As an independent insurance agent since 2010, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some fantastic realtors. They know how to serve their clients through hard work, excellent communication, and intimate knowledge of the home-buying process.
When these realtors send clients my way, they come informed, and I love it! Things go more smoothly for them, and everyone is happier.
But the road can get rocky when realtors don’t know how to communicate with their clients about this challenging subject. A realtor needs to be able to point out potential liabilities and money-saving opportunities that may make or break a deal.
As you go about doing your best work for your clients, keep these principals in mind.
1. New = Lower Risk
The newer the house, the easier it is to insure. But insurance companies can look past the age of the house if it features updates to its major systems.
Look for a home with a roof under 15 years old. Look for newer heating and cooling, electrical, and plumbing. Older systems can be potential hazards, therefore newer systems will generally result in premium discounts.
2. Location Matters for Insurance, Too!
Homes in areas with a high crime rate represent a significant risk. Help your client by researching the local crime rate. If it’s on the high side, recommend they install a security system if the home they are planning to buy doesn’t already have one.
Rural areas can present a different set of considerations. If a property is more than five miles from the nearest fire department, or a house is more than 1000 feet from a hydrant, expect higher rates.
3. Pools Come with a Higher Premium
If your buyers are considering a home with a pool, make sure they know to budget extra. Also, let them know diving boards are even more, and slides can be a deal-breaker for many insurance companies.
Since pools are such a big area of exposure, we’ll often recommend a higher Personal Liability limit or a separate Umbrella policy. And don’t forget—make sure the pool has a fence around it!
4. Pets are Part of the Equation
If your buyer is planning on moving in with a breed of pet that insurance companies consider to be dangerous, they should be prepared to shop around. Dogs on a company’s “bad breed list” or certain exotic pets (like pythons) can either be uninsurable or come with a higher premium.
However, a good independent insurance agent will do this legwork. We know which companies have pet restrictions or surcharges, and which do not. We’ll work to find the best quote on your client’s behalf.
5. Package Deals Make More Sense
Everyone knows it’s usually best to bundle home and auto insurance, but you may ask your client what else he or she is currently insuring. Do they own other properties? Recreational vehicles? Do they insure any jewelry or other items of value?
Bundling insurance policies can be more convenient and make more financial sense. It’s always a good thing when clients know that ahead of time.
6. Lenders’ Estimates Can Be Unreliable
If your clients set their budget using their lender’s insurance estimate, they may be disappointed when they see their actual premium. Don’t let this happen: recommend they get a qualified quote from an independent insurance agent before they set their budget.
7. Indies Get the Best Rates
I know I may be biased, but independent insurance agents really are the best choice for almost any situation. Unlike agents who represent only one company, independent agents work with many different top-rated companies and can shop for the best deal.
Some companies are more competitive for young professionals, some for seniors, some for new drivers. Independent agents will find out which “bucket” a person or family falls into, so they can match them with the right carrier.
Internet direct companies may seem like a viable option, but even though they may find great deals, they offer little to no coverage consultation or service after the sale. For those who have to file a claim, that service makes all of the difference in the world.
Often, clients want to call their agent’s office before their insurer when they have a question or a claim. A good agent knows the system and can offer assistance. They should also hold the carrier accountable, knowing they can help the client take their business elsewhere if the company doesn’t provide competitive rates and top-notch customer service.
Don’t let insurance catch your clients off guard! Help them make informed choices as they shop for insurance.
Ryan Garwitz is an independent insurance agent with HSGW Insurance. You can learn more about Ryan and HSGW here.