What Should I Look for When I am in the Market for California Homeowners Insurance?

When you are in the market for California homeowners insurance you should consider the premium you will have to pay, the level of service the insurance company can and will provide and how well claims are handled.

The Premium You Pay

The premium is the amount you pay for California home insurance. Usually, your mortgage company will pay the insurance company once per year from an escrow account that you fund monthly along with your principal, interest and tax payments. Premiums differ depending upon the amount of coverage you choose, the value of your house, the neighborhood you happen to live in and many other factors. Generally, new homes and homes in near-perfect condition and complying with all the latest building codes receive lower overall premiums than similarly sized homes that are old and not in such good condition. Premiums for California homeowners insurance are based on risk assessment just like any other type of insurance. The less risk your home presents, the lower the premium you will be charged to insure it.

The Level of Service You Receive

When you purchase California homeowners insurance it is best to go with an insurance company that is easily accessible if you have any questions or problems with your policy. Some insurance companies are very customer friendly while others are much more conservative in their approach to business. Some companies may nickel and dime you with fees to provide a report or have limited hours available for contacting them. On the other hand, some insurance companies give you 24 hour web access, toll free customer service and little or no waiting time to respond to your inquiries. The more customer friendly, the better your experience will be.

Handling of Claims

Simply stated, you want an insurance company that will handle all of your claims fairly and with minimal delay. There are many homeowners all across the country that find out too late that the insurance they thought they had will not pay off when they need it the most. If you doubt that statement, just ask some of the New Orleans homeowners who lost their homes during Hurricane Katrina.

How Home Building Material Impacts your Policy Rate, in California

Did you know that the materials of which your home is made can affect the price you pay for your California homeowners insurance policy? This is one of the many variables that Insurance companies look at before determining how much they will charge to provide you with insurance coverage.

There are two reasons why an insurance company might care about the type of materials that were used to build your home. The first is a matter of safety and how well the house can endure various perils such as fire, wind and heavy rain. The second is the quality of the construction and how long the house might last before needing major maintenance and repairs.

Protection Against Perils

Frame houses made largely of wood are more susceptible to being destroyed by fire than homes made with concrete block or steel building materials. All other things being equal, it is possible that an insurance company will charge you more for a wood frame home than some other types of homes that are more fire-resistant. While fire damage is a major concern, insurance companies are also concerned with how well your home will do in an earthquake, severe wind storm or other acts of nature. They will look at the materials used to build the roof, erect the walls, cover the floors and even check the type of doors and windows in your house.

How Long Your House Might Last Before Needing Major Repairs and Renovations

Homes made with high quality materials and the best construction techniques tend to last longer and require fewer repairs and less maintenance than homes constructed with inferior building materials and shoddy workmanship. Insurance companies will adjust the premiums they charge for clearly superior or inferior built homes.

Is Premium quoted by insurance agent/broker final?

When you compare insurance quotes, whether online or in Texas, the agent/broker provides a cost estimate based on available information. The insurance company sets the final premium for car or home insurance.

Online quotes are popular for several reasons. With direct data entry, mistakes are limited. You can experiment with coverage choices like physical damage, that is collision and comprehensive coverage, and deductible levels.

Before you start, be sure to collect the following paperwork: car titles, driver records of all drivers, and any other relevant information like your old policy. It will be easier if you have all the information ready.

A professional agent/broker consistently provides accurate quotes, but they need your help.

  • Accurately report the year, make and model of all autos owned and covered.
  • Accurately report known moving violations and accidents.
  • Report all drivers, and children within two years of driving age.

Okay, so why report detrimental information to your agent?

Your agent/broker tries to match the insurance company that charges lower premiums for your situation. Once the professional sends the policy request, the company will price the insurance according to the results of their research.

The company will obtain driving records, check car registrations, and sometimes check credit reports. With this information, the company may set a new premium. If the information is significantly different than that which was reported, the agent may have inadvertently placed your coverage on a less than optimal pricing track.

Professional agents know the companies they represent. They understand the company pricing strategy and the company appetite for risk.

If you get quotes online, gathering information ahead of time helps the process run smoother. Details like model year may be missed without preparation. Use your agent if you need to understand coverage or help with more complex insurance requests. In any case, provide accurate and complete information. You’ll get a more accurate quote and determine the company that matches your situation best.

Am I Entitled for Renewal Discount if I choose to Continue with the Same Vendor (Insurer)?

Insurance companies often like to build a relationship with their customers. This loyalty is often built by offering existing customers a potential discount on their car insurance policy if they choose to renew their policy with the same insurance company.

What Is a Renewal Discount when it comes to Home or Auto Insurance Policies?

One of the most common reasons given for not choosing to continue with a particular insurance company after a policy period is the ability to save money. An insurance company wants to build a customer following of loyal customers, but if the customers are constantly switching, this eliminates the company’s ability to create a loyal customer base.

