Monday, August 24, 2009

The Ins and Outs of Buying Your First Home Insurance Policy

How much would you say you know about home insurance? A lot? A little? Whichever camp you happen to fall in, if you're shopping for home insurance for your first house you better catch up quick! There's a lot that goes into making sure you get the best deal possible on your insurance coverage, and at a time when hundreds of homeowners are paying way too much for their insurance policy it pays to be in the know.

Types of Coverage

Your homeowners insurance policy is going to do three things:

  1. Protect your house from being flattened (or at least, rebuild it if it is).

  2. Pay to replace the contents of your house if they're destroyed or stolen.

  3. Protect you from the potential fiscal liabilities of people being injured on your property.

Structure Coverage

When you're determining the limits of liability you're going to need to protect your house from being destroyed you need to take into account the fact that your land probably isn't going to be destroyed by hail or fire. Yes, your grass might take a lickin', and it may or may not keep on tickin', but gardens and yards can be replanted for considerably less expense than you're going to pay to insure the land over the years. Check your appraisal and take out a home insurance policy for the value of the structure(s) themselves.


One of the first things you should do when you get ready to buy your first home is take a careful inventory of the contents of your house. It's important to let your homeowners insurance company know if you've got jewelry or paintings of value that are going to need to be covered. It's not going to do you any good to try to file an insurance claims for them if you never declared them in the first place! Don't forget to include your electronics in this too. Televisions, radios and computers can get really expensive, really fast, so don't forget to make sure you're protected against a fire or a thief deciding to "liberate" them from the tyranny of ownership.

Yours, that is.

Personal Injury Liability

Did you know that if someone is injured on your property it's your fault, even when it's not your fault? For example, if someone you don't even know climbs over your back fence and into your pool without your permission, and they happen to be injured in your swimming pool, you're financially liable. That unpleasant nugget takes a lot of people by surprise.

You want your homeowners insurance coverage to be sufficient to protect you against the injury, property and potential lawsuit liabilities of owning a house, so it's important to make sure your levels are high enough. $100,000-$300,000 per incident is usually recommended, but that number may change as the cost of health care continues to rise so be sure to talk to your insurance agent before signing on the dotted line.

Buying your first house is exciting. Make sure it's protected by taking the time to do a little research and make sure you've got a homeowners insurance policy that will keep you protected no matter what life happens to throw your way.

Cliff Berman

Clifford F. Berman is CEO of For more information on buying homeowners insurance for your new house visit them on the web at

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What You Need to Know About New Car Insurance

Isn't there something truly, truly awesome about a new car? There's an infinite amount of potential the minute you slip behind the wheel and put those keys in the ignition. But with great power comes great responsibility…in this case, the responsibility to make sure you've got the car insurance you need.

Many drivers hesitate to spend tremendous amounts of money on insurance coverage for their new car because car insurance rates for new cars are considerably higher than those for older models with a lower resale value. But before you make a decision about your coverage based solely on how much you're going to pay keep in mind that you're going to be responsible for paying off your car loan right along with buying a new car.

Do you really want to be paying for two vehicles when with the right car insurance coverage you could only be paying for one?

Most states require you to carry liability insurance on your car, regardless of how much you owe on it or how long you've owned it. It's sort of a pre-req to being able to take it out on the highways. Liability insurance will protect you from other drivers' damages and expenses if you cause an accident, but it's not going to do anything for you and your car. If you only had liability and you were in an accident you'd be left struggling to buy a new car out of pocket.

Collision insurance, on the other hand, will pick up the tab after you've been in an accident and pay for reparations to your car. That way you have money to pay off your car loan and/or buy a new one without breaking the bank. And your car insurance provider knows they're not going to be left trying to wrangle money out of you without any assets to use for collateral after the fact. Can you imagine trying to collect on a debt when you don't have anything to repossess?

Comprehensive insurance picks up the tab when Mother Nature decides to strike back for the pollution we're pumping into the atmosphere. "Acts of God", like hail, windstorms, ice storms, icicles and tree branches. Hey, accidents are the only things that leave us scrambling to file car insurance claims! And with comprehensive coverage you know you're going to be protected no matter what happens.

