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11 Questions To Ask When Reviewing Your Home & Auto Insurance

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When you get your home and auto insurance renewal in the mail, instead of throwing it away, ask these 11 questions.

Home Insurance Renewal Questions

  1. How was the replacement cost calculated on your current homeowners policy?
  2. When was the last time a replacement cost analysis was performed on your home?
  3. Is your home is insured for replacement cost or actual cash value?
  4. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety reported that the average claim for drain system failure, which isn’t covered on a standard insurance policy, is $4,400 after the deductible was paid. Keep in mind this was over the entire U.S. where the average home price is around $275,000 and this includes home with unfinished basements. There’s an additional coverage that you can add on to your homeowners policy called water backup for little investment. On your current homeowners insurance policy, is there coverage for water backup and how much does it cover you for?
  5. On your current homeowners insurance coverage, what is the scheduled limit for personal property? Do you have any items in your house, like jewelry, art, collections, cameras, etc… above that limit? Are those items scheduled separately on your policy?
  6. We find that many homeowners are not taking advantage of discounts they’re eligible for. It’s important to ask if you’re taking advantage of any and all discounts you’re eligible for.

Auto Insurance Renewal Questions

  1. How did you calculate your current liability limits?
  2. Do you have Underinsured and Uninsured Motorists coverage, if so, how much?
  3. Do you have a current umbrella policy? If so, how was the amount determined and when was the last time this amount was reviewed?
  4. What is the A.M. Best Rating of your current carrier?
  5. When was the last time you looked for alternative quotes and how has your credit rating changed since then?

While by no means will this get 100% of the information, knowing the answer to these questions allows you to better understand your own homeowners insurance and car insurance policies. Giving you the ability to uncover any gaps in coverage you need to eliminate.

If you’d like a free insurance review, from one of our personal insurance specialists at Weiss Insurance Agencies, complete the quote form on our home insurance page.

How To Winterize Your Home

How to Winterize Your Home: 8 Step Checklist

By | Home Insurance | No Comments

Want to discover how to winterize your home?

In Illinois and throughout the Midwest, there’s only a few weekends left to prepare for the Winter ahead.

While it’s not necessarily exciting to think about the winter ahead, it’s smart to prepare for it. Small actions will save yourself a lot of time and money in the future, especially in home insurance premiums. .

Here’s a checklist you can use this fall, to protect your home this winter.

How to Winterize Your Home: 8-Step Checklist

  1. Clean Your Gutters – Although a tedious job, cleaning your gutters is important. In the winter, a clean gutter allows water to flow off your roof and to the ground, where you want it.
  2. Seal Leaks – Walk around your home on a windy day listening for cracks. If you can hear wind seeping through, that’s warm air in the winter going out. Common leakages occur around your doors, windows, lighting, and electrical outlets.
  3. Get Your Furnace Cleaned  – I’ve always found coupons in the mail to get this done by a professional for around $75
  4. Trim Trees – Any branches which are loose and could potentially fall on your home, have trimmed. The weight of snow on top of these branches make them much more likely to fall on your home during the winter.
  5. Check Your Insulation – It’s recommended you have around 12 inches of insulation in your attic. If you fall short, add some of the extra to your attic.
  6. Buy Snow Shovels – You don’t want to be driving to Home Depot the night before a snowstorm looking for shovels, only to find they’re sold out. If you also use salt, now’s the time to stock up.
  7. Have Your Chimney Cleaned – If you have a chimney, now’s a perfect time to have it cleaned before your first fire.
  8. Get an Audit – Contact your local utility provider to find out if they offer free or discount home energy audits. Visit your city’s website or call your utility provider to find out if you’re city has such a program. And hurry up because a limited quantity is likely available.

Winterizing your home goes along way to preventing home insurance claims, and in the long run, lowering your home insurance premiums.

While the weather is still bearable, take the necessary steps to protect yourself in the winter months ahead.

Scams That Target The Affluent

Scams That Target The Affluent & How To Protect Against Them

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The Better Business Bureau has a unique tool called the Scam Tracker. It gives you a map view of identified scams in your area.

Searching the Chicagoland area, Scam Tracker identified 325 scams reported in 2016 alone (as of July 27th).

LexisNexis publishes a Ponzi Scheme Roundup MONTHLY.  In May of 2016, 8 new ponzi schemes were uncovered.

Scams impose exceptional risk to the affluent. With the most to lose, the affluent are targeted from a variety of people, in a variety of ways.

In this post, you’ll learn

  • 3 Groups Of Scammers That Target The Affluent
  • How to Protect Yourself, Family, & Net Worth from Common Scams

Related: Checklist: 7 Steps Increase Wealth Protection & Reduce the Cost of Your Personal Insurance Program

3 Scams That Target The Affluent

Russian hackers make for a great story. They’re mysterious. They install fear. There are dozens of movies with Russian hackers playing the protagonist.

There are no movies about a thief who acts as a gardener. A gardener who scams their client, isn’t front page news. The incident often doesn’t make the police reports, as it goes unreported out of embarrassment.

