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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Independent agencies including A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s provide ratings on the financial strength of insurance companies. These agencies asses the ability of an insurance company to remain solvent in the event of major crisis or difficult economic times. While companies of such status seem invulnerable to failure, not even they have limitless funds. One notable example: American International Group (AIG) needed a government bailout during the 2008 recession. While many circumstances can influence the financial state of these corporations, their agency ratings are a valuable metric. A good rating is confirmation that an insurer can back your claim when it matters most.
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.
Customers claim that Progressive offers reasonable prices and attentive representatives. Our own experiences with Progressive were bolstered by its well-designed online quote tool. Like many insurance companies, Progressive relies on third-party underwriters, and most that do so automatically pair you with a single underwriter in order to produce a quote. Progressive furnishes quotes from several of its underwriting partners and allows you to choose the one that best suits you. This gives you the power to prioritize coverage and price.
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.”