July 2013 - Susman
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Is The Customer Really Always Right?

The person who came up with the saying that the customer is always right has obviously never worked in the insurance industry. Allow me to paint a small portrait for you. A young man, let’s call him Dave, purchases a new vehicle. He comes into the dealership to by that Corvette that he has always wanted. Dave is only 21, so how many of you know Dave was paying more for his auto insurance than he was his car note. Well, that is not what the story is about, so let’s get back to it.

He is NOT happy.
He is NOT happy.

Remember, Dave is only 21, not quite old enough to have graduated from college. Has anyone asked the question: How can Dave afford a Corvette? Last time I checked, the lower end models started out around $60, 000. Maybe you understand where I am going with this, if not, hold tight, I will get there momentarily.

Dave has to take out a full coverage comprehensive insurance policy. This is important to remember.

Seven months later, Dave, who is obviously no genius, finally does the math and realizes that he is paying twice as much for his car and insurance as he is for his apartment. He talks it over with his friend, let’s call him Evin, and the two of them decide that it would be cheaper to get a Camaro. The truth is Dave can’t afford that either, but that is not what this story is about, I digress yet again. Dave attempts to trade in his seven month old Corvette for a Camaro. Can anybody say “upside down”? By now Dave is becoming frustrated and desperation is beginning to set in. Finally the two geniuses decide that they will simply total out the car “accidently on purpose” and allow the insurance policy to pay for it. How many of you out there know this is highly illegal?

Obviously, Dave not only failed at math, but reading as well, because the policy clearly states what will happen if any fraudulent activity is detected; first thing would be denial of the claim. Dave calls his insurance agent to report the damage to the car. When the adjuster comes out the pieces of the puzzle just don’t seem to fit together. Not only can’t Dave add or read, he obviously sucks at lying as well. Final disposition: Claim denied! Only it’s not over, not from where Dave is standing. The insurance adjuster is screwing up a perfectly good (did I mention illegal) plan. Dave is not having it. So, he calls his agent to complain. As nicely as possible, Dave’s agent explains the details of the case and implies that Dave might want to go sit down somewhere and be grateful that the police were not brought into the matter.

We have already ascertained that Dave is not the brightest light in the room, he doesn’t get the hint. What does Dave do next? He asks Evin for more advice. Evin says call her supervisor, no, call the company president. Really Evin? Has Evin ever heard of the word accomplice? I don’t need to tell you what happens to those two geniuses, but it definitely makes my point that the customer is not always right. I am starting to believe that someone in Dave’s family history coined that phrase.

Hail Damage is Enough to Make Anyone Thankful for Insurance

The weather report said severe thunderstorms. Okay, I can handle that. No need to crowd into the tub with a mattress over our head. Twenty minutes later, we cowered away from the windows as golf-ball sized hail rained over our little house.

It was one of those moments when you say, “Oooh, are we glad we have insurance!” We submitted claims through both our auto insurance company and home insurance company, as the hail had damaged all three vehicles and both roofs (house and garage).

Yes hail gets this big and bigger!
Yes hail gets this big and bigger!

The estimated damage to our vehicle was a couple thousand dollars and the verdict is still out on our roofs, but so far the tally is well over $2,500. To say that we were extremely relieved to have insurance is an understatement. With four children, the van has become a necessity, and to have it out of commission does not bode well for my sanity. We are planning on selling the house within a couple years and a brand new roof will really help.

Paying insurance premiums can feel frustrating sometimes, and believe me, I have been tempted to reduce or cancel ours many times. When you are staring at your budget and numbers are not quite fitting how you imagined, you start getting really crazy ideas of how you can trim it down to size. Trust me, insurance is not the way to go.

Suffice it to say, I don’t have an extra four or five grand laying around, waiting for a sunny day. Or should that be, a hail-y day. Each month, we pay our house insurance right with our mortgage payment. Honestly, it doesn’t even feel like we are paying it, as we have escrow set up and just have to make one monthly payment to the mortgage company.