Finally, let's talk about uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance. It's no secret that today's economy is slipping. And if you don't know all you have to do is look at the number of layoffs and the businesses that are going to under to find out! With budgets having to stretch farther than ever and unemployment on the rise many drivers are choosing to travel without car insurance-at all. And those that do may not have enough coverage to protect them if they're in an accident.

Uninsured motorist insurance will pick up the cost of your repairs if you're involved in an accident with one of these individuals and get you back on the road instead of making you wait months or even years to get the money back in court.

New cars are great, but they're also a lot of work. But isn't it nice to know that your money is going toward something as important as car insurance that's going to help you and your family protect your financial assets instead of line someone else's pockets?

Mike McDonough

Mike McDonough is a National Account Representative for For more information on buying car insurance for your new car, visit them on the web at

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Best Kept Secrets in the Car Insurance Industry When it Comes to Saving Money on Your Insurance Premiums

We all tend to put a tremendous amount of faith in those little questionnaires we fill out when it comes to saving money on our car insurance, but are we putting too much faith in them? There are literally hundreds of insurance discounts that you're never going to find on any car insurance company's quote questionnaire. In fact, the first time agent you talk to when you buy your policy may not even know about half of them!

That's why it pays to be in the know before you pick up the phone.

Car insurance companies base your insurance discounts on four basic categories: You, your car, your driving history and your insurance needs.

1) You

Believe it or not, you have NOT been reduced to a nameless, faceless number. Not completely, anyway! Who you are and where you live play a huge role in how much you're going to pay for your car insurance coverage. Teachers and engineers are statistically less likely to be in an an accident, so they get better discounts on their insurance. And car insurance companies love people who drive very little, live in rural areas and don't have to commute to work.

Not to mention you can save big bucks by being over 25. The number of insurance claims filed by drivers over 25 is 60% lower than those that are under 25, making you much cheaper for them to insure.

2) Your Car

The Highway Loss Data Institute keeps a record each year of cars involved in accidents and thefts. These are charted out by make, model and year and provide a very accurate representation of the risk your car represents. If your car is high risk you're going to pay more, if your car is low risk you're going to enjoy better discounts.

And if you're driving a Jag, Mercedes or other luxury car that's going to cost more to replace your premiums are going to be higher by default. There's nothing you can do about that.

3) Types of Car Insurance You Need

Needless to say, you're going to pay more for comprehensive and collision coverage than you would if you only had liability. That's why people with secondhand cars that have a $500 or less resale value don't usually bother with them. It's just not worth it! If you're driving a new car, or one with a lien on it, you're going to want full coverage. A full coverage package usually includes:

  • Liability

  • Collision

  • Comprehensive

  • Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist

**Pro Tip: Higher Deductibles=Lower Premiums. Use that to your advantage.**

4) Your Driving History

You knew it was coming. Don't act like you didn't! None of the car insurance companies out there are going to willingly issue you a car insurance policy without first checking out your driving record, so the best thing you can do is stay as squeaky clean as possible. Accidents and traffic violations are going to count against you, as well as multiple speeding tickets. Keep your eyes on the road and your foot off the gas pedal and you should have no trouble saving money on your insurance.

Anthony Peck

Anthony M. Peck is the Senior Developer, Software Project Manager and Director of Business Development for For more information on how to save on car insurance visit them at

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Get Quality Cheap Auto Insurance by Shopping Online

It is challenging in the hard economical times to incur added expenses. As the discretionary income declines in some households it Is harder to maintain budgets and it is necessary to cut costs. It is important to keep insurance as it comes in handy in a time of need. Most states do require some type of auto insurance. Whether it be the minimum liability or something else, any licensed driver needs it. To assist with finding cheap auto insurance that can be affordable and fit into your budget, here are a few tips on how to shop for the best insurance companies.

The internet is the best source for shoppers who are looking for cheap auto insurance. There is not a cut and dry way to guarantee cheap auto insurance, but you can get affordable insurance based on your needs. When you start shopping around online, it may be a surprise to you, but there are hundreds of insurance carriers.

Trying to look through all of the companies and educating yourself on the products and coverage they provide can be a time consuming task. To make your job easier there are many online resources and user friendly tools available to cut to the chase and get the quotes you need to help you evaluate which company has the cheap auto insurance or the most economical that is affordable for your situation.

