Navigating the intricacies of the insurance game can be a tedious, not to mention time consuming, but knowing how to make it work for you will provide the best coverage at the best rates…and peace of mind.
Insurance is not one of the things you think about often, but it might be wise to. Laws change frequently as do individual policy needs—whether it be houses, cars, jewelry or precious heirlooms—and then there are the external influences. Consider our visit from tropical storm Irene last month (and the preceding earthquake). Significant natural occurrences effect the market (because it instigates claims being filed, which drives the costs), but it also increases Long Island’s risk status for insurance companies in a wide range of areas from flood to wind to the general “force majeure” (aka, “act of God”). To wit, insurance giants State Farm and Allstate are not renewing or writing new business in much of the Island.
All is not lost—other companies are stepping in to fill those empty shoes, making it a good time to assess your policies and your agent’s performance. Can you say caveat emptor? Ultimately, like finding the right attorney, accountant or mechanic, it’s up to the consumer to do a little homework to avoid being under insured or in default.
Bundling your policies to create a portfolio that works in consort, cannot only simplify the labyrinthine process, but can offer discounts. “It’s always better to package your insurance,” confirms Kevin Lang, President of Lang Insurance. “You will receive multi-policy discounts, which lower your total cost and carriers look at the account as a whole account, meaning they are receiving more premiums on other risks other than just your home.” Lang has been in the industry for over 30 years focusing on “high net worth” individuals’ Personal Private Client Insurance in all 50 states, which gives him insight into the ever-shifting nuances of vacation properties and primary residences across the country as well as grandmother’s pearls, the art, the antique sports car parked at the Gold Coast home and the sailboat docked at the South Shore retreat.
Before signing on, to either the agent or the policy, ask questions. And hone your interviewing skills—pay attention to what questions are being asked of you. At moment’s notice, the agent should be able to dispatch a team of appraisers who specialize in the assets in need of coverage (art, jewelry, furs, cars, etc,) to determine the value and appropriate level of insurance. The right agent should take your business as personally as you do and be sympathetic (but realistic) about the sentimental value you attach to your assets.
What does this all mean to you in the dollars in cents? Costs are additionally assessed by an individual’s “insurance score,” number of policies and so on. It’s no wonder more than half the people polled say they are both dissatisfied with their insurer and likely to switch when renewal comes around. Lang is up for the challenge, “We automatically review each policy at renewal to analyze whether another carrier can offer a better rate or other advantages… There should be no reason for an individual to shop if they have a good agent.”
Kevin Lang’s clients range from flamboyant—the gentleman with $2 million worth of clothing insured—to salt of the earth. Lang once flew an 89-year-old man to Florida to buy a life insurance policy because no carrier in New York would insure him, claiming the man was unhealthy, although he was walking his dog three miles a day. At age 100, he was still a client of Lang’s, though the dog had long since passed. He’s also saving clients money at langins.com.
Tips on CYA (covering your assets)
Three things to know: Document, Document Document!
1. Take video, pictures and written inventory of your assets every two or three years, or as significant changes occur.
2. Send copies to your agent to have on file.
3. Store copies of important receipts, certificates of authenticity, warranties and those inventory videos, photos and checklists in a fireproof safe.