How to Prepare for Your Consultation with an Insurance Agent

How to Prepare for Your Consultation with an Insurance Agent

Shopping insurance plans can be complicated—not only do you have to navigate all the different options, plans, and companies, but oftentimes you’ll have to translate those into real-world scenarios, and in the end not know if you are fully covered or not.

It’s for this reason that having an insurance agent is beneficial. Not only will you have a pro on your side to help you determine what coverage is best for you and your family, but you’ll also have someone by your side in case something happens and you need to take advantage of your insurance plan. 

The first step in this process—before you even select an insurance provider, in many cases—is to schedule a consultation with them. In this initial meeting you’ll be able to ask questions, explore plan options and learn more about the company—and the agent—you are engaging to help you with this very important financial decision. 

What should I plan on for a consultation meeting?

Once you’ve scheduled your consultation meeting, there are a few things that you should do in order to prepare for it, to take full advantage of your time with your (potential) agent. Here are a few things that you should keep in mind and get ready for your first meeting. 

Do your research

Doing a bit of research is the first step to any meeting with your insurance agent, and the initial consultation is no different. You’ll need to be able to verbalize what pieces of your life you want to insure (home, cars, businesses or other property), as well as know what kind of coverage and/or how much budget you can put toward this risk mitigation.  Fortunately, there are plenty of resources online to help you think through these questions and a number of calculators that can help you get a rough idea of how much coverage you can afford.  Finally, research the company that you are meeting with. Do they provide all the different types of coverage you may need? What are their values? These things are important as you search for an insurance provider who will be a partner with you in your journey.

Build a list of questions

As you go through the research process, it’s bound to bring some questions to the surface. How are these two plans different? What would it cost if I increased this coverage, but not that? Should I move all our property to one company? All of these are questions that your agent can help guide you through to find a solution that matches your needs, but only if you remember to ask them.  While you’re doing your research, keep a small notebook handy to catch all the things that come to mind, and take that with you to your meeting to ensure you get all the information you need.

Gather your paperwork

Before you meet, it’s important to have any relevant paperwork pulled together so that you can use the time together to move toward finding solutions, but this may mean you need to put a few things together, first. Here is a quick guide of things to get together, depending on the type of insurance you are considering. 

Automobiles and Other Vehicles

  • Drivers license and Social Security Number
  • Automobile registration info
  • Information about drivers (age, gender, driving record)
  • Information about your vehicles (age, value, accident record, make, model, and year)

House or Apartment

  • Appraisal/Valuation
  • Age of home
  • Foundation structure
  • Additions (trampoline, swimming pool, alarm systems, new additions)

Health or Life Insurance

  • Age/Gender of those covered
  • Medical history and current conditions
  • Personal habits (like smoking)
  • Debt and Income (for life insurance)

Business Insurance

  • Risk assessment
  • Number of employees and type of work
  • Property, including building, equipment, and lease or own status
  • Type of business (to determine liability or risk)
  • Vehicles
  • Key Employees (what employees does the company want to cover?)

Consider service, not just price

While a lot of your first meeting may focus on price and the details of your coverage, make sure you are also considering the service you will get as a customer.  How do their claims processes work? Will an agent be available to you for any questions along the way? How easy is it to change coverage in case of a shift in your needs? All of these things—and how they are answered—will help you determine if that specific agency is a good fit for you as a client.

No matter what type of insurance you are considering, Penny Insurance is available to you as our next customer. Should you have any questions about coverage or insurance types, or if you would like to schedule a consultation or get a quote, please contact us and let us know. 

4 Things You Should Know About Independent Insurance Agencies

4 Things You Should Know About Independent Insurance Agencies

When it comes to insurance agencies, there are big insurance companies, and then there are places like Penny Insurance. The big difference between us and them is that we’re an independent insurance agency. We’re smaller, but we work with the big companies to provide insurance to our clients.

Whether you’re covered by a larger, prominent insurance agency or a small, local one like ours, there are some things you should know about independent insurance agents. 

The Truth About Independent Insurance Agencies

They know you.

Independent insurance agents make it their job to connect with you on a personal level. They’re equally as invested in your life and your goals as they are in your insurance premiums. 

When you call an independent insurance agent, you can actually expect them to pick up the phone because they’ll probably give you their direct line on day one. You don’t have to navigate a phone tree to find the right department and a qualified person to answer your questions. Even better, you can easily set up an in-person meeting with your agent – and they’d probably be stoked about it. 

In short, independent agents are in it for the long haul. You’re not just a number or another reason to deal with paperwork. You’re someone they feel responsible for.

They work for you.

An insurance agent at a mainstream agency is going to sell you their agency’s insurance because that’s who they work for. 

Independent agencies are a little bit different. They work for you first. They find out what you need and want, and then they call on the big insurance companies to meet those needs. That’s why they’re called independent agencies – they’re not tied to any one insurance provider. Think of them as a mediator between you and the insurance you buy. (AKA: You’ll never have to wait on hold to talk to those big companies again).

