Magazine article Black Enterprise

Who's Your Agent? When Buying Insurance, You've Got Options. (Buying Power)

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Who's Your Agent? When Buying Insurance, You've Got Options. (Buying Power)

Article excerpt

Within a year, insurance for Umana and Dawn Essien's home, health, and car in Tomball, Texas, reached stratospheric proportions.

The couple's car insurance cost $400 per month. Umana's teachers' insurance premiums rose from $100 a month to $340. Even their mortgage increased because their homeowners' insurance was incorporated into their payments. "Everything was going up," Dawn says.

But instead of buckling under the pressure, Umana and Dawn found creative alternatives to standard insurers and procedures. And they saved money. For anyone looking for better insurance options, it's a matter of finding an option most compatible with your needs. That is, of course, after you've done all the necessary homework. Start by considering the following:

* Consider a licensed broker. Unlike large insurance companies, brokers scout for the best deals among a variety of insurers for policies that best fit your situation. "Brokers tend to represent the policyholders," says P.J. Crowley, vice president of public affairs at the Insurance Information Institute. Query several brokers before making a decision. How is their company rated? The best companies have an A rating. How many companies can they recommend? A good broker should provide you with at least four or five options, says Patrick Moore, president of Diversified Insurance Services, a Chicago brokerage firm. Query several brokers before making a decision, and be wary of brokers who offer deals that seem too good to be true. "All are offering the same product, but maybe from different companies," Moore says. "If the price is out of line or doesn't seem to be an average, I'd steer clear of it."

* Purchase direct insurance. Many companies cut costs by eliminating the middleman and the agent, selling the policy directly to you. Geico is the most widely known. …

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