Evaluate Your Renters Insurance Company
Comparing renters insurance quotes is a smart way to shop for the right policy, coverage and premium. It is also as important to do your research and spend time evaluating the insurance company and agent that you choose to do business with.
When working with an insurance agent, it is good start with a list of questions to ensure you get all the answers you need to make an informed decision.
What happens in the event you have to submit a claim?
Start with the first steps -- do they have a 24-hour claim service? Do you call a 1--800 number or do you call your agent directly? How is it done? Can you submit the claim online or do you need to fax a form to the agent?
When it comes to submitting a claim, it's best to avoid surprises. One of the most critical aspects of choosing renters insurance is knowing the difference between actual cash value and replacement cost.
If you should have to submit a claim for stolen or damaged property, there could be a significant difference between what the insurance company gives you as actual cash value versus what you would get to replace your property with new items. Your agent should be able to explain the difference between the two types of coverage and help you to decide if you need a replacement cost rider added to your policy.
How does the claim process work?
When it comes to the claims process, this is where things differ dramatically -- how long does it take from the time you submit a claim to when you receive a check? Some cases take as little as 48 hours, while others can take months and months.
Going back to the replacement value, ask specifically how this works as well. In the past, if you had this type of coverage that covered your $1,000 T.V., you would receive a check for that amount. These days it works differently. Most likely you'll receive a check of actual value, i.e. $200 for the T.V., and when you actually buy the new T.V. you receive the remaining $800 after you've submitted proof of purchase in the format required by the policy. In a case like this, it is important to know if the insurance company has provisions for this scenario by having pre-arranged purchasing agreements with retail organizations, such as an electronics store, and how long it takes to pay back the initial out-of-pocket monies you have to pay up front.
What is your insurance company's reputation?
There are hundreds of insurance companies across the country in all shapes and sizes. So what do you know about the insurance companies that have provided you with your insurance quotes? Are they financially stable and will they be still be in operation if you need to submit a claim?
There are resources at your disposal that will enable you to do your research. Major rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's, Moody's and A.M. Best, are full-service credit rating organizations that offer policyholders and consumers with ratings and analysis as a means of assessing financial strength and creditworthiness of companies.
How does your insurance company operate?
If the potential insurance companies are located within the town where you live, have a face-to-face meeting. This will enable you to establish a more personal relationship. But if you can only talk with an agent on the phone, you can still get the information you need. Start by asking the agent how their service works. Do they offer a discount if you set up automatic payments? How often will your policy be reviewed and how is the review done? Do you need to contact them or are they proactive in setting up a review?
If you do your homework and take a little bit of time to ask questions, you'll feel more confident that you've chosen the right insurance company for you - one that will provide you the level of service you deserve.
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