Another reason why local insurance agents are a good bet


On more than one occasion, we’ve touted the many ways that buying insurance through a local insurance agency is a good bet – personal service, expertise, advocacy, risk mitigation and more. But here’s another reason — local agents give back to the communities in which they do business. They live locally, they hire locally, they buy locally – and they give back to the community.

Here’s a case in point – and it’s only one example among many: Mariela’s Miles.

Every year in May, Renaissance Alliance employees participate in a program started by a true rock star in our accounting department, Mariela. The program is called “Mariela’s Miles” in her honor.

The program raises $1.00 for charity for every mile walked by staff members during the month of May. Last year, the charitable recipient was the Veteran’s Associate Medical Center of West Roxbury, MA in loving memory of Mariela’s husband. This year, staff is raising money for Autism Speaks, an organization dedicated to raising awareness and improving the lives of individuals with autism and related conditions.

We are pleased to announce that between the Renaissance Alliance corporate office in Wellesley, MA and the Bakker Insurance Agency in Avon, CT we walked a total of 1,062.12 miles, raising $1,062.12 for a great cause.

We think that programs like Mariela’s Miles are an excellent way to support important causes that make the world a better place while having a secondary benefit of giving employees that extra little motivation to engage in a healthy activity.

We challenge other agencies to launch a charitable walking program. The American Heart Association offers a toolkit on how to set up a workplace walking program. Charity driven, employer-sponsored health initiatives are a great-win-win opportunity for your agency. Connect with a local charity and have your staff drum up some fitness challenges that your agency supports with a donation. Or if you’d prefer, you can connect with organized charity events.

Here are some events that you and your staff could get involved in:

 

The value of working with a local, independent insurance agent


Check out this short video clip on the value of working with an independent insurance agent. We spied it on Twitter the other day, posted by one of our great insurance company partners, Safety Insurance. It talks about the value, expertise and advocacy services that agents provide 24/7.

Joe Harrington of Markham Group, one of our Renaissance Alliance agency members,
made a good case for why you should use an independent agent in a blog post a few years ago. We think he said it well, so we reprint it here:

For some people it does not matter where they buy their insurance. That decision could be costing them money, service and proper protection. Buying insurance is not like buying gasoline at a gas station. It is an important financial decision in protecting those things that are important to you such as your family, home, autos and business.
Independent agencies differ greatly from direct insurance carriers or the internet based insurance companies. In brief, here are the three ways to buy insurance:

Captive Agents: Insurance agents that sell you the insurance policy of one (1) direct carrier.

Internet Based Agents: Agents who potentially represent multiple insurance carriers, but are unable to provide the best customer service and personal knowledge to properly protect you with your changing needs.

Independent Insurance Agents: Agents who represent an average of six – eight insurance carriers. Independent agents are able to research these carriers to find you the best combination of price, coverage and services to properly protect your assets.
Your Independent Insurance Agent:

  • Is a licensed professional with strong customer and community ties
  • Provides excellent customer service and competitive premiums because your agent can access coverage from multiple insurance carriers
  • Because an independent agency represents multiple carriers, the agent can provide flexibility as your insurance needs change. If your insurance needs no longer match your present insurance carrier, the independent agent can easily transition you to another carrier
  • Assists you when you have a claim
  • Is your consultant, working with you to determine your proper insurance needs
  • Saves you premium by looking at the best combination of price, coverage and service
  • Provides full service by offering a full range of insurance products such as home, renters, condo, auto, business, life and health
  • Knows you by name and not by a policy number. An independent agent treats you like a person

We’ve also compiled some articles from other insurance partners and other financial experts who offer more testimony about the benefits of working with your local independent insurance agent.

Don’t have an agent? Find a local, independent insurance agency near you.

 

 

A fresh look for 2017: Re-assess your insurance needs


financial planning

Insurance isn’t a once-and-done thing – it requires a periodic assessment of the changing circumstances in your life and a thoughtful evaluation of whether you should add  protection against any new risks. As you budget for the new year and prep for tax season, it’s the perfect timing to think about these things.

With the start of a new year and the emphasis on resolutions, there have been a few good articles on insurance that caught our attention. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners issued a handy Insurance Checklist for the New Year. It offers some considerations about common forms of insurance – life, home/rental, health, auto.

When new life events occur, you should review of insurance coverage. You may need to add a new type of coverage, you may want to raise or lower deductibles on an existing policy, or there may be opportunities for savings or discounts. Your independent insurance agent will be able to inform you about various coverage options – but can only advise you based upon what he or she knows.

Here’s a list of life events that should trigger a call to your independent insurance agent:

  • Marriage
  • Divorce
  • Birth or adoption of a child
  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Military deployment
  • Purchasing a new home, condo, or a second home
  • Home renovation
  • Adding buildings to your property
  • Renting out your home
  • Moving to a new geographic area
  • Renting an apartment
  • A teen child getting an auto license
  • Getting a new car
  • Joining a carpool
  • Acquiring expensive electronics, antiques, jewelry, furs, or specialty collections
  • Acquiring a recreational vehicle – boat, motorcycle, snowmobile
  • Getting a recreational drone
  • Changing jobs and job benefits
  • Retiring
  • Starting a small business
  • Joining the sharing economy, such as renting property through Airbnb or driving for Uber

Lacie Glover at Nerd Wallet, USA Today offers good risk limiting advice for us all with her 10 smart insurance resolutions for 2017.  We particularly like #1 – making an inventory – and #9 – informing beneficiaries about your policy. We’d go one step further and suggest that you look at any insurance policies and financial accounts and make sure your contact information and beneficiaries are updated. People often forget to keep those things up to date – unfortunate consequences can ensue: you might not intend to leave your home, your 401K or your life insurance to an ex-spouse, but it could happen if you forget to update your beneficiaries when circumstances change. See our best practices for updating your beneficiaries for insurance policies and retirement plans.

 

The benefits of working with your local independent insurance agent


Whether you’re seeking commercial or personal insurance, an agent can bring a lot of value to the table. There are plenty of online price comparison tools, but getting the right coverage to protect your business, your personal assets and your family involves more consideration than just price. Explore some of the other advantages to working with an independent agent in the links below. And we invite you to check our expert list of independent Renaissance Alliance members in the sidebar or find a New England insurance agent near you.

4 Advantages of an Independent Insurance Agent
FinancialWeb summarizes a few key benefits of working with professional independent insurance agents.

Why Use an Independent Insurance Agency?
Our own Renaissance Alliance member Joe Harrington of Markham Priest Insurance talks about 3 ways to buy insurance and lists some of the benefits of an independent agent.

Insurance: An easier way to comparison shop
At the personal finance blog Get Rich Slowly, April Dykman talks about the experiences that led her to use an independent agent instead of flying solo.

Benefits of an Independent Insurance Agent
Safeco, one of our partner insurers, talks about what to look for in a good insurance agent.

Benefit from the personal attention of a Travelers independent agent
Another of our partner insurers offers a testimony to the benefits of buying insurance through an independent agent.

What do I need to know about insurance? 5 things


This is a guest post by Gordon Insurance Agency, a Renaissance Alliance member agency. It is a post that was previously featured on the Agency’s Personal Insurance Blog.
Insurance can be puzzling- the more you know, the better. As surprising as this may sound, insurance is not entirely about the price. Thus, we’ve created a list of things-to-know about insurance for your convenience.
1. Amount of coverage
What do you want to protect? That’s the overall question for deciding the amount of coverage you need. The best advice we can offer you is for you to think about all the things that could potentially happen. Or consult a professional agent who will ask lots of questions to uncover areas you need to pay special attention. Although you might want to push these thoughts to the side (i.e. “that could never happen to me!”), someone has to think of these situations. Nobody plans for a car accident or a guest being injured at his/her house, yet these sorts of things happen all the time. A good way to cover a lot of these is by running down a prepared list such as this checklist for your homeowners insurance.
2. Risk level
The amount of risk you take sometimes depends on one aspect of your life: money. If you have available money, then choosing a policy with high deductibles is probably the best option for you. Remember, “Insure only what you can’t afford to lose.”
Obviously, this part of our list is also going to discuss risk. Some policies cover more than other policies do, so be informed on what risks you can afford to take, as well as what is the cost of transferring that risk (via insurance)? An example of this is would be a dog with a biting history. The only company that will offer coverage after a dog has bitten someone (resulting in an insurance claim) is the Massachusetts Fair Plan (MPIUA). But they might do so with a $25,000 limit of liability for dog bites. So you have to ask, is the dog worth that much to me that if he/she bites someone and it results in a $100,000 claim (we’ve had one here that exceeded that, and not even from a dog ‘on the list’), are you prepared to pony up the next $75,000? Make sure you know what is covered on your policy, and be careful with what chances you take where insurance doesn’t go.
3. Insurance company
People often assume that the insurance company will be able to handle anything and everything- you should never assume. If the company goes under, or even if the company stays around but has poor finances, then you won’t get what you need. The best way to make sure that your company will be able to provide for you is to check a credit rating agency. We recommend A.M. Best Company for this. Other credit rating agencies include Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s.
4. Discounts
Everybody loves saving money; discounts can be available all around you, and you might not even know it! For a list of most prevalent (MA) auto insurance discounts, click our video and list. For homeowners discounts, visit our short video on homeowners discounts here. Account discounts, where you have two lines or more (such as home and auto), are often the most compelling.
Always ask your agent questions, he/she is there is serve YOU.
5. When do I need to look at new insurance?
Certain life changes will cause you to look at new insurance. These changes include:

  • Starting a new business
  • Buying an additional home
  • Adding a driver to the auto policy
  • Changing jobs (especially if you leave a rich benefits plan for a bare bones benefits employer)
  • Volunteer work (such as serving on the board of a non-profit organization)

This list just helps prove a very important point: insurance is not only about the price. For a few extra dollars, you can have all sorts of things protected. Think back to the dog example- imagine how expensive it would be to defend a bad dog bite without insurance! When it comes to insurance, price is important, but it’s not the only thing that matters.