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
Spring is in the air, so your thoughts may be turning to your garden. If so, you may enjoy this fascinating story about an army of working ducks. It’s a story that may have particular interest to gardeners who are thinking ahead to garden planting and maintenance, including the age-old battle of pest control. One South African vineyard has the ultimate organic solution to control slugs and snails: Ducks. Reuters features a must-see pictorial by photographer Mike Hutchings and correspondent Wendell Roelf, called Quacks Squad on the Hunt. The story includes an amusing video of ducks on the march – turn on your sound for the full effect – and a slideshow of photos.
Here is a clip narrated by the duck farmer that offers a little more detail.
If you’re getting started on your garden, but a thousand ducks don’t seem like a practical pest control solution for you, check out these great videos on gardening from local meteorologist and horticulturalist Dave Epstein – search for “pest” to get tips on controlling garden critters. It’s just one part of his site called Growing Wisdom, a one-stop shop for New England weather reports and gardening tips. You can also follow Dave on Twitter.
It’s National Preparedness Month, your annual reminder to plan in advance for how you’d weather an emergency or natural disaster such as a hurricane, wildfire, flood or crippling winter storm. Ready.gov urges us all to prepare in advance for emergencies, and offers great tips for how to do that. Part of that planning includes preparing for your pets. Every time there’s a national disaster, we hear heartbreaking stories of pets that were left behind in the rush to safety. Thankfully, dedicated pet rescuers join the recovery efforts and manage to save many of these animals – but they are sometimes never reunited with their humans. Planning for your family includes emergency planning for your family pet.
There’s another kind of pet planning you might consider this month, too: It’s National Pet Health Insurance Month. Pet veterinary care can be costly: “A report from the American Pet Products Association (APPA) shows that Americans spent $60.59 billion on their pets last year, a quarter of which was spent on veterinary care.” (See Before Your Dog Gets Sick, Consider Pet Insurance).
Today, there are more and more pet insurance or veterinary financing options available than ever before. Why not pick up the phone and talk to your independent agent about insurance options for taking care of your pets?
And as a bit of motivation, and because it’s Friday, here are some pet videos that might melt your heart.
Anticipation … you couldn’t leave this poor fellow at home alone in an emergency, could you?
Your moment of Zen – these kittens are still in the pet store but they need your care.
“These sure are funny looking leaping puppies,” thinks Maymo …
This bird will never let you hear the end of it if you forget about him in an emergency
Without human help, cats could take over the world
You’re no doubt aware of the dangers of identity theft, but have you heard of medical identity theft? It appears that thieves are not only eager to steal your personal information to make purchases, intercept your tax returns, open accounts or commit crimes, they’d also like to pose as you to get expensive medical services. It’s a serious, growing crime that can put your financial and physical health at risk. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) describes medical identity theft this way:
A thief may use your name or health insurance numbers to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, file claims with your insurance provider, or get other care. If the thief’s health information is mixed with yours, your treatment, insurance and payment records, and credit report may be affected.
Consumer Reports offers a good article on The Rise of Medical Identity Theft, noting that there were an estimated 2.3 million cases identified in 2014. They explain that it’s a crime that can go well beyond financial repercussions:
But there’s another, far more dangerous problem with medical identity theft: The thief’s own medical treatment, history, and diagnoses can get mixed up with your own electronic health records—potentially tainting and complicating your care for years to come. And that isn’t a hypothetical problem.
“About 20 percent of victims have told us that they got the wrong diagnosis or treatment, or that their care was delayed because there was confusion about what was true in their records due to the identity theft,” says Ann Patterson, a senior vice president of the Medical Identity Fraud Alliance (MIFA), a group of several dozen healthcare organizations and businesses working to reduce the crime and its negative effects.
Scary, right? Even scarier is that the thieves may be in your house right now! Consumer Reports notes that medical identity theft is sometimes called “friendly fraud” because it’s often perpetrated by family members. They cite a study by the Poneman Institute in which 47% of the respondents said the theft was perpetrated by a relative or someone else they knew, while only 10% was attributed to a data breach and 12% due to having been tricked into providing personal information.
Like identity theft, anyone can be a victim, but two groups are at particularly high risk:
The elderly, who may be more susceptible to scams
Children, whose health and financial records may not be guarded as carefully they should be
What can you do to protect yourself against this type of theft? Here’s a good place to start. Consumer Reports offers 10 Ways to Guard Against Medical Identity Theft. As with anything else, half the battle is awareness. Understanding the danger and taking basic precautions can help. Here are some other good medical identity theft resources: