The Dangers of Shopping of Insurance Online
Books. Batteries. Even pizza. You can buy anything online now. You can comparison shop and bargain
hunt as long as you wish, spend less time, maybe less money … and choose from many options. It seems
shopping online is a win-win proposition.
Not always. For some products, you’ll only lose, and insurance is one of them.
With so many websites providing insurance quotes, you might think shopping for insurance online is
completely safe, but that’s not always the case. Here are some of the dangers of shopping online for
Missing out on discounts
If you’re a new insurance shopper, or don’t know a lot about insurance, you won’t know what discounts
you may be eligible for. In fact, there’s a wealth of discounts, some reducing your premiums by up to
10%. These include:
- Safe driver discount
- Good student discounts
- ehicles with safety and anti-theft features
- Affinity discounts, given for belonging to certain organizations, working for certain employers, or for alumni of certain schools.
- New family discounts for newly married couples or those who have just had a child
- Multi-policy discounts for carrying two or more policies with the same insurer
Not all quoting websites recognize that you may be eligible for discounts. They may not connect the dots,
and it’s highly unlikely they’ll ask. For example, the website doesn’t ask if you recently married or had a
child and would therefore be eligible for a discount. Your loss is their gain. Your personal insurance
agent, on the other hand, knows what to ask and will give you quotes that may land you discounts.
Premiums that increase after you’ve bought
Say you’ve provided all the information required for quotes and decide to purchase the policy that is
right-priced. Then you receive your new policy in the mail and discover your premium has doubled. Even
worse, the online company tells you you’re ineligible for coverage and your policy will soon be cancelled.
How does this happen?
After buying a policy, it’s sent to underwriters for review and official approval. Depending on the policy type, there may be other steps, like visiting homes or businesses. Usually when changes in premiums or eligibility happen between the time of purchase and the time of the first bill, it’s because the purchaser has left out information – either accidentally or on purpose – and it was later discovered by the underwriters.
Other times, the site didn’t pick up on or correctly factor in information found in the new policy reports they submit to insurers. People, reports, and even computers make mistakes, and small pieces of information discovered afterwards can change everything.
Not getting, or knowing, what you need
Always compare apples to apples – be sure the policies you are comparing are identical in every way.
This isn’t always easy, especially online. You need to know what you want. Or else.
Most online quoting systems default to the lowest coverage amounts and leave out options like roadside
assistance. If you don’t pay attention, you won’t be guided to other options as you would if you were
dealing with an experienced agent familiar with your situation. You may get attractive quotes. However,
you probably won’t have adequate coverage or will have less coverage than you have had previously.
Some online insurers encourage you to click through without examining the options and will give you
quotes that are cheaper than what you’ve had. But just try going to the FAQs online to find answers to
Beware of websites promoting “name your own price” tools. You can name your price, but 99% of the
time to get it you’ll end up with a bare-bones policy with the lowest coverage limits available.
For example, in the case of bodily injury coverage, you may pay $30 monthly for limits of $25,000 to
$50,000. But you’re hardly saving if you cause an accident and injure someone, only to find yourself
responsible for their $200,000 medical bills. With an agent, you’ll be well-informed, know what options
you need, why you need them and in what amounts.
The internet is a great tool, but it can’t ask or answer questions, make suggestions, or look for missed
savings opportunities. Buy the wrong sized sweater online – send it back. Buy the wrong policy online?
No refunds given, and you may suffer consequences for a long time.
August 2015 - Newsletter
Inside Your Newsletter this Month...
· Is Your Home - and Your Family - Really Safe?
· Is Your Child's 'Stuff' Covered in the Dorm?
· Batteries - The Next Frontier for a Device Focused Society
· How to Spice Up Office or School Lunches
· Ensure the Right Coverage: Provide the Right Information
· Worth Quoting
· Retro Recipe: Auntie Ruth's Ham Salad Loaf
· Do You Know the Answer to Our Quiz?
Is Your Child's 'Stuff' Covered in the Dorm?
Your child is leaving the nest. The car is packed to the hilt and pointed toward campus. Among your concerns about tuition, courses, and when you will see your child next, have you considered the contents of your car? Will your student's belongings be insured in his or her dorm?
While the contents of a dorm room often include secondhand furniture and repurposed thrift store items, among these there will probably be a few pricey electronic devices, gadgets, and gear. Chances are you (and your departing student) have been too busy to consider the importance of insuring these possessions. Homeowners or renters insurance policies usually cover your student's belongings in the dorm, but here are a few things you may not have thought of:
· Check your policy. Confirm your student's possessions are covered as part of your homeowners policy.
· Check your limits. Policies sometimes limit dorm coverage to 10% of the total, meaning a policy providing $150,000 coverage for possessions at your residence may only provide dorm room coverage up to $15,000. That may seem like a lot, but consider the replacement cost. Take inventory. Before it's all crammed into the dorm room, make a detailed list, including values. Create a file including receipts for electronics and other high-end items in case you have to make a claim.
