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Some insurance agents, such as independent agents, will compare policies from multiple vendors. However, this does not mean that the agent has access to all of the vendor’s policies. As insurance agents represent insurers, they may or may not have the experience and expertise required to advise you regarding the best policy for your particular situation. While independent insurance agents may be able to offer you more choices as they work with companies that are competing for your business, they generally only sell the insurance options that will provide them with the biggest profits. Keep this in mind when choosing between an insurance broker and insurance agent.
In that same vein, we were impressed by Nationwide’s “better roof replacement” coverage. This add-on will help pay to repair your roof with stronger, safer materials if it’s damaged by a covered peril. First off, that’s a good thing because a sturdier roof will hold up better in the future. But it’s also important because a better roof means cheaper homeowners insurance rates. So if you know your roof is getting up there in age, it may be worth paying a little extra now for better roof replacement — it could save you money in the long run.
Although insurance brokers work for their clients, they aren’t paid by them. Instead, they make commissions based on their sales. The commission is a percentage of the premium cost and varies by state law. It usually is between two and eight percent of the premium. If you work with a broker to buy homeowners, automobile, health, business, life or any other type of insurance, you will not pay them a fee for the services they provide.
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Term assurance provides life insurance coverage for a specified term. The policy does not accumulate cash value. Term insurance is significantly less expensive than an equivalent permanent policy but will become higher with age. Policy holders can save to provide for increased term premiums or decrease insurance needs (by paying off debts or saving to provide for survivor needs).
Brian E. Johnson ACAS, MAAA is the Chief Underwriting Officer for the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance. Mr. Johnson has worked in the consulting, insurance and re-insurance industry for 28 years. Prior to joining the Alliance, Mr. Johnson managed a Treaty Reinsurance Underwriting/Costing team at Swiss Re. Prior to Swiss Re, he was with Employers Re from 2003-2006 as a Senior Underwriter/Account Executive and a Senior Actuary. Mr. Johnson was with American Re from 1996-2003 and held the positions of Underwriting Risk Manager, Treaty Underwriting Manager and Actuarial Manager. He began his career in 1989 in the Actuarial field with Ernst & Young as an Actuarial Consultant in Atlanta and also worked as a Primary Insurance Rating Actuary at USF&G in Baltimore. Mr. Johnson holds a BS in Mathematics/Actuarial Science from Penn State University and is an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. Mr. Johnson has worked with various nonprofits in the past including serving on the board of the Mid-State Literacy Council in Central Pennsylvania.
Nationwide has a reputation for expensive policies. On the Better Business Bureau website, customer reviews reveal that quotes from Nationwide tend to be more expensive than the competition. We always recommend shopping around for quotes, but if price is your main consideration, Nationwide may not be your best bet. For homeowners more interested in full and specific coverage endorsements than price, it’s worth screening a policy.
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.
Only eight companies out of the 14 below made our top picks list. Those listed as “best for…” each stood out to us in a certain area, whether it was a unique coverage option, stellar customer service, or an easy shopping process. That said, the other half may have options that interest you. (For instance: If you have an auto insurance policy with one of these companies, you might want to consider bundling discounts.)
If you make any home improvements or security upgrades, you might be able to reduce your premium — but only if you tell your insurer. Before investing in any renovations on your home, double-check what discounts are available. Chances are you already have the basics down, such as deadbolts and smoke alarms. But your insurer may reduce your rate if you go the extra mile with carbon monoxide detectors and home security systems (provided they're monitored). That also extends to improvements that help guard against natural disasters, like storm shutters and stronger windows. However, not every addition will help your premium. Trampolines, swimming pools, and “risky” dog breeds such as pit bulls will make your homeowners insurance company cringe. They’re all liability concerns, and liability concerns make rates go up.
In the same vein of guaranteeing robust policies, we also wanted to see a range of endorsements (optional provisions that extend coverage in various ways). The more endorsements offered, the greater the possibility of filling in any gaps that your home and location demand. Earthquake coverage, for example, is a common endorsement for Los Angeles homes.
Because an insurance broker is third-party, they receive a commission for their services. The broker’s compensation is typically provided by the insurance carrier as a percentage of the policy premium. The broker may also charge a flat fee for their services, but the nonprofit should be informed of what additional services they will receive before agreeing to such a fee. Most nonprofit brokers do not charge additional service fees.