Ironically, it’s the gardener that should cause concern. Statistics show it’s the people you know, which are most likely to scam you.

When it comes to scammers trying to swindle the affluent out of their money, there are three common groups.

# 1 – Financial Advisers

Bernie Madoff famously stole over $20 billion for ultra high net worth clients through a Ponzi Scheme. The was just the tip of the iceberg into a dark industry, riddled with scams.

Locally, a Warrenville based securities firm was caught “cherry picking.” The  firm didn’t choose in advance whether they were trading personal funds or client funds. After the fact, they kept the winning trades for themselves and stuck the clients with the losing trades.

Ponzi Schemes and Cherry Picking are just one of the many financial scams the affluent are at risk of.

The term financial adviser encompasses a wide range of professions. Furthermore, the qualifications to call yourself a financial adviser are remarkably low.

Yet, it’s financial advisers that the affluent rely on to manage their assets. Often placing a lot of trust into someone they don’t know a lot about.

So what can you do?

A good first step of precaution is to check your broker’s or firms status with FINRA.

Second, consider “Maslow’s Hammer.” Famous psychologist Abraham Maslow brought us the phrase, “If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Applying this to investing, if an adviser only sells one solution, make sure that solution is in your best interest, not the advisers.

# 2 – Contractors

The affluent are often targeted by contractors and other professions such as landscapers.

Contractors work in or around the home and are frequently unsupervised. A few days of work and the contractor and any other employees or subcontractors may know:

  • Your schedule
  • Alarm codes
  • The location of valuables inside the home such as artwork and collectibles
  • The type of jewelry you and your family wears and the likely location of that jewelry

While most contractors are good, they suffer from a few bad apples. From abandoning projects before completion to performing shoddy work that doesn’t pass an inspection.

It’s important the affluent have a system in place for hiring all types of contractors.

Here’s what you can do:

  • Check ratings on sites such as Yelp, Google, and Angie’s List of any contractor. It’s easy to put up a website. It’s difficult to replicate reviews.
  • Ask your contractor if they run background checks on their employees and subcontractors.
  • Your down payment should be as little as you can negotiate. Never pay the entire balance upfront. California permits a maximum down payment of 10%. In Illinois, there’s no law. If California contractors can accept 10%, don’t  offer much more wiggle room when negotiation. 
  • Get a second opinion of any work that is added during the process.
  • Have a written contract before work begins.

 

# 3 – Domestic Employees

The third group that often targets the affluent in scams are domestic employees.

Example of domestic employees are:

  • Nannies
  • Housekeepers
  • Home health care workers
  • Tutors
  • Personal assistants

Like contractors, domestic workers often have unsupervised access to the home. They may have access to personal records, credit card statements, vacation schedules, alarm codes and more.

This leaves the affluent individual and family open to:

  • Property and identity theft
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Fraudulent sexual harassment, defamation, workers compensation and other lawsuits.

How to Protect Yourself, Family, & Net Worth from Common Scams

When it comes to guarding against scams, taking a proactive approach is difficult. You can do all the right things, yet still be blindsided by someone you trusted.

There is one strategy that has proven successful preventing scams, background screening. A professional background screening will reduce the chances of hiring or retaining someone with intent to scam.

Professional screening can include

  • Checking employment references
  • Educational and professional qualifications
  • Credit history
  • Driving record
  • Professional certification
  • Criminal record

Even so, background screening doesn’t end the risk of loss. Thus, it’s wise for the affluent to transfer these risks to a third party.

Yet, most insurance companies don’t offer coverage for these exposures.

But what’s at stake here is real. A fraudulent lawsuit from a domestic worker can cost mid six-figures. Resolving an identity theft can easily cost mid-five figures.

Fortunately, a handful of insurance carriers have policies and endorsements that can protect you. Insurers such as ACE, Chubb, and AIG, all three of which we represent at Weiss Insurance, offer extra coverage and optional endorsements to protect the affluent from these type of risks.

As an affluent individual, there’s no question you’re at greater risk of financial loss from scams. Similar to how you transferred the risk of your home to an insurance company, it’s transfer all risk that put you at risk. 

The cost in nominal but the threat is real.

Learn more about Weiss Insurance Agencies High Net Worth Insurance Services and inquire about a proposal.  

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How High Net Worth Individuals Overpay For Home & Auto Insurance

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Are you spending your hard-earned wealth wisely when it comes to home & auto insurance?

  • Why was it, that when wildfires hit an affluent area of Colorado,  64% of homeowners were under-insured by an average of $200,000?
  • Why did 81% of brokers agree that high net worth individuals make the same costly mistake?

ACE Private Risk Services®, a carrier who specializes in protecting the affluent, surveyed 600 of their agents.

Agents were asked about clients who were before insured with a standard insurance carrier. Asking if those clients were likely to be over-insured or under-insured in 21 different types of coverage.

For high net worth individuals, the results were not encouraging to their current way of buying insurance.

Not only are they under-insuring, they’re overpaying for that insurance.

But here’s what surprises most.

When switching to a high net worth carrier, 63% of agents were able to enhance coverage and keep premium increases to less than 5% for their clients.   In 50% of cases, the client actually saved money.