They simplify your life.

Because an independent insurance agent has access to so many different types of insurance, they have the power to consolidate all of your insurance coverage needs in one place. Need car insurance? They’ll find it. Need homeowner’s insurance? No problem. Need life insurance? Done. 

You get the picture. 

Now picture this: Paying one insurance bill each month. Or, calling the same agent every time you have a question about any of your insurances. Talk about a simpler life!

They save you money.

We all have that friend who’s a pro at finding the best deals. If there’s a bargain out there, they’re going to find it. Your independent insurance agent is that friend. They’re your personal bargain shopper. They shop around at all of these agencies to find the best deal. Cliché as it may sound, they’re saving you significant amounts of time and money.

We want to talk to you.

If you have more questions about what it’s like to work with an independent insurance agency, give us a call. We have a pretty good grasp on the ins and outs of this industry, and we’d love to give you a realistic look at what insurance coverage through an independent agency would look like for you.

4 Ways to Teach Your Teen Safe Driving

4 Ways to Teach Your Teen Safe Driving

Few things scare a parent more than having a teen driver. The learning curve is sharp – both for
your teen driver and for yourself as you strive to become an effective and poised teacher.

When your teen is driving, it can be difficult to determine which driving tendencies demand
correction and which ones are okay to overlook. To avoid nitpicking their every move, it’s
better to encourage safe driving habits that will make them a better and safer driver overall. In
this blog, we’re going to cover four skills to teach your teen driver.

Mind your speed.

Speeding is not only a major cause of teen car accidents, but it’s also a factor that worsens the
effects of an accident.

If your teen has a lead foot, explain to them the risks of driving over the speed limit. Many
teens assume that as long as they avoid a speeding ticket, they’re not hurting anyone. But a
speeding ticket is minor compared to being liable for causing an accident and injuring someone
due to driving too fast.

Drive free of food and drinks.

Parents are quick to tell their teens to never drink and drive. But what about driving and
eating?

Eating at the wheel really is distracting, and for a teen who’s inexperienced to begin with, it is
often the cause of fender benders and other accidents.

The piece you may not want to hear is that your teens are watching you drive and learning from
your habits, good or bad. If you’re dressing a salad while trying to watch the road, or driving
with the steering wheel between your knees while eating a chicken sandwich, they’re likely to
feel confident in doing the same.

Set a good example for your teen drivers. They may not want to listen to your lectures in the
car, but leading by example goes a long way.

Manage the social scene.

Food is certainly not the only distraction teen drivers face. Passengers, loud music, and phones
are all common, and often, unmonitored distractions.

The best way to manage social distractions is to, again, set a good example. Put your phone in
the back seat when you get behind the wheel. Ask a passenger to respond to urgent text
messages for you instead of attempting to text while driving. Better yet, put your phone in
driving mode. (Honestly, even if you don’t have a teen driver, these are excellent habits to
form).

While helpful for sending text messages, passengers can be a major distraction for teen drivers.
It’s best to limit the number of friends your teen is allowed to have in the car while driving. Give
them time to acclimate to the road before their car turns into a social hub.

Arrive at Your Destination Before Dark.

Because teen drivers are inexperienced, nighttime driving presents a common risk. Not only are
things more difficult to see in the dark, but chances are, your teen is going to be more tired at
night, and so will other drivers.

If your teen is driving at night, help them take note of areas that require their utmost attention
such as…

  • Busy roads
  • Historically dangerous intersections
  • Construction zones
  • Pedestrian-heavy areas

The more alert your teen is while driving, the safer they will be.

Will you have a teen driving soon? Contact Penny Insurance about adding your new driver to
your auto insurance policy.

Home for the Holidays

Home for the Holidays

The funny thing about the phrase “home for the holidays” is that most of us are actually out and about more than ever during the holiday season. Whether we’re out shopping for Christmas gifts, attending parties, or visiting family, it seems like we’re anywhere but home.

Unfortunately, being away from home paired with traditional holiday activities and decor create the perfect recipe for holiday hazards. What you as a homeowner need to know is whether or not your home insurance has you covered for those unexpected, yet all too common Christmastime mishaps.

Are you insured for common holiday home risks?

Electrical Fires from Light Displays
Christmas decorations are stunning, but if they’re not done right and monitored carefully, they can end up putting your homeowner’s insurance coverage to the test.

We all love a house and front yard covered in lights, but it’s best to never to leave your lights on when you’re not home. The enjoyment your neighbors and those walking by may receive from your unmonitored outdoor light display is not worth the cost of an electrical fire.

For your outdoor and indoor light displays, be careful not to overload your outlets. This could also start a fire – especially when your lights are wrapped around a dead tree in your living room. According to the National Fire Protection Association, 44% of Christmas tree fires are caused by electrical distribution or lighting equipment.

