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.

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.

Protecting and Preparing Your Home During Hurricane Season

Protecting and Preparing Your Home During Hurricane Season

Hurricanes destroy countless homes each year and unfortunately, it is not a matter of if they occur, it is when they occur. If you live near the coast, or own a coastal rental or vacation home, having the right storm coverage is absolutely essential. Storms can be unpredictable– easily tearing down houses and causing overwhelming damage. Most typical home insurance policies do not cover flood or windstorm insurance, so it’s crucial to confirm that you have sufficient coverage before the storm hits.

While in most scenarios, storm damage is out of your control, there are some things you can do to prepare your home for hurricane season. 

Plan Ahead

Have a plan in place, so that when a storm is on the horizon, you’re not frantic and can put the plan into action immediately. Determine a central meeting spot for your family so everyone knows where to go and what to do in an emergency situation. Plan out your evacuation route– where you will go for a safe destination during the storm, and make a checklist of all the necessary preparations that need to be made before you evacuate. With a plan already in place, you can take quick action and limit stress. If you do not have a hurricane plan, check out this helpful checklist: https://www.ready.gov/plan.

Confirm Your Insurance Coverage 

The last thing you want to be doing in the event of a severe storm is wondering if you have the right coverage for your home and possessions. Confirm your insurance coverage ahead of time, so you can focus on evacuating and keeping your family safe during a storm. Most home insurance policies do not cover flooding damage or windstorm damage– two weather occurrences that go hand-in-hand with hurricanes. If you already know that your home is in a floodplain or the area is prone to flooding, do not wait to get flood insurance. If there are trees surrounding your home, you could be at risk for windstorm damage to your roof. Call before it’s too late. Our agents are here to provide you with coverage and peace of mind. 

Inspect Your Home

Thoroughly inspect your home for areas of potential damage before a storm hits. While homeowners can usually detect possible problem areas, it is always a good idea to schedule appointments with professional inspectors to get an expert’s perspective. Check for low-hanging branches and trees that could come crashing down, check your roof for any weak spots, and check that your hurricane shutters are industry-approved and in working condition. 

Prep Your Home 

Lastly, if there is a hurricane warning or a storm approaching your area, be sure to properly prepare your home. If you have a generator, make sure it is in working condition and can switch on in the event of a power outage. Make sure there are no loose items in the yard like bikes or furniture that could fly around and break a window. Check all of your window seals, door locks, roof shingles…etc. to be sure that your house is in its best condition to weather the storm. Write a checklist ahead of time so you don’t have to frantically stress about making sure everything is done, and also so you know that you’ve done everything you can to prepare. Finally, make sure you have a “survival kit” with first aid items, food items, flashlights and more, so you can focus on keeping yourself and your loved ones safe. 

If you’re unsure of what your current insurance policies cover, or would like to know more about hurricane coverage, give our agents a call. We are here to help and provide a peace of mind. 

Sources:

https://pennyinsuranceagency.com/blog/2017/10/17/1914/

https://www.puresituationroom.com/

https://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/facts-statistics-hurricanes#:~:text=Major%20hurricanes%20are%20defined%20as,more%20active%20Atlantic%20hurricane%20seasons.

Homeowners Insurance During COVID-19

Homeowners Insurance During COVID-19

As people in our local communities and beyond spend more time at home due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, it may be a good time to review your current home insurance policies and assess your coverage. At Penny Insurance, we believe that every homeowner or renter deserves to be matched to the right policy. We take the time to get to know you, the area you live in, and understand the unique risks that your property is exposed to. We offer customized policies for Homeowners, High Value Homeowners, Renters, Condominium, Vacation/Seasonal Homeowners, Vacant Home Insurance, and Rental Property Insurance.

Homeowners or Renters Insurance
With our traditional Homeowners Insurance, common risks such as the physical structure of your home, replacement cost, personal contents, additional structures on your property, any additional living expenses, and personal liabilities risks are covered. Our agents always strive to go above and beyond for our clients, and we also offer coverage for unique valuable items and collectibles, flood, earthquake, and umbrella policies. Penny Insurance proudly serves all of Western North Carolina as well as Tryon, Cliffs Communities and the Upstate of South Carolina area, and are licensed in both Georgia and Florida. Our professional personal insurance specialists can review your current policies today and provide you with a free quote for homeowners insurance. We know it’s more than a house, it’s a home.

Umbrella Insurance
Another important policy to consider during this time is personal liability insurance (umbrella policy). Many people are currently working from home and have family members, children, and pets at home for extended periods of time. Having an umbrella policy protects you from legal costs if you or a family member damages someone else’s property, causes harm or injury, or if someone is injured while on your property. This type of policy is especially important to consider for homeowners with children or pets, as you become responsible for any damages they may cause.

Rental Property Insurance
If your rental properties have been affected by travel restrictions due to COVID-19, contact us directly to see how we can help. We offer solutions for those in need of Condominium coverage, Vacation/Seasonal Homeowners, Vacant Home Insurance, and Rental Properties and our agents will work with you so you have the coverage you need.

Payment Relief
Depending on your situation and the company your insurance is provided by, there may be relief available if you’re facing financial hardships due to COVID-19 and are unable to make mortgage or rent payments. Many of the companies we work with are extending payment deadlines and will work with you and your situation. Our agents are here to help with any questions you may have. In uncertain times, it is important to know that the place you call home is covered. We understand the investment you’ve made in your home, and we are here to protect it. At Penny Insurance, we want to give you a peace of mind as your insurance provider, even in the midst of a crisis.

Source:https://www.policygenius.com/homeowners-insurance/homeowners-insurance-and-coronavirus-covid-19/#how-the-coronavirus-could-affect-your-homeowners-insurance-coverage