Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Passions in Life and Insurance Tips

A good friend of mine told me to today that he envied me. He said that he wishes he could pursue his passions like I have. However, to be honest, I had never thought of the fact that I am one of those lucky people who do get to pursue something that I feel passionately about.

When people think of pursuing passions, I suppose thoughts come to mind such as sailing across the seas, climbing Mount Everest, or motorcycling through Europe. I think that is an over romantification--I just made that work up apparently according to spell check--okay, a romanticized notion of pursuing a passion. You see, we all have to eat and usually this has a cost associated with it. And that cost is usually covered by something we define as work. And yes, I am one of the lucky people who get paid to pursue my passion.

You are probably asking yourself how can selling insurance can be a passion. Well, my real passion is helping people. While I don't operate a food bank or homeless shelter, I do try everyday to make people's lives a little easier by helping them face the risks they have for financial loss in the best way possible. I guess you could shorten that by simply saying, “saving money on their insurance.”

I remember when I decided to go into sales. I was an adjuster handling large liability claims. I had just driven to Pantego, NC to pay a claimant policy limits on their claim. That means I was paying the maximum I could; it was the total amount of coverage that the insured driver had purchased. I showed them the copy of the policy verifying the amount and gave them a check for that amount. Thinking I had done the best for them that I could, they proceeded to cuss me out, and then said they were going to get an attorney and sue. I tried to explain to them that they received all the money available, and the insured driver had died in the accident and really had no estate to go after. However, they continued to curse at me.

Later that day, I went to an agents office. A new client was there exclaiming how appreciative she was that the had saved her $20. I thought..Hmm, maybe I would like sales better.  And later in my career I had a chance to become an independent agent which allowed me even more ability to find the best possible options for my clients. That makes me happy.

I say all this to explain how I pursue my passions in life and in my business. Along those lines, I want to share some ways to save money very easily on you insurance. These thing usually work no matter the company.

1. Raise your deductibles. There can be a dramatic effect depending on the circumstances. I recently ran the numbers for a client and showed him he would have saved $2300 over the last 12 years had he had a $1000 deductible on his home owners instead of $250. On auto, I have seen client insist on a $0 deductible on comprehensive even though it may cost them $400 a year to make sure the didn't have to pony up any money in the event of a windshield break.

2. Pay your bills annually and online. Especially with auto, most companies give a discount for paying in full in the area of 7 to 10%. The companies like to get the money up front so they can start investing it and not don't have the expense of billing. And you are more likely to keep your policy for the entire year so they give you an incentive to do so. A win-win for everybody.
     I'm always amazed at the number of people who like to come by my office and pay their bill. With the cost of gas, and wear and tear on their car that has got to add $5 to the cost of each payment. Instead, jump online and pay with a credit card you get reward points, save on gas and stamps, and let your money work for you another month. Of course, I do suggest paying your credit card in full and not carrying a balance if at all possible.  Which leads me to...

3. Maintain a good credit record. There is a statistical correlation between credit score and number of claims. Almost all companies use credit as a factor in rating. The better your credit the better your rate. This is one of the biggest factors you can control, more incentive to pay all your bills on time!

4. Multi-policy discounts. If you can qualify to have your Home and Auto insurance with the same carrier it is usually the best option. Especially in ENC !

5. Consider the cost of insurance BEFORE making a purchase. I am the one that has to deal with the aftermath when that shiny new car spikes your insurance premium or the big house out in the country costs a lot more than your little house in the city. Call your agent before you make the decisions so you know the total cost.

6. Improve security. Smoke detectors, dead bolt locks, carbon monoxide detectors, fire extinguishers, and security systems can literally save your life and in the process qualify you for more discounts.

7. Have an independent agent. Yeah call me impartial, but it's the truth. If I am doing my job correctly, I'm finding you the best combination of rate and coverage for you and not just selling the one company I work for (sorry captive agent friends!)

8. Check the financial ratings of the insurance company. Just like the companies check your credit, you should check theirs. If a company has a less than stellar rating then they apparently don't have as much money in the bank to pay future claims. If they are selling insurance cheaper yet are rated lower you savings my be only in the short run.