· Consider options and alternatives. While your homeowners policy may cover your student's laptop from theft, it won't replace it if it's shorted out by a spilled Frappuccino. For individual items, consider riders or special warranties that protect against such accidental damage. And, of course, items such as heirlooms and expensive jewelry are better left at home. When your child leaves home for college, the experience can be wrenching, exciting, busy, and frustrating. Make sure it's not a bad one by insuring your student's personal possessions before you start packing the car.
When your child leaves home for college, the experience can be wrenching, exciting, busy, and frustrating. Make sure it's not a bad one by insuring your student's personal possessions before you start packing the car.
Each month I'll give you a new question.
Just reply to this email for the answer. What does Earth's name mean?
Retro Recipe: Auntie Ruth's Ham Salad Loaf
Serves 4 to 6
1 tablespoon gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
2 cups minced cooked ham
1/2 cup celery, chopped
1/2 cup crushed soda crackers
1 pimento, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons onion, chopped
2 hard-boiled eggs
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup whipped-type dressing
Lemon slices and dill to garnish
Soak gelatin in cold water and dissolve in hot water. Mix all remaining ingredients, adding dressing last. Stir in the gelatin and mix well. Turn into a loaf pan lined with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until set. Garnish with lemon slices and fresh dill.
Batteries - The Next Frontier for a Device
No matter what device you depend on-a flashlight, a smartphone, or a computer-it likely won't work without a battery. Yet the science behind batteries has been relatively underwhelming. Until now.
Much of the key development work on batteries dates back to the 1800s. And since then the lowly battery has powered our society in a relatively low-key way. Now, however, the battery needs to join the 21st century. And investors such as billionaire Warren Buffet are betting its time has come.
As Michael J. De La Merced noted in The New York Times, "By essentially agreeing to swap his firm's holdings in P&G, worth about $4.7 billion, in exchange for Duracell, Mr. Buffett will gain one of the best-known battery companies in the world." Plus market share.
While many claim Buffett's purchase is a tax maneuver, others believe he sees big opportunities in today's $50 billion global battery market. Batteries represent the new frontier. And Buffet is not alone in noticing.
Tesla, under CEO Elon Musk, recently launched the Powerwall home battery to revolutionize the way we use energy, envisioning a network of home batteries acting as power plants. The product, initially high-priced, will become more affordable and more desirable, Musk believes.
Meanwhile, Science Daily's Battery News regularly highlights new developments in batteries, ranging from "squishies" made from wood pulp to an ultrafast aluminum battery. These days it seems a lot of important players are charged up over batteries. And they're betting big.
This month, some famous quotes on the topic of past, present, and future:
Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.
Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a gift. That's why it's called the present.
The past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities.
In every conceivable manner, the family is a link to our past, a bridge to our future.
Look back, and smile on perils past.
Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past.
How to Spice Up Office or School Lunches
Packed lunches are often boring. So what's a better way to spice up office or school lunches than, well, a little spice?
Caroline Craig and Sophie Missing, authors of The Little Book of Lunch, write in The Guardian: "Our palates have become accustomed to spicy and exotic additions, and we expect the deep, often complex flavor that spices provide whatever meal we're eating." And that's especially true for drab, and sometimes rushed, lunchtime meals.
The authors' suggestions include harissa, a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste that goes on everything from veggies to chicken dishes. (Refer to the Guardian post at Spicy lunch ideas or check online for recipes.) You can also add spicy oils to noodle soup, or rub leftover chicken with cumin and moisten with mayo for a yummy sandwich. Try marinating any meat with spices, roasting, and wrapping in a pita with lettuce and tomato.
But one word of caution: be sure to use thermoses or cold packs to keep your spicy lunches well chilled. Hummus and olives should be kept cold as well. Let's face it: No one wants ptomaine poisoning-especially at lunch.
Ensure the Right Coverage: Provide the
Whether you're a new home buyer or just reviewing your current policy, it's important to get the right coverage.
There's a lot of important information about your home that you need to share with your agent, and knowing the answers beforehand makes the process easier for both of you. As a new buyer, you'll be providing the information for the first time, while current policy holders will need to update the information through a regular policy review with your agent.
If you are a new buyer, your agent will need the purchase price, address, year built, and construction type, as well as the square footage and type of foundation. Don't forget the dimensions of any garage, porches, decks, and basements. Your agent will also need to know if there are any "attractive nuisances" on the property (pools, trampolines, or playgrounds), and the proximity to fire hydrants and the fire department.
As well, you should include information on heat and electricity types, any additional heating, roof type, and plumbing details. Include information on home alarms and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If the home was built before 1990, note when the roof was last replaced and the heating updated. Finally, provide details of your previous policy and any previous claims.
If you're reviewing your policy, consider whether any of the items above have changed. Have you built an addition, had your roof reshingled, added a pool, or changed your type of heating? It's all important to your coverage. And to you.