November 4, 2008

 Here is my PSA. In case I forgot to inform anyone, I am now a licensed insurance agent in the state of Texas. I am not allowed to sell to anyone I know, so sorry in advance to anyone who had fleetingly hoped I would be able to help them get a better rate.  I am selling auto insurance, and after a particularly grueling day, I feel I need to educate the general public on a few items.
 - If you are getting a quote for someone else over the phone have them handy so that the agent can get their permission to run their credit, or have a phone number where you know they can be reached if you need to conference them into the call. 
 - If you are in a state that uses credit as a rating factor, like Texas, and they do not ask to speak with that person (unless that person is your spouse), do you really want to do business with them?
 - Almost all companies run credit, though there are some states that don't allow it. In a state that does allow credit as a rating factor, your credit is run even if you don't give your social security number. It is best for you to give it to them to get the most accurate quote, without it they may wind up getting inaccurate information, which may cost you more.
 - I don't know about all insurance companies, but the credit inquiry we run is considered a soft inquiry, and does not affect your credit score.
 - If you are in a state that uses credit as a rating factor, and you do not want to have your credit run, you may be out of luck. Check with an independent agent.
 - In most states if you have had any lapse in coverage, or have never had auto insurance before, you will have to pay more for your premiums. Please be prepared for this, and do not be surprised when the rate is higher than what you previously paid, or what you thought it would be.
 - In most cases the state minimums are not enough to protect you. For example, in Texas the minimums for liability are $25,000 per person for bodily injury up to $50,000 per accident, with $25,000 property damage. For example, if you were involved in an at fault accident with a 2006 Ford F150 you might not have enough coverage. If it is a serious accident and a family of four inside that truck is injured, you're looking at trouble. If you have assets like college savings for your children, or retirement savings, you can lose them if you are sued and do not have adequate coverage.
 - Trust me, unless you are made of money, and being out of work due to injuries will not effect that, you need uninsured motorist coverage as high as your liability limits. Uninsured motorist coverage does not pay for someone else's insurance. It protects you from someone who doesn't have insurance. If you are hit by an uninsured motorist, and you do not have the coverage, your health insurance and collision may cover you, but the collision claim will be included in your rating, and your rates will go up. 
 - I can only speak for myself and my experience, but insurance agents are not trying to take advantage of you. I do not have any sort of price point to meet, and I do not make commission, though many agents do. Insurance is not always cheap, and agents don't have much control over that. Most agents (those I know) are really only trying to protect you. If we fail to advise you properly because you "just want a quote" or "just want the state minimums" we can get into legal trouble, and possibly lose our licenses.
 - Please be patient, and provide information as accurately as possible. The questions we are asking are important, and if answered incorrectly may cause your policy price to increase later if we get the wrong information.
 - Please don't lie to us. That is called insurance fraud, and it is a big deal. We usually find out, and when we do it will make your rates go up. That is, if you aren't cancelled or taken to court.
 - If you are an unmarried guy under the age of 25, it is probably best if you do not buy a brand new high performance motorcycle. If you do, it is pretty likely that your insurance policy will cost you more than the monthly payment on your bike does.

This is just a very long start to all of the things that wind up being troublesome for me on a daily basis.


Emily said...

Also, I don't know if Texas has MedPay, but definitely sign up for it if it's offered to you. It's an excellent way to cover your medical expenses until a settlement can be reached, which can take months or years.

Corley said...

Texas has Med Pay or some companies offer Personal Injury Protection. Person Injury Protection is awesome because it pays for medical bills, lost wages, and contributes to funeral costs, if necessary. It pays for the insured and anyone occupying their vehicle with their permission.