Want more financial advice? Give me a call!  As I've stated, I'm passionate about it!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cline's 8 Rules for New Drivers

First, understand that I am not your normal fuddy duddy insurance agent. I have a need for speed. I couldn't wait to get my license when I was 16. I have a very quick motorcycle, I race cars at places like Daytona and Watkins Glen. I had five car wrecks before I was 19-years-old. So, I both know what I'm talking about and I remember being in your shoes. I'm sharing this stuff to help you out, and hopefully it'll help in both keeping your insurance premium at a manageable price and keep you alive as well! Here goes:

  1. What ever happens is going to be your fault! There is a prejudice against young drivers, sorry but that's how the world works. If you are involved in an accident, you are more than likely going to be blamed. Everybody in your car could say you had the green light, but the middle aged person that hit you is going to get the benefit of the doubt and you will get the ticket! One reason to be extra careful.
  2. You will get pulled over before everyone else! A whole row of cars can be going the same speed and you will be the one pulled over. Again, I'm sorry, but that's the way it works. Double this if you are a cute girl, the day after your tag expires some cop is going to pull you over. It happened all the time to my daughters! If you do get a ticket don't try to hide it by not telling your parents and paying it your self. Tell your parents and call me, I might be able to help you out. If you pay it yourself your rates are probably going to go up and your parents will call me wanting to know why the rates went up. I will then tell them you got a ticket and stuff will hit the fan!
  3. You are an Inexperienced Driver--admit it! Yeah, I know you have had drivers ed and one year of a learners permit but it is not the same as years of experience. Your insurance premium is 3 times higher than an older person, but you are more than four times more likely to have an accident. The day I got my license I borrowed my Mom's old station wagon to go pick up my girlfriend and take a ride. With in a half hour I was going the wrong way on a one way street. I just had not been on that road and didn't know it was one way. You learn by mistakes but mistakes in a car are costly. BE CAREFUL!
  4. Watch out for everybody else! Ok, I have told you that you are not the best driver because you don't have experience, but there are people out there worse than a brand new driver! Here are some things to be on the look out for:
  • Big (Buicks, older Cadillacs, Lincolns, and Crown Victorias) cars where you can't see the drivers head! That means it is some person about 100-years-old and they can't see you! Give them plenty of room

  • Brake lights in front of you. First of all, give people plenty of room, you remember the rule, one car length for every 10 miles an hour. When you do that, people will pull in front of you, and now you've got to back up some more. Back to the original point, if the car in front of you has brake lights on you need have your foot on the brake pedal slowing down. I can't count the times I have heard “it wasn't my fault, they slammed on brakes in front of me.” Wrong! It was your fault, those brake lights told you they were braking, now you start braking.
  • Don't let somebody wave you through traffic! You know, you are trying to get out of a parking lot, turning left across traffic, and there is a line of cars stopped in the lane in front of you. The nice lady in the Buick (that her head doesn't come above the seat) stops early and waives you through. You are in a hurry so you happily go though,  and WAM, you get hit by a car coming down the other lane that you couldn't see because of Grandma's big Buick. Grandma wasn't looking back there and didn't know it was coming. I just look straight ahead in those situations or wave back at Grandma and motion here to go on.
  • On the interstate be very careful passing, people are using the cruise control and forget to look when they want to change lanes. Watch them as you are passing.

    1. Drinking! Ok, we all know you aren't supposed to be drinking, and I am sure you will not yield to peer pressure and try your first beer at a party. BUT IF YOU DO, don't make the problem worse by driving home. Remember the rule about getting pulled over? Yep, this is when you will get pulled over or worse, have an accident.
      Who Looks good in a Mug Shot?
      (Parents don't read this next part) Call your parents tell them you have a stomach virus and you can't drive home, get a ride with somebody else (who hasn't been drinking of course) have them pick you up. Anything is better than driving!
    2. CELL PHONES! Do I have to show you pictures of all the young people who have been killed because they were distracted by talking or TEXTING​? You might as well drink a case of beer and drive, it is that dangerous. Honestly, I don't even like using bluetooth. If I am having a conversation with someone else, it distracts me way more than if they are in the car with me. Put the cell phone where you can't reach it to remove the temptation. It's too easy to be at a stop light and decide to take a "selfie" or send a text. Next thing you know you have rear ended the person in front of you or veered out of the lane because you had to finish the text.
    3. Bad weather changes everything. If it is raining or snowing or there is ice on the road it makes everything worse. Again, I can't count the times I have heard “ I hydroplaned/slid on the ice/skidded on the wet pavement--it wasn't my fault.” Wrong, it is your fault and you get a ticket for DRIVING TOO FAST FOR CONDITIONS.
    4. This one is for PARENTS (kids don't read). Ok, you have given your kids a curfew? What do you do when they are 5 minutes late? Lower the boom because there is a zero tolerance policy at your house? NO! That trains them to drive like a bat out of a hot spot to get home to avoid the wrath of parents. Give them some tolerance, and when they get home late hug them and tell them how much you love them and they almost gave you a heart attack because you were worried sick! I find guilt is a better motivator! BY ALL MEANS, DON'T TEXT THEM WHEN THEY MIGHT BE IN THE CAR! And, set a good example by you not texting in the car.

So what is your reward for following these rules? MONEY! No, I'm not going to give you a reward but you won't be paying me as much money for your insurance. Even years from now, when you are out on your own, your driving record from now can haunt you. The cheaper your insurance is the more money you have to spend on fun stuff!

Hey, call me with questions!