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How to Shop for Personal Lines Insurance [5 Insider Tips]

shopping for personal lines insuranceSTEPHANIE WENZ
HNI Account Manager

It's renewal time for your personal lines insurance for auto and home. Maybe you received a letter or phone call from your agent suggesting a review. Maybe you received nothing except a renewal notice from your carrier that included a rate increase with no explanation. You're faced with the decision to stay with your current carrier or shop around for quotes.

Here are five great tips to make shopping your personal lines insurance a breeze:

1.) Know the difference between a direct writer and an independent agent

Direct writing companies (AllState, Farmers, State Farm, American Family) only have one option to place your insurance — with their own company. Insurance is not one size fits all. Independent agents are experts that strategically create a plan that is tailored to suit the individual needs of the client. Should a renewal rate increase occur, an independent agent will shop your policy for you. When it comes to carriers, independent agents have options! (For the record, your HNI agent is independent and eager to find you great insurance for a great value.)

2.) Research the insurance company

Whether you're purchasing a policy through a direct writer or an independent agent, you should check the A.M. Best rating of the carrier. You want to be sure your new insurance company has a superior financial strength rating. A good financial strength rating means the company isn’t going anywhere and you can have peace of mind about the premium you’re paying. Take it from me, a gal who’s been in insurance for a while: A.M. Best is a great resource for customers who want to make informed decisions.

3.) Know what you're buying

This is where the importance of having a knowledgeable agent comes in. Find someone you like who also is experienced, honest, and easy to work with. A good agent will make sure that your property and liability exposures are covered. If your agent doesn't do a good job of taking away all your worry and concerns, he or she may not be the right agent for you.

4.) Expect excellent customer service

Oftentimes, it's not just the agent you're working with. The need to work with other agency staff or company representatives may arise. You want to be sure that the agency or company you choose to do business with has a strong focus on delivering excellent customer service to its clients. You deserve the best. Make sure you get it.

5.) Don't make a decision based solely on premium

There will always be someone claiming he can save you money. Making a decision based only on cost is dangerous, because often less premium means less coverage. Look closely at the policy and compare coverage limits, deductibles, and exclusions. Making a decision to save a little money now could be expensive later, should a claim be filed and you find that your policy doesn't provide adequate coverage.

Don't get stuck with an agent or policy that's not right for you. Seek an agency you can make a long-lasting, personal connection with.

Get a free assessment of your personal lines coverage

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Photo by Jaro Larno via Flickr