How?

There were 3 main coverage areas where high net worth individuals commonly overpaid.  Too, 7 other coverage areas stood out among the 600 agents as additional saving opportunities.

Here’s are the results from the study.

Interested in learning more about taking advantage of savings opportunities and strengthening your coverage? Weiss Insurance, Chicagoland’s trusted independent agent since 1905, recently released a downloadable checklist on 7 ways to increase wealth protection and reduce the cost of your personal insurance. Click here to download.

 

# 1 – Deductibles

The # 1 way affluent homeowners overpay for insurance is with their choice of deductible, which 81% of agents agreed on.

Ironically, I’ve seen many high net worth individuals carry deductibles of $250, $500, or even $1,000. Yet, when a small claim does occur they don’t file because they don’t want any claims impacting their  premium.

A philosophy we believe in at Weiss Insurance is insurance is for catastrophic events. If you can afford to self insure a risk, then do it.

The question to ask yourself is, “What amount could I pay for a loss, without significantly impacting my lifestyle and wealth?”

Once you have that number, ask your agent to estimate the premium savings with a range up deductibles up to your you maximum out-of-pocket amount.

 

# 2 – Package Discounts

62% Of agents agreed that package discounts were often missed among high value homeowners. It’s easy to see why. Auto insurance companies spend billions on advertising each year, promising one thing–savings. This leads to many high net worth families splitting their home and auto insurance among different insurers.

However, it’s important to keep an eye on overall insurance cost.

By combining your home and auto insurance, high value insurance companies offer discounts up to 10% or more.

Next, insuring your home with one company and cars with another increases the potential for gaps in coverage.

Additionally, by combining policies with one company who specializes in high net worth, a policy can be written as one package with common term dates and one consolidated bill, saving you time as well as money.

 

# 3 – Loss Prevention Credits

According to 50% of agents, high value homeowners with standard insurance companies often failed to apply basic credits to their home and auto policies.

When combined, the credits for various loss prevention systems, which often are the norm for high value homes and cars, can reduce homeowner premium by 30% or more.

Furthermore, having these loss prevention devices in place can often allow homeowners to raise their deductible. Potentially, by combining the two strategies homeowners can save up to 50%.

Below is a list of the common credits high value homeowners often miss:

 

Home Insurance Credits

  • Burglar alarms
  • Fire alarms and sprinkler systems
  • Electrical backup, lightning protection
  • Temperature monitoring
  • Water leak detection with auto valve cut-off
  • Gas leak detection

 

Auto Insurance Credits

  • Theft alarms
  • Fuel cut-off switches
  • Hood locks
  • Steering locks
  • Ignition cut-off switches
  • Location transponders

 

7 Additional Saving Opportunities For High Net Worth Individuals

While raising deductibles, applying package discounts, and taking advantage of safety credits were the three main areas where high value homeowners overpaid, there were an additional 7 saving opportunities that were often missed.

  1. Paying low collector car rates for a collector car – 31%
  2. New or rehabilitated home credit – 22%
  3. Storing infrequently worn jewelry in a bank vault – 20%
  4. Good student discount – 11%
  5. Credit rating – 10%
  6. Accident-free credit – 9%
  7. Accident prevention course credit – 9%

 

Interested in learning more about taking advantage of savings opportunities and strengthening your coverage? Weiss Insurance, Chicagoland’s trusted independent agent since 1905, recently released a downloadable checklist on 7 ways to increase wealth protection and reduce the cost of your personal insurance. Click here to download.

3 Car Insurance Discounts (1)

Senior Car Insurance Discounts

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Between the ages of 60-75 is statistically one of the safest years of your driving life.

You’re a good driver. You take pride in what you own. You’re kids are typically off your policy.

While some insurance companies recognize this and offer discounts and great rates to seniors. There are some insurance companies that charge higher rates to the same age group.

Another reason why seniors pay too much for car insurance is their loyalty. Out of any demographic, seniors are most likely to stay with one carrier.

While remaining loyal to an insurance company can be beneficial, it also has its downside. Small 5-7% increases year after year on your auto insurance, an increase about twice that of inflation, compound over the years.

The irony is that even though seniors shop their auto insurance the least, they’re most likely to benefit from doing so. Potentially saving hundreds of dollars.

As with any shopping experience, be it a new car, a new couch, or new car insurance…it’s important to get educated on how to do it right.

It’s possible for two people, with the exact same profile (same vehicles, driving record, credit score, etc…) to pay different rates for car insurance from the same company.

Why?

Because one person knew how to maximize the discounts.

According to CBSNews, only 16 percent of Americans have asked about common discounts.

Knowing the senior car insurance discounts is the # 1 way to saving money on car insurance.  In this blog post, you’ll learn the top 4 senior car insurance discounts you may be missing out on.

(RELATED: A Checklist of 17 Insurance Discounts Available for Home & Auto Insurance Buyers Over 60 Years of Age)

 

4 Senior Car Insurance Discounts

 

# 1 – No Commute or Reduction of Commute

If you’re no longer making the daily commute to work or have reduced your commute notify your agent of this change.