Our vehicle insurance is set up to be directly debited from our account, and again, no biggy (as long as I remember to subtract it in our register). So with these two premiums taken care of automatically, it was an even bigger and nicer surprise when they actually paid off.

Some people feel like insurance is a bit of a gamble; sure, it’s nice if you need it, but if you never need it, then it’s a waste. Well, that’s why we have it. It’s for those times in life that we could never have foreseen and are now facing possible emotional and financial ruin. Just imagine how stressed out I would be if I were trying to scramble up money to pay for a damaged vehicle and a damaged roof.

I know some people who choose not to fix their vehicle because of a few dents from hail. That’s all fine and dandy, but if you don’t fix your roof, it can start leaking. It doesn’t take much to rot out your wood and start dripping on your head.

Just don’t be like our neighbor. One of his summer projects was re-roofing his house. He spent the time and money to get it done, and three weeks later, hail destroyed it. Just think if he would have waited just a few more months. I hope your story ends up more like mine!

A Picture for the Future

Jennifer walked into her best friend’s kitchen and stopped. “Carrie, what are you doing?”

Snap. Snap. “I’m taking pictures,” she replied.

“I can see that. Why are you taking pictures of your jewelry?”

“Oh, I’m taking pictures of everything. I’m backing up my computer and all my financial records too.”

“Obsessed much?” Jennifer said laughing. She grabbed a mug of coffee and sat at the table. “So, spill. Why are you taking pictures and backing everything up.”

Carrie handed her a cookie and sat down with her own cup of coffee. “Well, I just got an insurance rider for this jewelry and Doug’s collection of Civil War Memorabilia. I want to document all of our important items and even the not so important ones, like the televisions and the computer itself. I’m saving it all to a flash drive and locking in my fireproof/waterproof safe. It’s for my homeowners insurance.”

“Yep, you’re obsessed. I can’t imagine an agent told you to do that.”

“No, but he said it was a good idea. It’s important to document the serial numbers so in the event of a tragedy they can be more easily replaced, except for the jewelry and the collection of course. How will they know exactly what you have if you don’t have a record of it to show them? It’s also helpful if you get robbed. You’ll have a list of the items taken for the police.”

“You’ve really given this a lot of thought haven’t you?”

“Of course I have. I worry all the time about the ‘what if’. What if something happens to your house? Don’t you have that collection of first edition books? Are they worth more than the standard replacement coverage you have for your belongings? You really should think about a separate rider for those you know.”

“I’m sure our coverage is just fine,” Jennifer assured her.

“Are you really? Have you read the policy?”

“No, why would I?”

“Jennifer, do you even know if you have coverage for the rising cost of building materials, or just the replacement value of your house when you bought it?

“Oh, I’m sure we do. I’ll ask Bob when he gets home.”

“I get a new copy of my policy every year and I read it to see if things are covered that we no longer have or need coverage for things that aren’t covered. You should do that too. Does Bob do that?”

“I don’t know,” Jennifer answered. “I should know it too though, in case something happens.”

“Now that’s a good idea. Oh, I need to get my grandmother’s recipes copied onto the computer so I don’t lose those either.”

Your valuables your treasure

You don’t have to be as obsessed as Carrie, but knowing what is covered and what is not is important. Ask your broker for a copy of your policy if you don’t have one. Changes may have been made you need to know about. Ask if you have enough coverage and how you can get extra if needed. You don’t want to find you’re underinsured when you are already stressed by events.

Help! I think I need health insurance!

If you are anything like me, you probably get a mean cold about 4 times a year. Last summer I had one heck of a cold. When it started out I thought that maybe it was just a bad case of cedar fever, something that is common in central Texas. I let it go for a week or two by just trying to suffer through it like the rest of the people around me. But my symptoms just kept getting worse. By the end of week two, I had a fever and my throat was closing up. Breathing was nearly impossible.

I of course was convinced I was dying. Looking up my symptoms online only helped to confirm the fact that I would soon meet my untimely death. It took my second day of being sent home early from work to remember my wonderful childhood ability of contracting strep throat. Yes, my old foe streptococcus had struck once again.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
An apple a day keeps the doctor away!

