Change is hard. Whether you’re considering a new insurance agent or a new hairstylist, it’s usually easier to stick with the one you have. But the one you have might be costing you – time, money or even both.
After more than three decades of working in the New York City insurance market, we’ve seen some horror stories. We’ve also seen some heroes. We hope you’re working with the latter instead of the former. Just in case, we’ve put together a short list of danger signs. If you’ve experienced any of the following, it might be time to look for a new insurance agent.
You might need a new insurance agent if . . .
- You only hear from your agent when it’s time to renew. One or three years go by, and the only communication you’ve received from your insurance agent is a form letter at renewal time. Things change with time. Property values and construction costs fluctuate. Systems grow old and depreciate; others are replaced. These and other factors can affect your building insurance premiums. Some changes, like building improvements, could help you save money on building insurance. If your current agent isn’t calling to discuss what’s happening in the market and with your property, it might be time for a change.
- Your agent hasn’t discussed replacement costs with you since you bought the initial policy – 10 years ago. Each term, your policy renews with essentially the same limits and protections. Depending on where you live, this approach might be fine. But with New York City building insurance, costs can change dramatically in a short period of time. A $400,000 Brooklyn brownstone may be worth $1.5 million a few years later. A good agent will review your policy each year to make sure you have the right protection.
- You’re responsible for securing the paperwork and delivering it to the bank. Have you ever needed to provide proof of insurance to a bank or mortgage company when buying a property? How about when refinancing or changing your insurance company? If the answer is “yes,” you should consider looking for a new insurance agent. Working directly with banks should be part of your insurance partner’s service.
- Your agent hasn’t approached you with strategies for lowering your premiums. When shopping for insurance policies, you provide details about your property, and your agent presents different policies and premiums, based on your request. This straightforward approach isn’t necessarily bad. But a good insurance agent will talk to you about how you can improve your property profile and lower your rates. If you’re insuring multiple buildings, he or she might recommend combining your properties under a master policy for more savings.
- Your agent presents an off-the-shelf policy, instead of helping you plan custom coverage. You tell your agent what you’re looking for, and he or she comes back to you with proposals from different underwriters. Variables like deductible and contents coverage are filled in, without your feedback. These policies may be fine, but you might end up paying for coverage you don’t need. Even worse, you may be missing out on additional protections that you do need.
- Your agent hasn’t offered you specialized coverage, like earthquake and flood insurance. Your policy covers basic risks, such as fire and liability, and you’re happy with the premium. But what if your property is damaged by sewage backup or an earthquake? That’s not the time to find out you’re not protected against those risks. The right agent will discuss these special coverages with you up front so you have the coverage you need, when you need it.