Auto insurance companies charge more for those who are commuting daily, especially if that commute is long.

 

# 2 – Mileage

When you talk to your agent about the change in your commute, also let your agent know the total amount of miles you now plan on driving per year.

If you were driving 15,000 miles a year but now only drive 5,000, you’re eligible for a cheaper auto insurance rate.

 

# 3 – AARP

Hartford has an exclusive agreement with AARP allowing members to receive significant discounts.

As a longtime representative of The Hartford, we are proud to be one of the few agents who offer this discount.

 

# 4 – Credit Score Change

Insurance companies offer much lower rates for those with a high credit score. As a retiree, there’s a good chance your credit score has improved since you lasted quoted your insurance.

 

Senior Car Insurance Discounts

 

If you’re over 60 years of age and want to save money on insurance, download our free checklist: 17 Insurance Discounts for Home & Auto Insurance Buyers Over 60 Years of Age.

This checklist, prepared by the experts at Weiss Insurance, Chicagoland’s trusted independent agent since 1905, will show you how to save up to 37% overnight on your insurance premiums.

How much can you save?

Find out now

Download the checklist now.

How To Get The Best Deal On Auto Insurance

By | Auto Insurance | No Comments

Woman Doing CalculationsAuto insurance is boring. So it’s easy to put off dealing with it.

Until it’s time to file a claim. Then it becomes the center of your attention.

When shopping for auto insurance, your goal is to find the best coverage, for the lowest price. Saving $10 a month now but being held liable for $100K+ in damages later isn’t wise.

How can you navigate the hundreds of options and fine print to find the best deal. Start by following these tips.

5 Tips To Get The Best Deal On Auto Insurance

# 1 – Understand Your Insurance Score

When shopping for the best deal, it’s important to understand your insurance score.

Your insurance score combines factors such as your credit score and driving record. The higher your score, the lower your rates.

You can estimate how your insurance score has fared since the last time you shopped insurance.

  • If your credit score has increased and driving record is clean, you’re likely to save.
  • If your credit score has declined and you have an accident on your record, it’s likely declined.

Why is this important?

You may be able to save yourself a lot of time. If your insurance score has increased, let your current insurance company know.

If you’re going to compare rates, make sure your current carrier is offering its best price.

# 2 – Is Your Rate Final?

It’s common for agents or websites to give you a teaser rate.

This is a rate based on simple criteria such as your:

  • Make
  • Model
  • Zip Code

Based on this information, you’re given a  low monthly rate. e.g. only $29 a month!

In fine print, you’ll see something like:

“All estimates are subject to change based on each carrier’s underwriting criteria.”

There’s a lot more that goes into a quote. Including your insurance score, which is heavily weighted.

# 3 – Bundle to Save

By combining your home/renters with auto, you’ll be eligible for a discount. This discount is often the largest available discount among insurers.

If your policies aren’t bundled, that’s the first place to start.

# 4 – Compare Deductible Options

It’s important to look at deductible options among many companies. The company with the lowest rate at one deductible, many not have the best rate at another deductible.

# 5 – Compare Payment Options

You want to find out exactly how much the policy will cost you over the next 6 to 12 months.

The payment plans and fees from one carrier to the next vary.

The best ways to pay are in full or by EFT. Carriers will often give a discount for these options.

If you choose to be billed each month, there’s likely a fee.

Know ahead of time how you will pay and what that payment plan will cost you.

2 Tips To Getting The Coverage

To get the best deal on auto insurance, you want the right coverage, at the lowest price.

The rates you see for $29 a month, they may lack coverage.

There’s a lot of fine print in your policy. While you will learn a lot by reading the entire contract, there’s two areas your must look at:

# 1 – Liability Insurance

If you’re at fault for an accident, would your liability limits protect you from paying out of pocket?

There are two kinds of liability coverage:

  • Bodily injury – Coverage for the people in the accident. Including medical costs, lost income, and pain and suffering.
  • Property Damage – Provides coverage for cars and property involved in accident.

There’s only so many $80,000+ cars on the road today. The chances of you hitting one are rare.

The real risk to your net worth is bodily injury. If you were to hurt someone in an accident, you’re liable for lost wages and medical bills of that person.

Those types of claims can climb past six figures fast. The thing is, they’re not that uncommon.

Your goal is to protect your assets. This includes your savings, home, and future earnings. You need to carry enough liability insurance to do just that.

This is often best done with higher limits, i.e. $500,000, plus an umbrella policy.

# 2 – Uninsured/UnderInsured Motorists Coverage

If hit by an uninsured driver, you’re left paying for the damage. With uninsured coverage, you’ll insurance will kick in. This includes coverage for damage and liability.

UnderInsured acts the same but instead protects from those who carry low limits.

The Insurance Research Council did a study that found 12.6% of drivers were uninsured. Then, you add in the drivers who carry low limits and this is a major risk drivers face.

You want this limit to match your liability limits. Often policies will have $100,000/$300,000 liability coverage but only $20,000 for Uninsured/UnderInsured Motorists.

