You won’t find anything like Allstate’s abundant and interactive resources, or guidance on how to build your policy. Thankfully, Amica scores highly in customer service, so a quick phone call can get you the information you need.

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This is so true, and even more so for personal insurance such as auto, home, and life. Everyone should be aware that unlike your financial advisor (who is heavily regulated) your insurance broker has NO fiduciary responsibility to act in your best interest. What I find amazing about this contradiction is that a large percentage of families in this county likely send more annually on insurance products than put into savings and retirement accounts.
3 The above example is based on a scenario for 20‐year term life insurance (domicile state) that includes the following benefit conditions: $50,000 death benefit, $50,000 accidental death benefit, and $12,500 seatbelt benefit. Benefits may vary by state, benefit option, and level of coverage selected. Review your state‐specific brochure below for a “How It Works” scenario customized for your state.
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.
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.
To sell insurance products on behalf of a particular insurer, an agency must have an appointment with that insurer. An appointment is a contractual agreement that outlines the specific products the agency may sell. It also specifies the commissions the insurer will pay for each product. The contract usually describes the agency's binding authority, meaning its authority to initiate a policy on the insurer’s behalf. The agent may have permission to bind some types of coverage but not others.

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Keep in mind, not all insurance companies use agents. You can do business directly with many companies by purchasing coverage online. These policies may be less expensive since the company doesn't have to pay the agent's commission. Regardless of how you buy the policy, make sure the company is licensed in your state, is financially stable and check to see if they have complaints.
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We looked to J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Household Insurance Study, which includes scores based on how well “customers rate the claims experience with their current homeowners insurance provider,” and required three or more Power Circles. Consumer Reports also published data from nearly 10,000 survey respondents who filed claims from January 2010 to June of 2016, in which they rated carriers on criteria including agent courtesy and problem-free claims experiences. We looked for a grade of 80 or above.

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.
Unlike insurance agents, brokers typically have access to many different policies offered by various companies — not just a few policies offered by a single company. They may also have access to policies that are not available to most consumers. Having a wide selection of policies to choose from can ensure that clients have the best possible coverage and the best rates. It may also make the process more complicated, as more choices can lead to confusion over which policies will provide the best coverage. A broker can assist clients in choosing the right policies for their home, business, family or automobile to make sure that they are adequately protected. This includes more than simply looking at the premium rates or policy limits; it involves a thorough analysis of what exactly each policy covers and excludes to ensure that it is the right policy for the client.

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Term life is a type of life insurance policy where premiums remain level for a specified period of time —generally for 10, 20 or 30 years. After the end of the level premium period, premiums will generally increase. Coverage continues as long as the premiums are paid. Perhaps this is an option you may want to consider when you’re on a more limited budget and will have significant expenses over a shorter period of time.

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In the event of a disaster, it’s vital that you obtain the right amount of coverage — that’s what’s going to pay for your repairs and/or a full rebuild. Your coverage limits for personal belongings and other structures are related to the amount of coverage on your dwelling, so you’ll have better protection for all your property if you lift your dwelling limit. “If you have a mortgage, your lender may only require you to purchase a policy with enough coverage to protect their interest — particularly if you have a low balance,” says Christina Moore, a compliance and risk management VP at SWBC. “But in the event of a substantial or total loss, the cost of rebuilding your property could be much more, leaving you with potentially large out-of-pocket expenses.”

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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.
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Allstate stands out for its comprehensive educational tools — it’s a great resource for new homeowners, or anyone who doesn’t like to buy anything without full knowledge of the space. With a robust guide filled with general homeowners insurance information, Allstate lets you arm yourself with everything you need to know. You can even get a personalized walkthrough of insurance-relevant stats for your specific address using Allstate’s GoodHome tool, which displays home details like market value, energy costs, and average repair costs of the most common hazards in the area (like fire or water damage). It also suggests tips for easing costs and choosing coverage.

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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.
In short, yes. Think carefully before filing a claim on your homeowners insurance, as it will directly affect the amount you’ll pay going forward. If you have two claims within three years, or three claims within five years, that increase can be as high as 20% as you’re shifted into a “high risk” category. It could be another five years before those claims drop off your record and the premium prices decrease.
Let’s say your home burns down and it’s now uninhabitable. While your home is being rebuilt, you’ll need to live elsewhere for a short while. Additional living expenses (ALE) covers any living away from home costs and eases the stress of being temporarily uprooted. These expenses may include lodging, meals at restaurants, storage fees, and other costs incurred while your home is being rebuilt.
9 Your homeowners policy can help to protect a family member who lives in an assisted care facility. With our optional Assisted Living Care, you can provide Personal Property and Personal Liability coverage for a relative in a nursing home or similar facility. Coverage amounts help to pay for lost personal property, such as hearing aids, eyeglasses, false teeth, wheelchairs and more. This option also provides coverage for Additional Living Expenses (in certain situations).

Our Employee Benefits team is acutely aware of the need to provide your employees with the appropriate benefits, while simultaneously ensuring the costs remain affordable to both you and your employees. Our experts take a proactive and consultative approach to doing business, and our goal is to not only help you retain your competitive edge, but to make benefit plan administration seamless for you. We go above and beyond for each client, acting as an advocate in price negotiation and dispute resolution in claims and billing scenarios.
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.
Umbrella policies offer extra liability coverage on top of what's already covered by your standard homeowners insurance or car insurance policy. Umbrella coverage starts at $1 million. Our agents generally recommend an umbrella policy to people who have more than $500,000 in assets since that's typically where your standard homeowners policy will cap coverage. But you should also consider umbrella coverage if you're at risk of multiple lawsuits, like if you have a few teen drivers in the house or you own multiple properties, especially rentals. You can learn more about umbrella insurance here.

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7 This coverage pays for the repair or replacement of appliances, electronics and other home systems after a mechanical or electrical breakdown. Equipment Protection Advantage also provides coverage if you want to make “green” upgrades. It pays up to 125 percent of your cost to replace any covered equipment with items that are similar, but more energy efficient or environmentally friendly.

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