In an effort to encourage customer loyalty, the insurance company will offer what is known as a renewal discount. This is a specialized pricing quote that includes a certain discount just for being a loyal customer and renewing an existing insurance policy.

How Are Renewal Discounts Offered to Insurance Policy Holders?

Most insurance companies will often notify an insurance policy holder that they are eligible to receive a renewal discount on their upcoming insurance policy. This offer is typically conveyed to the insurance holder via mail, phone, or email.

Sometimes a renewal discount is not automatically applied to the upcoming insurance policy. If this were to happen, the insurance policy holder can call their insurance representative or agent and inquire about a potential renewal discount.

Are Insurance Companies Required to Give Renewal Quotes?

There is no particular law in the state of Texas that requires a vendor/insurer to provide a renewal discount. Many insurance companies offer this type of incentive in an effort to compete with their competition in the insurance market, but it is not something that every insurance policy holder is entitled to receive upon renewal.

Even if an insurance policy holder qualifies for a renewal discount, it is a good idea to receive several insurance quotes online. People are able to receive both new and renewal auto insurance quotes online. These available quotes allow individuals to find the best insurance policy that fits their needs with the ability to compare prices and policy terms.

Can insurance coverage be refused for a high risk driver?

Individuals who are classified by insurance companies as "high risk drivers" may find it difficult to get approved for insurance coverage. Insurance companies have the right to refuse coverage to any individual they deem as high risk, as long as that decision has been based on driving records or past actions, and not based on illegal or discriminatory factors.

What Is the Definition of a High Risk Driver?

A high risk driver is an individual that has been deemed by an insurance company to be at a greater risk of involvement in an accident. This higher risk for auto accidents means the individual driver may be a liability to the insurance company. Many insurance companies are uncomfortable with the idea of taking on such a high risk individual and therefore refuse to provide insurance coverage.

What Factors May Determine if a Driver is High Risk?

Each insurance company uses a different software program to analyze facts and information to determine if a driver is defined as high risk. This means a person who is classified as ‘high risk’ at one insurance company and denied coverage may be able to receive coverage from another insurance company because they use different software to base their decision on who is high risk.

Some of the factors that may be used include:

  • Previous accidents
  • Number of issued speeding tickets
  • Type of car that is driven

When Can Insurance Companies Deny Coverage to High Risk Drivers?

Insurance companies have a very limited time frame in which they are allowed to decline coverage to individuals who are considered high risk. An insurance company may decline coverage at the time of the request for an insurance quote.

If an insurance policy has been purchased, the insurance coverage may decline coverage due to an accident or speeding under Texas law within the first 60 days of the policy. However, the reason for the cancelation must be given in writing at least 10 days before the cancelation.

Anyone who believes they may be classified as a high risk driver and may be refused coverage should get several insurance quotes online. Generating several insurance quotes provides the opportunity to compare rates and even find a company that may provide coverage to a high risk driver.

Can my New York home insurance be cancelled if I have a mortgage?

Most states, including New York, have specific protocols for an insurance company to cancel a homeowner policy.

Homeowner insurance can be cancelled for non-payment of premium on relatively short notice; however, the mortgagee must be notified in advance. It is unlikely the mortgagee will allow the policy to terminate, especially if it holds escrow funds for premium payment.

Most mortgagees maintain property insurance to protect its interest on otherwise uninsured properties. Of course, this premium will be added to the uninsured mortgage balance.

In New York, the insurance company can non-renew a policy for underwriting reasons or cancel for cause mid-term with notice to interested parties, such as the mortgagee.

Underwriting reasons might be company oriented, for example, the company is no longer writing coverage in New York. Or perhaps the company no longer writes coverage within fifty miles of the coast.

Cancellation for cause is rarer. The company will non-renew for too many claims; but cancel for cause if illegal activity is discovered, or a fraudulent application was submitted.

The short answer, however, is yes, property insurance can be cancelled regardless of a mortgage lien. The lender must be properly notified in writing in order to have the opportunity to protect its asset. The owner must be notified in writing and given the time frame appropriate to the reason for cancellation to replace coverage.

Protecting Your Car All Year without a Garage

Your insurance company will consider several factors when setting your car insurance rates: Your driving record, zip code and how many miles you drive each day are important factors but so is how you protect your car.

Simply put, your insurance carrier will charge you fewer dollars if you can somehow protect your car from thieves and hit-and-run accidents.

Your challenge, though, is a tough one: How can you do this if you don’t have a garage? And, how can you convince your insurance carrier that you really are protecting your auto even if you don’t store it in a safe garage every night?

The good news? Protection doesn’t just come from a garage.