How To Get The Best Deal On Auto Insurance

Now that you have a good idea of what to look for, you can start shopping.

To find the best deal on auto insurance, it’s important to compare at least 3 quotes.

This means comparing final rates, coverages,  and deductibles. A task that’s a bit more time consuming, than most advertising leads you to believe.

But after all, a lot is at stake, so it’s time well spent.

If you’re an Illinois resident, I invite you to contact us at Weiss Insurance Agencies for a free comparison.

As an independent agent, we have access over a dozen different top auto insurers. Our auto insurance experts will do the shopping and comparing for you. Learn more about how we make it easy to find the best deal on car insurance.

Liked this post? We published a similar post on comparing home insurance

Experts Agree: You Need This Type Of Home Insurance Coverage

By | Home Insurance | No Comments

Personal InsuranceBuying home insurance can be a daunting task.

Your home is likely your largest asset. Home insurance is the contract that protects that asset.

Until you need it, you may view home insurance just as another bill to pay or a contract to file.

But what’s in that contract is important.

The aftermath of homeowners whose homes were destroyed in a natural disaster are not pretty. In United Policyholders’ ‘2012 Colorado Wildfire One-Year Survey,  54 percent of survey respondents reported being underinsured on their dwelling by an average of $101,000.

There’s a reason why the top personal finance experts in the U.S. agree on one thing—you need to buy the right insurance to make sure your home can be fully rebuilt.

Here’s what the experts have to say:

  • Dave Ramsey – Check your homeowner’s policy to make sure you have guaranteed replacement cost insurance. Several years ago, a lot of the major insurance companies quit offering guaranteed replacement cost insurance—a policy in which your home is replaced no matter what it costs.
  • Suze Orman – However, the reality is that the majority of insurance policies sold by homeowner’s insurers today are “extended replacement” policies. These policies will only pay a specific percent above the dwelling limit shown on your policy. This percentage is often times just 20 percent. What this means to you is that your insurance company might not pay to fully rebuild your home, if you are underinsured and the home is destroyed.”
  • Clark Howard – Talk with agent or insurance company. See if you’re adequately insured. Insurers used to rebuild even if you didn’t have enough stated coverage, but that’s no longer the case. It’s up to you to stay on top of this.
  • Kiplinger’s – It’s a good idea to purchase guaranteed replacement coverage, meaning the insurer will pay whatever it costs to rebuild your home with materials of like kind and quality, without deducting for wear and tear. Avoid actual cash value coverage, which pays the depreciated value of your home’s components and could leave you short of the funds necessary to fully repair or rebuild your home.”

My Take

​In principle, I agree with the experts. The goal is to make sure your home will be fully rebuilt. This can be easily done with a guaranteed replacement cost policy.

Although, much has changed in a few short years from which some of the comments were made. As Dave Ramsey hinted upon in an article in 2011, less insurers are offering guaranteed replacement cost.

5 Years later guaranteed replacement cost is even more rare. Few companies offer it, and if they do, they charge a premium.

So how can you still make sure your home will be fully rebuilt, without overpaying for insurance?

The first step is to get an accurate replacement cost analysis on your home. A replacement cost analysis analyzes how much your home  cost to rebuilt.

Many home insurance agents quit offering new clients this service to their clients. This has left the majority of homeowners frighteningly underinsured.

As reported by Nationwide,

“About two out of every three homes in America are underinsured. The average underinsurance amount is about 22%, though some homes are underinsured by 60% or more.”

First things first, you need to get a replacement cost analysis done on your home. This is best done by a local home insurance agent.

Note: It’s easy to confuse market value for replacement cost. The market value of your home is how much someone is willing to pay. The replacement cost is how much it costs to rebuild. This amount can vary drastically, especially for new homeowners since lenders only require insurance for the market value. This protects them, not necessarily you.

Once you have an accurate replacement cost, get a policy that offers extended replacement cost.  Extended replacement cost offers extra protection over and above your policy amount.

Why do you need extended replacement cost?

  • Replacement cost estimators are not perfect. If off by just a few %, it could mean money out of your pocket.
  • When a natural disaster hits an area, building costs tend to skyrocket as cost of materials and cost of labor increase.

Say you have an accurate replacement cost done on your home, which comes out to $500,000. The $500,000 is the amount you insure your home for.

Then, buy a policy with at least 150% extended replacement cost. In the example, this gives you  $750,000 in total protection.

The key here is you have to first have an accurate replacement cost analysis done on your home. If you’re one of the 2/3 of homes are underinsured, you’re starting from a negative position and are likely at risk.

If you’re a Chicagoland resident, interested in getting a free replacement cost analysis performed on your home, contact the home insurance experts at Weiss Insurance today

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A New Way To Pay For Auto Insurance, Is Saving Chicagoland Drivers Up To 30% On Their Premiums

By | Auto Insurance | No Comments

Good Driver Discount If you’re looking to save money on auto insurance, there’s news you’ll be happy to hear.

A new mobile app can save Chicagoland drivers up to 30%. The app, launched by one of the nation’s largest auto insurers, was released exclusively to Illinois residents.