Fireplace-Related Fires
Perhaps it’s all of those chestnuts you’re roasting over the open fire, but fireplace-related fires skyrocket every December, according to the NFPA. Often, it’s from candles on the mantle, not necessarily the fireplace.

Either way, the best way to avoid fireplace-related fires is to use fewer decorations around flames. Give you candles and your fireplace plenty of breathing room from stocking, garland and boughs of holly.

Stolen Christmas Presents
Robberies go way up during the holidays because thieves know they can get their hands on some brand-new tech toys and whatnot via your Christmas gift stash. Basic homeowner’s insurance covers personal contents, which means most items stolen from your home would be insured. If you have valuables that you’d like to insure, you may want to consider Valuable Items Insurance.

What if an item is stolen from your car? More often than not, thieves will break into a vehicle before they rob your home, so you need to know if your home insurance policy will cover those pricey Christmas presents that never made it home. In certain cases, Penny Insurance will cover a percentage of the cost of items stolen from your car under your home insurance policy.

Certain factors – such as whether or not you locked your car – will be used to determine what percentage of the stolen items insurance will cover. One of our insurance representatives would be happy to talk with you more about specifics. In the meantime, keep your car locked, and valuables out of sight.

Slips and Falls on Your Property
What if the Amazon delivery person slips on a patch of ice in your driveway and experiences a serious injury? Most homeowner insurance policies cover liability insurance, which means you would not be liable for medical bills. However, most policies have a threshold amount that they would cover in case of a lawsuit. If you’d rather not risk hitting that threshold, you can pay a little more for umbrella liability protection which goes into effect when your liability coverage meets its threshold.

Good Tidings of Great Home Insurance

The holidays are busy, and we know contemplating home insurance is probably not number one on your to-do list. That’s why, as a smaller independent insurance agency, we won’t waste your time bouncing you around from person to person. We’ll answer your insurance questions just the way you ask them – directly, to the point, and always with your best interests at heart.

Open Enrollment 2020: How to Prepare for 2021

Open Enrollment 2020: How to Prepare for 2021

It’s hard to believe we’re already closing in on the holidays. Thanksgiving is fast-approaching, and Christmas isn’t far behind. But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s not forget what season is currently upon us – open enrollment!

We know, you already have more than enough on your plate right now (especially now that we just mentioned the holidays), and we hate to be the ones to add something else to your list, but open enrollment is an important time of year. The decisions you make between now and December 15th will affect you for the entirety of 2021, and we want to help you stay informed so that you can make the right insurance decisions for you and your family.

Dates and Deadlines for Health Insurance

When is it time to enroll?

The open enrollment period in North Carolina is the same every year. It begins November 1st and ends December 15th. Whatever insurance plan you enroll in during that time will go into effect on January 1st.

The open enrollment period was put in place to keep people from taking advantage of the system by signing up for health insurance right before undergoing a major procedure or immediately after finding out they need an expensive medication. Failing to enroll in health insurance coverage during the designated time means that you’ll be without health insurance for a year and be forced to wait for the next open enrollment period to get it.

There are, however, circumstances in which you can get insurance outside the open enrollment window.

Special Enrollment Period

What are the qualifications?

Some people qualify for a special enrollment period. Life events like losing other coverage, getting married, having a baby, or starting a new job typically make a person eligible for special enrollment. Additionally, those who qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) can also apply any time.

Since Penny Insurance Agency’s clients are all 65 years old or more, some of these life events are unlikely to occur in the next year. Insurance through Penny is a Medicare supplement. We do not offer Obamacare/ACA plans or under 65 health insurance.

Renewing vs. Shopping Around

What’s in my best interests?

You can count on your insurance costs going up from one year to the next, but don’t wait for your bill in January to find out just how much it increased. Ask your insurance company during open enrollment how much you’ll be paying for coverage next year, and if it’s a number you’re not happy with, you may want to shop around.

We get it – it’s so much easier to just renew your current plan, but if you can get better coverage that’s consolidated and managed by professionals who actually care about your needs, then isn’t a little insurance shopping worth it?

Open Enrollment with Penny Insurance Agency

How does it work?

The great thing about working with Penny Insurance is that you don’t have to know exactly what insurance plan you want. Leave it to our team to find a comprehensive coverage plan that makes sense for you, and then we’ll provide the most up-to-date facts so that you can make an informed decision.

As monotonous and mundane as open enrollment seems (especially next to all of your fun holiday plans), the great news is you do not have to tackle it alone. Our experienced and knowledgeable agents are ready to help you through the process.

Contact us today if you’re interested in speaking with a Penny Insurance Agency representative. Your protection is our priority.

For more information about open enrollment check out the Open Enrollment 2021 Guide from healthinsurance.org or one of our older posts titled, Open Enrollment: What You Really Need to Know.