First, there’s location. Your car will be safer from criminals and hit-and-run drivers if you park it every night on either a quiet side street or a driveway. This will keep you car out of the path of most other drivers. And, it will keep your auto out of the sights of many thieves.

If you want additional protection from auto burglaries, invest in a car alarm. Insurance companies love these alarms as just the indication that your car is protected will deter some thieves who’d rather pick an easier target.

From your insurance company’s point of view, the worst place for you to park your car is on a busy or well-traveled street in a neighborhood whose zip code registers as a high-crime one. Cars parked here have a far higher risk of getting sideswept from speeding drivers or becoming a target of auto thieves. And, if you really want to see your auto insurance rates rise, park in this manner and don’t purchase an alarm system. Then insurance companies will see your auto completely unprotected.

Parking in a garage in a safe neighborhood is your best option as far as insurance rates go. But, if you don’t have access to a garage, go for the next best options available. It’ll be your best bet for avoiding sky-high insurance rates.

Understanding Your Insurance Options in Your State

Every state is different when it comes to options for insurance. Because of that, it is very important that you do your research into the state in which you live and what kind of insurance is required. You may be able to get more coverage in one area of the country than in another, and you may have options that you didn’t consider or didn’t even know you could get. As you look at your choices for an insurer and a policy, you should make a list of trends you’re seeing and questions you have. If you need a rare valuable insured, you may have to go to a specialized insurance company. More common insurers may not offer you the options you need.

You will also want to decide whether you’re going to separate your insurance needs and use different companies or whether you would prefer all of your policies to be handled by one company. A lot of people like having all of their policies together because it makes things easier for them. However, your state may have an insurance provider or two that doesn’t have all types of policies as one of your options. If that’s the case, you may be better off using different companies – and you may not really have a choice in the matter.

Whether you use one company or several, make sure you know your options as they pertain to what is required in your state. That’s especially important when moving from one state to another because insurance requirements can be very different. Your life insurance would likely not be affected, but your car and homeowners policies could have specific limits that were not required in your previous state of residence. Take the time to ask questions of your agent to be sure you’re getting the right coverage for your needs.

The Most Overlooked Insurance Discounts

If you need insurance, one thing you want to get are discounts. If you don’t take advantage of the discounts that are offered to you, you may end up spending a lot more money for your insurance policy. No one likes to spend money that they could have saved for something else and you shouldn’t have to. Unfortunately, a lot of people overlook a discount or two (or more) that they could have gotten if they’d been aware of them.

Discounts on your vehicle are related to your VIN, or vehicle identification number. Your VIN gives your insurance carrier great information, regarding what your car is equipped with. If you have airbags and antilock brakes, for example, most insurers will offer discounts for those items. Customers who only purchase liability coverage won’t see these kinds of discounts, though. They are only for people who have other coverage options such as medical payment, unisured/underinsured motorists, and personal injury protection. The same is true for a car alarm. You can get a discount for that, but only if you’re carrying theft coverage – which is part of comprehensive.

Each insurance company is different. Some even provide a discount for membership in a particular group, but this is relatively rare. By changing companies, you may be able to get your insurance for a lot less. Just make sure that you’re not giving up any coverage in order to get your discount. If that’s the case you have to consider whether it’s really a discount at all. You should always choose good coverage over getting a discount, so keep that in mind when you’re shopping for an insurance company that will meet your needs. The best choice is to work with an independent agent or broker who can find the right insurance policy for you and help you get the discounts to which you are entitled.

Reasons to Shop Auto Insurance Options Before Leasing or Financing a New Vehicle

Leasing or financing a new vehicle can be really exciting, but make sure you know what kind of insurance you’ll be paying. It only makes sense that your insurance rates would be higher with a new vehicle than with an older one, so shop around before you finance or lease that auto. If you have a current company that your’e insured with, you can start by calling your agent. See what the difference in premium would be between the vehicle you drive now and the one that you want to buy. Get that quote in writing, and you can use it to shop for insurance with other companies before you lease or finance your new vehicle.

Any new auto that you lease or finance will have to be fully insured, so when you get quotes it’s very important that you make sure you’re getting equivalent coverage. If one insurance company is much cheaper than the rest, take the time to find out why that’s the case. You don’t want to get coverage that’s not going to protect you if you need it later down the road. That has happened to people before when they’ve taken out a cheap policy from a company that they hadn’t heard of and didn’t check out carefully.

Don’t let an insurance problem find you after you finance or lease a great new auto. When you shop for an insurer, compare apples to apples and check out each company carefully. Make sure you feel confident about the policy you’re buying. if you don’t feel comfortable with a particular insurer, there’s nothing wrong with choosing to pay a little more to get the peace of mind that you want. In the long run, that extra time spent looking for the right insurance policy for your new auto may be the best investment you’ve ever made.