Like most of America due to the high price of health insurance I always thought, why bother? Suddenly that little cold that had been itching at the back of my throat all week was now possibly a contagious mess! If I had health insurance I could simply make an appointment with my doctor, get some penicillin and be on my merry way. Only now, I was forced to go to an emergency care clinic. I ultimately, had to wait twice as long to be seen and pay more than twice the price for my medication than I would have had to pay if I had health insurance.

So I took to my trusty friend, the internet, when I returned home and decided to see what my options were. I found a couple different companies online that looked promising and reached out to their agents. Unfortunately, I was considered part-time at my job so I didn’t qualify there. After communicating back and forth with one of the agents and doing some budgeting I was able to get on a health insurance plan. I had finally become and adult! Luckily I didn’t even have to dip into my savings or 401k to pay for it.

The best part of this story is that this year when the old cedar fever was making its way back into our fine state, I was armed with insurance. I went straight into my doctor’s office and got a prescription for allergy medication. It also felt great to have the opportunity to thank him for helping to keep me away from Death’s door. I have also gained a newfound love for being insured. I discovered that my car insurance company offers discounts for bundling! I actually save on my car insurance by having renter’s insurance as well. The renter’s insurance actually pays for itself! If my apartment complex burns to the ground in a wild fire my beanie baby collection can be replaced!

I hope my story of near death and high prices for being uninsured has helped to inspire you to look into health insurance. If not don’t worry, the government is going to make sure you have some before this time next year.

Take a photo with your phone if you are in a car accident

In the old days, a car accident often came down to your word against the other driver’s, unless of course, you had a credible witness or a camera. Of course, if you could talk the other driver into waiting around for half an hour while you run home to get your camera and come back to take the pictures that prove that the whole thing was his fault, you would be fine, too. Nowadays, things are quite a bit easier.

Just about everybody carries a cell phone these days, and just about every cell phone has a camera.This is great news, since the National Association of Insurance Commissioners recommends in their consumers guide that one of the first things you should do when you’re involved in an accident is to take a picture of the accident scene. Obviously, with a cell phone, that’s pretty easy. If you’re really good, you can take a picture and text it to your insurance agent instantly. Even if your tech savvy is limited to taking the picture and having your kid print it when you get home, using your phone to take a photo when you’re in a car accident is always a good idea.

An Irresistible Sales Pitch

Getting the Right Perspective

One of the most difficult things to deal with when you are young is to understand that you are not immortal. Being healthy and fit with seemingly an endless number of years in front of you, the ideas of death and old age are difficult to contemplate. Accidents are things that happen to others and the idea of growing old is something your parents do.

This difficulty of having a long-term perspective helps to explain the paradox concerning life insurance. Surveys consistently show that individuals understand and accept the wisdom of buying adequate levels of insurance, whether whole life or term insurance. The problem is that most people are underinsured, especially young families. Closing the gap between need and perspective is the challenge of most insurance salesmen.

The Experienced Salesman

When I was much younger and we had our first child, an article in some magazine spurred me to check out the insurance market. The article convinced me that I needed some coverage, and it touted the benefits of a new concept, universal life. It seemed the prudent thing to do, so I looked up several of the major companies and called for information.

Of course, my inquiries identified me as a hot prospect and I was soon deluged with calls and follow-ups from eager salesmen. This activity resulted in several scheduled meetings to review the various options and offerings of the companies. By and large the process was productive and quickly made me semi-literate about insurance and the various options and costs to protect my young family.

To this day, however, I remember one salesman in particular. This man was, in fact, the quintessential sales professional. It was evident that he loved what he did, believed in his product, and was very practiced in the art of closing the deal. I narrowed my choices down to a universal life policy with him or a larger term insurance policy from a competitor. The monthly commitment was pretty much the same but the agent with the term policy offered more coverage.

After much thought and discussion with my wife, who liked the term insurance agent better, I decided on that policy. When I called the more experienced and polished salesman to let him know our decision, he took the call in a professional way but insisted that I allow him to visit with me one more time. Being young and without having had time to develop a real resistance to professional sales techniques, I agreed to him coming by one more time.