The best way to get quotes from a variety of companies so you can make a descent comparison is by using insurance affiliates or partners. These companies have a network of insurance carriers they work with. Many are the top providers and names you can trust. The way it works is you complete a simple questionnaire by providing basic information.

Usually you are asked your age, if you currently have insurance, the make and model of the automobile being insured, and your current residence. This is important so you will be matched with an insurance company that is licensed to provide coverage in your resident state.

Once your form is submitted, you will be instantly matched with insurance providers for your area. The list of companies will come up instantly. Each company will have a link to their website generally. You can review their website that will normally provide the different types of plans they have and the types of coverage along with the costs of the monthly premiums.

Having a list of carriers at your fingertips makes the search for cheap auto insurance fast and easy. There are ways to get cheap auto insurance. The lower the price of your premium depends on different factors. If you have maintained a good driving record, continue to do so. If your travel time to work does not add too many miles, your policy can be lower with some companies.

Other factors that will earn you cheap auto insurance rates are the type of automobile you have. The rates are lower if your car has safety standards and features. The age, style, and model make a difference. If you have a sports or luxury car, chances are you won't find cheap auto insurance, but you can find the best rates by continuing your online search and comparisons.

Jim Bassett

Looking for car insurance for a 16 year old? Get comprehensive, cheap auto insurance quotes now.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What Low Income California Drivers Need to Know About the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program

Rising unemployment rates and the exorbitant cost of gas have left hundreds struggling to come up with the fund they need to keep their car properly insured. That's why over 15% of drivers on the highways today are driving uninsured, 3 million plus in California alone. In an effort to stem the rising tide of uninsured drivers California has implemented an insurance program designed especially for low income drivers known as the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program.

Unlike regular insurance programs, which are designed to work on a fixed rate premium depending on your circumstances, the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program (CLCA) works on a sliding scale determined by your income. Drivers that meet the definition of financial need established by the governing authority can aply to be admitted into the program and enjoy the benefits of a low cost insurance policy designed especially to meet their needs.

This isn't one of those low cost insurance programs designed to persecute the middle class just because they happen to make enough money to keep food on the table and pay their rent on a semi-regular basis. Instead, the program is designed to accommodate the bottom edge of the middle class, with a family of four being permitted to have a combined income of up to $50,000-considerably higher than the state poverty level.

With an income level this high the hope is that every driver will take the initiative and apply for the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program rather than choosing to continue to drive uninsured.

Because California has a mandatory liability requirement for its drivers the CLCA only offers liability coverage as part of its low cost insurance plan. Included in the plan is:

  • $10,000 Bodily Injury Liability per person.

  • $20,000 Bodily Injury per accident.

  • $3,000 Property Damage per accident.

As you've probably already noticed, this is significantly less than California's minimum liability requirements for drivers. State officials are willing to make a trade off in exchange for dramatically reducing the number of drivers they have out there driving uninsured. Auto insurance companies have no choice about offering this low cost insurance to their clientele, but they reserve the right to keep their coverage levels low to encourage drivers that can afford it to seek regular coverage.

Collision and comprehensive are not included as part of the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program. You can, however, purchase them separately from your insurance carrier without affecting your eligibility for the program. Most companies do offer you the chance to purchase additional medical coverage and uninsured motorist at a low cost through the program to protect yourself from the people out there who weren't as quick to pick up on this great deal as you were.

The California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program is an ideal solution for low income drivers who don't want to have to sacrifice their auto insurance coverage to keep dinner on the table. If you're struggling to pay your premiums but don't want to join the ranks of the uninsured contact the CLCA as soon as possible.

Cliff Berman

Cliff Berman is the CEO of For more information about your auto insurance visit them on the web at

Friday, August 14, 2009

How to Determine the Right Length of Term Life Insurance

Outside of how much term life insurance to purchase, the other key concern is how long or what term the insurance should be purchased for. These two factors really determine cost so let's take a look at the question of "how long?"