The mobile app monitors your driving habits and gives a score based on performance. The better you drive, the higher your score, and the more you’ll save with the good driver discount.

Here’s a breakdown of the potential savings, which starts the first day you enroll.

  • Save 10% – Save 10% today just by enrolling in the program.
  • Save 15% – Save an automatic 15% today by enrolling all drivers in your household to the policy.
  • Save up to 30% – Based on you and your family’s driving habits, you can qualify for a discount up to 30% at renewal.

Here’s how the savings would play out based on three common scenarios:

  • Young, Single Adult – Age 23: A 10% discount would be applied upfront and a potential 30% at renewal based on driving behavior.
  • Married Couple – Age 48 – Two Young Adults On Policy (Ages 17 and 22): A 15% discount would be applied upfront. Then, a potential 30% discount at renewal based on driving behavior.
  • Retired Husband & Wife – Age 62 – No Kids On Policy: A 15% discount would be applied upfront. Then, a potential 30% discount at renewal based on driving behavior.

How The App Works

Unlike other monitoring devices, there’s no connecting a device to your car. It’s all done through your mobile phone (apps are available for both iPhone and Android phones).

After binding your policy, you download an app on your smartphone, which you then turn on while driving.

You then get a score based on driving behavior. Your score is based on 6 factors:

  1. Heavy braking
  2. Smooth Driving
  3. Speed
  4. Mobile Distraction
  5. Time of Day
  6. Fatigue

The app allows you to turn on whether you’re a passenger or a driver, so your score isn’t harmed when a member of your family isn’t driving.

How Do You Apply?

Weiss Insurance Agencies, Chicagoland’s trusted independent agent since 1905, is one of the few agents with access to this new program.

We’ve set up a special page on our website, for Chicagoland drivers to apply at no cost. As always, there’s no obligation to purchase once we’ve sent you the quote.

In addition, as an independent agent, we have access to over 12 top Illinois auto insurance carriers. Beyond applying for the mobile app discount, we will also shop your auto insurance to our other companies to discover potential  saving opportunities.

It takes only a few minutes and the service is 100% free.

Act Now

Simply visit this link.

After you enter some basic information, one of our Chicagoland personal insurance advisers will reach out to you to gather the necessary information. (This program isn’t available via our online quote engine).

It’s so easy and quick to put money back into your pocket!

Click here to get started today.

How To Compare Home Insurance Policies in Illinois

By | Home Insurance | No Comments

How To Compare Home Insurance Policies in IllinoisIf you’re in the market for home insurance, odds are you’d like to “compare quotes.”

But what exactly should you compare?

Price is of course important. But there’s a lot more to home insurance than price.

You want insurance to make you whole again after a loss.  As you’ll discover, insurance policies are not always designed to do this.

The “fine print” in your policy can mean the difference between becoming whole or severe financial catastrophe.

There are 3 critical areas:

# 1 – Replacement Cost Estimate

Whenever there’s a natural disaster, it’s followed by stories of shocked homeowners wondering why their insurance company didn’t pay.

When wildfires destroyed Colorado homes, nearly 2/3 of homeowners were underinsured an average of $200,000. This according to a survey of United Policyholder, a consumer advocacy group.

There are two reasons homeowners often find themselves underinsured:

  1. It’s easy to confuse what you paid for your house, with what it costs to insure. Your mortgage company requires you to buy enough insurance to cover the mortgage. That’s it. But insurance is meant to insure the actual cost to rebuild your home–not it’s market value.
  2. The second reason homeowners find themselves underinsured is their agent didn’t perform a replacement cost analysis. A replacement cost analysis, will provide you an accurate estimate of how much it would take to rebuild your home.

The amount of money your home is insured for is listed under Coverage A of your policy.

If you want to properly protect your home, the first thing you must have is an accurate replacement cost. A good agent will run the numbers for you.

# 2 – Replacement Cost vs. Actual Cash Value

The first critical factor when comparing home insurance is to make sure you have the right Coverage A.

Once this number accurate, you next need to look at the type of coverage.

There are two types of coverage.

  1. Replacement Cost
  2. Actual Cash Value

Replacement cost coverage reimburses you for the cost to replace with like-kind and quality. There is no deduction for depreciation.

So, if you have $10,000 in damage to your roof, your insurance company will reimburse you $10,000 minus your deductible.

Next, there’s actual cash value. Actual cash value takes into account depreciation. So, if you have $10,000 in damage to your roof and your roof is 10 years old, you may only get a check for $5,000–minus your deductible.

That’s a big difference!

Stay with me here because this is where insurance companies tend to make things complicated.

Some insurance companies “carve out” different elements of your home and offer replacement cost on one and actual cash value on the other.

The two most popular “carve outs” are roofing and siding.

Next, understand your home insurance not only covers you home but what’s inside your home–your possessions.

So, if you want to be made whole again, you want replacement cost on not only your home but your contents as well.

There are two questions you must ask yourself:

  1. Does my home, which includes roof and siding, have replacement cost coverage?
  2. Are my contents covered for replacement cost or actual cash value?

