You will probably consider many types of insurance through your life. Following the recent damage caused by Hurricane Harvey, many people are evaluating whether they need to purchase additional insurance. For instance, homeowners insurance does not cover flooding caused by storms. Homeowners concerned about future flooding at their homes, may choose to sign up for flood insurance as added protection.
The Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas offers the following tips:
What do you need? Insurance needs vary from person to person and family to family, so you need to find the company and policy that are right for you. The first step is determining how much coverage you need for the type of insurance you are considering.
Do your research. Ask friends and family for information on what insurance companies they use. Compare multiple companies to see what they offer and how much it costs. Check the insurance regulations of your state at the Texas Department of Insurance’s website: tdi.texas.gov. At that site, you may search company and insurance agent names to ensure they are properly licensed. Go to BBBHouston.org to see the business profiles with complaints and reviews for the businesses you are considering. Find out which companies are accredited.
Narrow it down to a few. From your research, choose three businesses and get quotes from them. Some websites will let you compare rates side-by-side. Remember that the lowest price may not be the best deal. See how different deductibles affect the price and decide what works for you. Make sure the final cost reflects the chosen amount of coverage and benefits. You should also consider the agency’s accessibility and the process for filing claims when making a decision.
Who will you buy from? Consumers can buy insurance directly from an insurance company or work with an agent. Agents can be captive or independent. Captive agents represent one specific insurance company. They will have an in-depth knowledge of that company’s products, but cannot help you with any other company’s offerings. Independent agents or brokers represent multiple insurance companies. They may be better able to find you the best policy from a range of companies, but may not have as much information on each product.
Ask about discounts. When looking for more than one type of insurance policy, ask if you can get a package to save money. Even when different types of insurance are sold together, make sure you understand all the details for each policy including premiums, deductibles, co-pays, and limits. You should also ask about discounts for good driving records, good health, good grades, or other factors related to the type of insurance you are buying.
Read carefully. An insurance policy is a legal document. Read it carefully. If there is anything confusing, have the agent or company explain it until you understand. Make sure there are no blanks left in the policy and save copies of all paperwork for future reference. After the insurance is purchased, review the policy annually to ensure everything is still accurate and the policy is continuing to provide the necessary coverage.
The Better Business Bureau is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews and BBB Wise Giving Reports to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. For information or to check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit www.bbbhouston.org, which includes our BBB Accredited Business Directory, or call 713-868-9500. Leah Napoliello is senior director of Investigative Services with the Better Business Bureau of Greater Houston and South Texas. Send questions regarding homeowner issues to Leah Napoliello, Better Business Bureau, 1333 West Loop South, Suite 1200, Houston, TX 77027, or e-mail her at email@example.com. Include mailing address and phone number on letters and emails.