Term life terms usually come in fixed periods of time running 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 years depending on carrier. One of the reasons that term life insurance is so much less expensive than whole life insurance is that the carrier is only at risk for a period of time. Whole life insurance can continue...well..for a person's whole life. The analogy of renting life insurance (term) versus owning (whole) is usually thrown out (most likely by someone selling whole life insurance!). Life insurance is quite different from home ownership (the basis for the analogy). One is an asset while the other is protection from risk. Whole life insurance can be 10 times the cost of term.

The key to term life insurance is that you use it to protect against a defined risk or to mitigate a defined financial responsibility. The most common goal is to provide for loved ones in case of the loss of an income provider be it the sole or partial provider. This is a common concern for families at all stages from newlyweds to older adults whose children have already left the house. Typically, people underestimate the financial strain a loss puts on the their families. If you were to imagine not only the stress of the loss but the financial impact of everything falling on the other family member(s), it becomes apparent pretty quickly how important sufficient term life insurance protection can be.

Let's look at some typical term considerations.

Newlyweds/families with young children.

The cost of raising children is estimated at a quarter of a million dollars from birth to college these days and that will only increase with time. Clearly, the concern for newlyweds or families with young children is to provide financial protection out to where the children are adults and ideally through college (another ever escalating expense). This would argue for a longer term period between 20-30 years. Keep in mind that for a given budget, the longer the term, the less coverage can be purchased for the same life insurance premium amount. There's a trade off and it's best to use the instant quote engine to run multiple combinations of term and term life amount to find the right "mix" for your budget.

Established family with/without older children.

As mentioned above, college becomes a key concern for this group. College is estimated at $20K-$40K and that amount will grow significantly into the foreseeable future. Paying off existing debt and/or assets also becomes a competing consideration. Mortgages, business debts, credit cards, and loans should be equally considered along with income replacement to get past the college years successfully.

Older adults

For adults who no longer have the intense financial responsibility of children, the shift is towards providing for debt/asset payoff and income replacement over a shorter period of time. Term is ideal here as well due to the significant price savings versus whole life for equivalent amounts of coverage. Age is the primary factor in determining cost so buiying term life insurance at an older age can be expensive. Whole life almost becomes out of the question for any amount of significant coverage as it's typically 10 times more expensive than term life insurance.

The best approach is to try multiple term limits when you run your instant term life insurance quote on our free engine to find the right "mix" for you.

Dennis Jarvis

Dennis Jarvis is a licensed insurance agent concentrating on term life insurance. Shop, compare, and instantly quote multiple carriers with professional guidance and resources.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Understand Term Life Insurance Premiums

Let's take a quick look at the dreaded term life insurance premium. The first take-away is that,'s not that bad! Term life insurance has become incredibly affordable especially compared with other types of life insurance such as whole or variable life. In fact, prices have dropped significantly over the past decade in an increasingly competitive market. Let's dig a little deeper into what affects term life premiums.

The term life insurance premium is just a fancy insurance word for the amount of money you pay to keep a term insurance policy in effect. It's your part o f the contract with the carrier. As long as you pay your policy, the coverage will remain in effect for your desired term regardless of health. It is guaranteed renewable in this sense for a fixed period of time. Depending on the life carrier, you typically have the option of paying premium in different ways and there can be a discount to paying for longer amount such as a year versus monthly. The rates given in the quote engine are usually the monthly amount but a discount can be applied for annual payments when you go through the application process. There are various ways to pay your premium depending on the carrier that range from billings to credit card/auto deductible options.

What factors affect the term life insurance premium?

There are three main factors that drive your term life insurance premium amount. Think of a triangle with age at time of enrollment, term length, and amount of coverage. You really can't control the page part (apart from not procrastinating) but keep in mind that there is a considerable cost to waiting to purchase term life insurance. You will end up paying more in total dollars by waiting. The key then is to find the right "blend" between term length and amount of coverage. You can play around with these variables when you run your instant term life insurance quote in our free engine.

Health condition at time of enrollment

Your general health and pre-existing conditions can affect both your ability to qualify but also your pricing. Factors such as smoking, being overweight, etc can have a bearing on your pricing as the premiums are usually set up among health class such as Preferred, Standard, etc. There may be options for you even with health issues although they might be for lesser amounts and different than the one listed in the quoting engine.