# 3 – Water Back Up

Say water were to seep into your house via a backup of a sewer or drain.

Guess what?

This type of claim is excluded on a standard insurance policy. 

Most insurance policies add this coverage, known as sewer or water backup,  back to your policy. But it will have a separate limit. 

This limit is typically frighteningly low for most homeowners.

Typical limits average between $5,000 and $10,000.

If you have a finished basement, $5,000 may not even be enough to cover the fee for the removal of the dry wall. Let alone, reimburse you for damaged contents.

Keep in mind, sewer back up isn’t limited to homes with basements. Backup of drains can occur on any floor. Causing damage to areas in your home with the highest value per square foot.

So, when comparing home insurance quotes, it’s vital to review the fact that you have water back-up and the limit.

So, What’s Next? | How To Compare Home Insurance Policies

The goal when comparing home insurance quotes it to get properly insured, for the best possible price.

This is a lot easier said than done because as you now know, insurance policies are not all the same.

With so many variables in play, it helps to have an expert on your side. Someone to know what home insurance companies will protect you.

At Weiss Insurance Agencies, we’ve been protecting homeowners in the Chicagoland area since 1905.

Here’s what you’ll get by contacting our team of Chicagoland home insurance experts:

  • Get quotes from up to 14 top home insurance companies. Our independent status allows us to shop the market on your behalf. We do this at no cost or obligation.
  • Make sure you have the right coverage. We will review your policy for you and answer any questions you may have. This includes a comprehensive replacement cosy analysis.
  • Maximize your discounts. We will ask you the right questions, so you get the discounts most people miss out on.

To get started, visit our home insurance quote page. You’ll learn more about what Weiss Insurance can do for you, as well as 3 easy ways to contact one of our personal risk advisers to get started.

Last, I do want to thank you for your time for reading. You now know more than most about protecting your largest asset.

Best High Value Home Insurance Companies

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Best Illinois high value home insurance companies

If you drive a BMW, Mercedes, or Audi would you buy “Chevy” insurance?

Of course not.

If you live in a custom built home high value home, would you buy “manufactured” home insurance?

Again, of course not.

You want one of the best high value home insurance companies.

The goal of insurance is to protect yourself against financial catastrophe. In order to have this protection, you’ll need to find a company that can truly protect you. Furthermore, you’ll need to know how to compare for yourself two different insurance companies to determine the best fit for you.

As you’ll learn, there is no single best insurance company for every high value homeowner.  Instead, there’s one insurance company that’s best for you.

This is the third and final post in a series on high net worth home insurance. If you haven’t read posts # 1 and # 2, they lay the framework for allowing you to choose the best insurance company for you.

To wrap up this series, we will review the top high value home insurance companies and their coverage differences.

Here’s an overview:

  1. Part # 1: 6 Common home insurance mistakes high value homeowners make
  2. Part # 2: 3 Ways high value homeowners overpay for insurance
  3. Part # 3: Best high value home insurance companies

I wrote this guide to help high net worth homeowners like yourself make the best possible choice when it comes to personal insurance.

So next time you review your insurance, no matter who it’s with, you can make an informed intelligent decision.

Best High Value Home Insurance Companies

To make the best decision possible for the protection of one of your largest assets, it’s important you understand the coverage differences between two different insurance companies.

There are insurance companies that specialize in insuring main street America. Then, there are insurance companies that specialize in the affluent.

What is the difference?

There are many.

Below, you’ll see how typical, Standard “Main Street America” Insurance Companies compare to a High Value Home Insurance company.

# 1 – Risk Covered

  • Standard Insurance – You are only covered for loss or damage by specific causes, e.g. theft, fire, storm or water damage. If a cause is not explicitly listed – it’s not covered.
  • High Value Home Insurance – You are covered for loss or damage by any cause. Unless your policy specifically excludes something – you are covered.
  • Why does it matter? – When a loss does occur, you don’t have to go about “proving” the cause to the insurance company

# 2 – Extended Replacement Cost

  • Standard Insurance – Not offered
  • High Value Home Insurance – Guaranteed to repair building, no matter the final cost.
  • Why does it matter? – You won’t be left with $820,000 to rebuild a $1,000,000 home, as 67% of homeowners are underinsured by an average of 18%.

# 3  – Water/Sewer Back Up

  • Standard Insurance – Excluded or a limit of $5,000 additional added
  • High Value Home Insurance – Coverage up to Coverage A (the total amount your home is insured for)
  • Why does it matter? – You’ll have appropriate coverage for this common exclusion coverage at the time of claim.

# 4 – Claims Service

  • Standard Insurance – Little experience in protecting custom built homes
  • High Value Home Insurance – Expert claim service staff who deals exclusively with high value homeowners
  • Why does it matter? – You deal with someone who understands the process of replacing the valuable assets you own

# 5 – Contents Replacement Cost

  • Standard Insurance – Not offered
  • High Value Home Insurance – Offered
  • Why does it matter? – You’re reimbursed for what the contents cost to replace, not their depreciated value.