The Closing Pitch

When the salesman stopped by later in the week, he spent some time trying to resell me on the benefits of universal life versus term life insurance. He was persuasive, but I stood my ground. At last, seeing that I was not going to be swayed, he pulled out a single sheet of paper and slid it across to me, asking me to sign it as a favor to him.

He then explained that he liked to keep a file of those who failed to buy insurance from him. Then, when someone died, which, he explained, happens all too frequently, he can go to the widow and escape blame for a lack of coverage, for the sheet of paper explains that I had simply refused to listen to the importance of buying from him.

I signed the paper, although my wife was aghast at the idea. To this day, I remember that as one of the more interesting closing techniques I have ever encountered.

Home Insurance, Auto Insurance, and Life Insurance A Good Investment

We all need home insurance to cover our home from loss and damage. Sometimes, we need this insurance because minor events occur that might be funny if they happened to someone else. There is a severe storm and the power goes out for several days. You lose all the expensive meat and poultry you have in your refrigerator. The worst part is that you were preparing to have 25 people for the holidays. You need to hire an electrician to connect the electricity to your house because the line broke during the storm.

The good news is that your home insurance policy covers the problem. Due to the situation your family decided to go out to dinner so you don’t have to cook and everyone pays dutch treat. This is just one reason why homeowners insurance can be an asset. Perhaps, something was stolen of lost from your home of sentimental value like jewelry or collectibles. A family member is distraught over the loss because they don’t think they will find a replacement.

The home insurance policy often does cover these losses Your son thinks his favorite baseball card collection was stolen. You go to a baseball card show with your son and find the same series. This card collection is in better condition than the one that disappeared. This is one reason why home owners insurance can save the day.

Car insurance is another necessity. When you have an accident it covers damage to the car and the other passengers. It also covers the other vehicle and those in it. Let’s take a less serious situation, you own a sports car that your son or daughter likes to drive. It is the classic red Corvette sports car. When driving it skids off the road and hits the guard rail leaving a dent and scratch on your pristine mint car.

They come home looking down at the ground waiting for you to ground him for one week. You call the insurance company and find they can fix it the next day. Your rates are not increased and your kids learn a lesson. The lesson is to drive more carefully. This is the reason car insurance is a must for everyone even younger high school and college students driving. Driving around a car with a dented door or crumpled fender looks tacky. It’s better to get it fixed.

Many families are under insured in the event of premature death. Funeral expenses are high and often families do not have the money to cover the costs. Insuring your family wife, husband, and kids protects them. When you take out a life insurance policy for your family, in your twenties and thirties, and even forties some people might think you’re planning a murder. Don’t let the gossip stop you, because you are protecting your family from unexpected loss.

Home insurance, auto insurance, and life insurance are just a few of the types of insurance you need.

When An Indoor Pool Suggestion Fails, Get The Next Best Thing And Purchase Flood Insurance

The weatherman forecasts torrential rains to hit your area for the next two weeks. While the river waters behind your house rise and your cell phone makes loud, high-pitched beeping noises from the National Weather Service concerning the flood watches in your area, your spouse asks about what you plan to do to protect the house from the inevitable flooding.

This is your time to shine with a brilliant idea. You unfurl blueprints of the construction of an indoor pool located right in the middle of your living room. You proudly display how all that free flood water will be channeled into the pool through carefully constructed channels in those areas where you believe the water will try to enter the house. When the flood waters begin to fall, you’ll have a great indoor pool to relax in during the summer and an indoor skating rink in the winter.

You begin to reconsider the idea when your spouse smacks you up along the side of your head. She brings up some very valid points about how much it would cost to tear out the flooring to create the pool area, how much it would cost to build the channels, and the likelihood that anyone swimming in the extremely dirty flood water could potential get a deadly bacteria infection and die.

She hands you the cell phone and the business card for your insurance agent. What a great idea to ask him for his opinion about an indoor pool and skating rink!