For those who are frustrated with the incessant rate increases from their health insurance carriers, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that term life premiums are fixed during the desired term length. This is why it's so important to purchase life insurance as young as possible. That fixed rate will be higher with each passing year of your life if you wait to purchase term life insurance.

Different carriers have riders available that affect your term life premium. These "riders" are essentially specific add-on benefits to your core life insurance coverage that cost extra premium. For example, you may be able to stop paying premium and keep the policy in effect if disabled. You usually pay an extra amount for each rider. This is really a question of personal preference. Our thought is to buy as much core term life protection (combination of length and amount) as possible with your available budget. An extra $10/monthly might buy you $100K more in coverage and that would be our recommendation. That being said, do not buy more than you can afford over the long haul or it defeats the purpose to lapse coverage when in financial hardship in the future due to over-insuring your life insurance needs. There's a middle ground there and that is where we recommend purchasing.

Dennis Jarvis

Dennis Jarvis is a licensed insurance agent concentrating on term life insurance. Shop, compare, and instantly quote multiple carriers with professional guidance and resources.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Term Life Versus Whole Life Insurance

How is term life insurance different from whole and which is the right selection for you? That's a key question to answer right away before going any further. Let's compare the two in layman's terms and see why term offers many advantages over whole life...the primary one being considerable lower premiums.

"You get what you pay for" doesn't really apply when comparing term life and whole life. Or maybe it does. Whole life is a very different animal in that the carrier will definitely pay out some amount of money as long as you keep the policy in effect. There's usually a smaller amount of life insurance benefit from the start and then you start to build "cash value" as an add-on to the base term life benefit. Whole life is very expensive when compared to term life insurance so the amounts a person is able to afford is typically much less. Unless you are willing to pay quite a large amount in premium, purchasing enough protection can be an issue for most people. As we addressed in our article on how much life insurance coverage to purchase, the financial responsibilities and income replacement needed for most families would be hard to address with a whole life policy unless you are willing to pay a significant amount in premium.

The reason for this cost is that whole insurance doesn't really fit the model of insurance. Insurance, by definition, is a device to spread the improbable risk that might wipe one individual and spread among a larger number of people. When done correctly, each person pays a premium to offset the total risk for the group. Whole life is not this. With whole life, every member of the risk group will trigger their benefits, albeit at different times. The carrier basically needs to invest the premium amount and make enough money for a long enough average period to pay out the benefit to everyone and make a profit. This structure is probably more akin to a mutual fund with some added life benefit up front in case. It's hard to make an argument for this. A better approach is to buy a much larger term life benefit at a fraction of whole life cost and invest the difference if you like. That's essentially what the whole life carrier is doing but with an added margin at your expense. It's hard to see how whole life benefits anyone besides the brokers and carrier when you analyze the dollars over the long term.

Term life insurance is true insurance. At it's core, you are protecting against the risk of death for a fixed period of time and for a fixed amount. We address the concerns to look at when choosing your term length period of time but the key is to address the years that financial responsibility falls hardest and "replace lost income" during that period and/or address financial/debt liabilities such as mortgages, loans, credit cards, etc. This method is significantly less expensive than that of whole life insurance.

Dennis Jarvis

Dennis Jarvis is a licensed insurance agent concentrating on term life insurance. Shop, compare, and instantly quote multiple carriers with professional guidance and resources.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Term Life Insurance Underwriting Process

The terms "underwriting" and "underwriter" are typically heard when discussing the enrollment process for term life insurance. Aside from the ominous sound, what do these terms really mean? Let's take a quick look at the underwriter's role in applying for term life insurance.

Underwriting is essentially the process by which a carrier determines if you are eligible to qualify for term life insurance coverage and at what health class (which directly translates into "what rate"). The underwriter, in this sense, is the person who reviews your information based on carrier guidelines and practices (called underwriting guidelines in keeping with the theme). Your part of the process typically consists of completing the life insurance application and taking the paramedical exam. The evaluation of this information then falls to the underwriter, an employee of the carrier.