# 6 – Replacement Cost Cash Out Option

  • Standard Insurance – Not offered
  • High Value Home Insurance – Offered
  • Why does it matter? – If you suffer a total loss, you have the option to rebuild or take a cash payment up to the policy limit.

# 7 – Agreed Value

  • Standard Insurance – Regardless of any sums in your policy schedule, your payment for valuables will be based on the ‘trade price’ at the time of loss, less the deduction of an ‘excess’.
  • High Value Home Insurance – We agree with you at the outset the exact sum and in turn, the insurance company pays for all specified valuables.
  • Why does it matter? – There are no surprises or disagreements as to what something is worth

It’s easy to see the value between a a standard insurance company and the specialty high value home insurance companies.

The next step is to know the difference between two high value home insurance companies, which are more subtle. Just because an insurance company can insure your high value home, doesn’t mean it can protect you from financial catastrophe.

Best High Value Home Insurance Companies

When looking at the entire sector of insurance companies who write multi-million dollar homes, it’s best to categorize them into three different categories.

  • Class A+
  • Class A 
  • Class A-

One of the key themes of this article is there’s not one best high value home insurance company, instead there’s a company that’s best for you.

An affluent homeowner with a million dollar home and a $250,000 art collection, will need different coverage than an affluent homeowner with a million dollar home and no collection.

Another key theme of this series is the purpose of insurance–to protect you against financial catastrophe.

By knowing the goal, you can then determine your risks, which will allow you to determine the company that best protects those risks.

After reviewing the coverage options, you may find that a company like Hanover can properly protect you. While another high value homeowner may find only a company like Chubb or AIG can truly protect them.

Again, it all comes down to what’s unique about you and your situation.

Let’s first look at the best high value home insurance companies. Then we will review what’s different about them.

Class A+ | 

  • AIG Private Client Group
  • Chubb Insurance (Now owned by ACE. Will keep the Chubb name)

Class A  |

  • AIG Premier – AIG’s branch focused on mass affluent.
  • Crestbrook – Rebranding to Nationwide Private Client
  • Encompass Insurance  – Owned by Allstate

Class A- | 

  • Hanover Platinum Protect
  • MetLife Grand Protect

Comparing The Best High Value Home Insurance Companies

The 7 companies listed above all offer superior coverage than standard insurance companies.

But there is still quite a difference.

Here’s a breakdown of 4 of the most important coverage options high value homeowners should look for and how they compare:

Building Replacement Cost Coverage Contents Replacement Cost Cash Out Option Backup of Sewers or Drains
– Class A+
AIG Guaranteed replacement cost Included Yes Unlimited
Chubb Guaranteed replacement cost Included Yes Unlimited
– Class A
AIG Premier Extra 100% of the dwelling’s coverage limit Included No Starts at $25,000 with additional offerred
Crestbrook Guaranteed replacement cost Included Yes Unlimited
Encompass Deluxe Extra 200% percent of the dwelling’s coverage limit Included No Unlimited
– Class A-
Hanover Platinum Select Premium Extended dwelling replacement cost at 150% of coverage limit Included No Up to $25,000
MetLife Grand Protect Guaranteed replacement cost Included No Starts at $10,000

How to Properly Insure Your Home for the Best Possible Price

So insurance that acts as insurance should, costs more, right?

It depends…

Most insurance is sold today because someone saves money. Turn on the TV and you’re going to see a commercial from one of the large insurance companies who “guarantees to save you money.”

And high-value insurance is no different…it still saves you money. Just in a different way.

At first, if you’re moving from a standard home insurance policy, you can typically expect to pay 15% more upfront when switching to an affluent provider of insurance.

However, as you now know, you’re not paying for the same protection. Which is why a few dollars a day spread out over a year for not only better peace of mind but better insurance is a sound investment.

However, over a ten year period, the 15% more investment upfront usually ends up paying for itself many times over.

But what about saving money today, while still be properly insured. Can it be done?

For many, the surprising answer is still YES.

Believe it or not because of our unique process at Weiss Insurance, we’ve helped many clients increase their coverage, all while saving money.

Insurance protects the assets you’ve spent years building. It’s important you make an informed intelligent decision about your insurance protection with someone you can trust.

What’s Next?

Why have the best high value home insurance companies partnered with Weiss Insurance?

Weiss Insurance offers a “Concierge Insurance Department” whose sole purpose is to provide insurance services for the custom homeowners.

What will we do for you?

  1. You get a small team of trained high value home insurance specialists. From quoting out your current insurance to adding on a piece of jewelry once your policy is effective, you build a trusting relationship with a small team who understands your needs.
  2. Review every aspect of your home insurance portfolio to make sure there are no gaps. We do this upon becoming a customer and every year at renewal.

Here’s How it Works:

To start is simple, just visit our high value home insurance to request a coverage review and quote comparison or simply call our office at (630)584-1717.

We’re licensed throughout the U.S. to protect our clients who own property in multiple states.

As a high value homeowner, you’ve worked hard to get to where you’re at. You deserve not only peace of mind but true protection from the best high value home insurance companies.

Get started now by visiting our high value home insurance page or call our office at (630)584-1717 to speak to a specialist today.