Unfortunately, your agent agrees with your wife. The best way to deal with rising flood water is to ensure that you have the appropriate flood insurance.

Flood insurance isn’t normally included in a standard policy, and you need to ensure that the amount of flood insurance you do get covers your house and the possessions. The amount of information you didn’t know about flood insurance is staggering. But your agent is there to answer all the questions you have about the total policy amount you can get to cover your home and the amount you can get for your possessions. You decide to purchase a flood insurance policy immediately.

You hang up the phone and explain to your spouse about everything the agent talked about, as she breathes a sigh of relief. You go to put your tools away and protect some of the more important items in your home from the rising flood waters as you put away your worries about the damage that may be caused. You have the right flood insurance policy for your home.

Now, the only thing left to do is to convince your wife about building a barbecue into the trunk of your car for tailgating parties. As you begin to pull out a second set of blueprints, she tells you to call back the insurance agent concerning any other changes you want to make to the house, car, or other belongings you own. That is a very smart idea as you pick up the phone and begin to dial your agent’s number again.

It can happen to you

There is nothing funny about hearing a scream and watching helplessly as grandma takes a tumble down a flight of stairs in your house. It is even less funny when she breaks her hip and decides to sue you for her medical bills, pain and suffering and diminished ability to pursue her passion of ballroom dancing. While you may be a little angry that grandma decided to sue you, fortunately, your homeowners insurance policy will protect you against liability when someone gets hurt inside your home.

When you purchase a standard home policy from your insurance agent, you get coverage for your dwelling. You also get coverage for the contents or your personal property inside of your dwelling and protection for accidents or incidents that might result in personal liability.

Now, the example of grandma falling down the stairs and breaking her hip might be an unlikely scenario, but there are plenty of other things that do happen that are strange and even a bit humorous, that happen every day. Think about some of the really funny things that happen around the house that will be covered by your homeowners policy.

You can file a claim if your 300 pound friend brings her five year old daughter over to your house to play with your five year old son and has a little accident while on your property. Suppose the children are out in the backyard playing on the swings and having a grand old time. At some point, you and your friend go out to see how the children are getting along, and your big friend decides she wants to get on the swing. As she hoists her hefty frame onto the swing, you wonder if the A-frame is strong enough to hold her. A few seconds later, you know the answer as the swing breaks and she falls flat on her butt. Who wouldn’t find that just a little funny? You might even break out into hysterical laughter. Your home insurance policy will help your friend pay for any injuries she suffered but will not pay any price for her to get over her embarrassment or loss of dignity.

You can file a claim if you accidentally do something in your house that causes some serious damage. Under your contents coverage of your home policy, you are covered for acts that are not malicious or intentional, but cause some types of damage. If you fancy yourself something of a handyman and cause a small leak from your washing machine to turn into a gushing river of water, you will be covered if the water floods your living room and ruins your wall-to-wall carpeting. These are the kind of things that happen every day and not just on TV shows like the old I Love Lucy episodes.

When you suffer a loss to your home or are liable for a loss suffered by somebody else, it is not funny to you, at least while it is happening. Fortunately, home insurance is there to protect people from the funny things they sometimes do.

Life Insurance Is Important — Really!

Life insurance is not something you should assume you don’t need. Tragedies strike every day, and we need to be prepared for it. If something happened to you,what would your family do? Could they afford their home? Could your kids go to college? Would your spouse have to work? These are all reasons to get life insurance.

Or maybe you know all this, but don’t think you can get life insurance. Maybe you have a condition that you think would keep you from getting it. Well, that’s not the case. Whether you are in renal failure, tore your rotator cuff pitching baseballs or have reactive attachment disorder, you can get life insurance. Restless legs syndrome? We got you covered. Even if your ringworm is making you itch, the idea of getting life insurance shouldn’t make you twitch. You can insure yourself and protect your family.

So, don’t delay. Contact an insurance agent and get the coverage you need so your family can go on without you if they have to.

In perfect health or not we can get you life insurance
In perfect health or not we can get you life insurance