The bulk of factors that affect your eligibility status are pretty well spelled out in these guidelines. For example, these carriers will usually have an explicit height to weight ratio chart that determines health class along clear lines. Smoking (including type, for how long, and at what volume) is also pretty well delineated. These same guidelines will list a range of health issues with parameters for contributing facts such as how long sing/symptom/treatment free. Cancer is an example where type of cancer, severity (state in the case of cancer), treatment results, and time cancer-free will all be factored in.

Not everything is so black and white and the underwriter is the person that has to determine the shades of gray for an applicant's health status and history. Think of all the combinations of health issues and you see how a person needs to be involved. A person could only have high blood pressure which obviously is a concern, but much more so if found in conjunction with high cholesterol, obesity, and a family history of heart attack/disease. The underwriter is the person who tries to align your personal mortality risk with the carrier's health classes.

The underwriter uses information from your health questionaire on the application, family medical history listed, the results of your paramedical exam, and even outside information such as from the MIB (Medical Information Board). The MIB is an reposit of medical information shared and created by life carriers that they each access to verify information or use to detect potential fraud. For example, if you had a history of heart disease or left off information relating to this disease with another carrier, it might appear at the MIB. The underwriter may use all these potential sources within the framework of the carriers underwriting guidelines to establish your eligibility.

As the applicant, it's important to present all your information in an honest, complete, and direct manner. It does not serve your you well to get a better rate and/or approved with missing/false information only to have your coverage rescinded or benefit declined. We have seen this occur and it a horrible position to be in.

Dennis Jarvis

Dennis Jarvis is a licensed insurance agent concentrating on term life insurance. Shop, compare, and instantly quote multiple carriers with professional guidance and resources.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Smoking And Term Life Insurance Eligibility

A common question from people applying for term life insurance is how smoking will affect their rates. Smoking is such a concern that it's typically listed right in the quoting tool. Let's look a little closer at how smoking will affect the outcome of your term life enrollment.

Why is smoking considered when applying for life insurance?

Smoking has a very significant effect on your term life rates for good reason. Life insurance is primarily concerned with mortality rates and risk. Smoking has been shown to directly correlate to this risk...especially over the long term which usually falls under the range that term life insurance handles. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), smoking claims 430,000 lives in the U.S. Compare this to 41,000 for automobile accidents, 19,000 for homicides, and 17,000 for AIDS. Approximately 3 million people have died prematurely since 1980 due to smoking. This is the type of information that most interests a life insurance company since its decision are based on mortality risk. There are also the other diseases associated with smoking that impact mortality risk such as heart disease, cancer, and cardio-vascular disease.

The net effect to this risk is that your rates will likely be higher for term life insurance due to smoking and/or tobacco use.

Are there differences between types of Tobacco use?

Yes and no. Depending on the carrier, they might differentiate between smoking, chewing tobacco, and even cigar smoking. It partially depends on years of use, how often used, and other health factors. Conservatively, it's best to expect a higher rate when applying for coverage when you use any tobacco products. You want to plan your life insurance budget based on conservative information so you allow for enough coverage.

Can stopping tobacco use help?

It might. Each carrier will have different guidelines regarding how long you smoked and how long ago it has been since you stopped. As a rule of thumb, a past smoker who has not smoked in 5+ years might qualify for a Preferred Plus tier. 2-3 years would likely be Preferred and finally, if you have not smoked in the last 12 months, the Standard rating might be an option. So not only is cessation good for your health, it can benefit you financially. The simple explanation for this is that mortality risks decline if you stop smoking and continue down the longer your stay away from smoking. You can ask a life insurance carrier to re-evaluate your rates after a period of not smoking.

Honesty about smoking on the term life insurance application.

It's critical to be honest on your application regarding smoking history. The money you save on premium won't mean much if your policy is jeopardized later on...especially if the unforeseen happens and if you have no benefits paid out. The smarter approach is to list your accurate smoking history and then aggressively work to stop smoking with the intent of re-evaluating your rates and/or applying again at a better term life health class soon after the first policy goes into effect. Lying on a term life application is fraud and it defeats the purpose of getting coverage to begin with.

Dennis Jarvis

Dennis Jarvis is a licensed insurance agent concentrating on term life insurance. Shop, compare, and instantly quote multiple carriers with professional guidance and resources.

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