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BLOG | Insurance Insights: An Important Look at the Top Five Services That Your Insurance Broker Can Provide

By Ken Fuirst and Jason Schiciano, Levitt-Fuirst Insurance

(TARRYTOWN) As the options to purchase insurance online expand beyond just personal home and auto insurance, and direct insurance carriers (those that do not sell insurance through brokers) continue their 24/7 advertising barrage, it’s a fair question to ask: “Why do I need an insurance broker?”

In an increasingly automated, self-service world, we are conditioned to demand results with a few clicks, or to expect that we can “save 15 percent” with a “15-minute phone call,” these options are now available to those seeking either personal or commercial insurance.

If you haven’t made the 15-minute call, hold the phone. If you haven’t clicked your way into an insurance policy, take your hand off the mouse. If you’ve already done either of these things, read-on anyway – you may decide to reconsider your insurance procurement method.

Insurance purchased through direct carriers can sometimes be less expensive, but not always. Often, when insurance via a direct carrier is less expensive, there are reasons: inferior coverages, hidden exclusions, or lack of support when you really need it (such as following a major claim).

Online insurance purchase options may offer an icon to scroll over revealing a few quick notes on a topic; direct carriers may provide 800 numbers where call-center agents respond with help from scripts; and, of course, you can always Google your way to becoming an insurance expert. But, insurance obtained through a qualified insurance broker may be the prudent choice. The following are the Top Five Services that an insurance broker can provide:

Key Details

Number Five – Analyzing your policy deductibles. Often, property and auto insurance policyholders take comfort in a low deductible, reasoning that “I pay a lot for insurance every year; if I have a loss, I want to be able to make a claim.” But, of course, more frequent claims can increase premiums over the long-term, and higher deductibles result in lower premiums. Deductible decisions made online, or during a quick call with a direct carrier’s agent, often focus only on the immediate premium savings; but there are other factors to consider. A broker can help analyze the pros-and-cons of deductible changes over the longer-term, so that you can make an informed, educated decision on which deductible levels are best.

Number Four – Policy Coordination. Does your business have its liability insurance placed through Progressive, and its auto insurance through Geico? Do you have your home and autos in New York insured with Allstate, while your weekend condo in another state is insured with USAA? Insurance through multiple direct carriers can lead to inconsistencies from one policy to the next, such as: different liability coverage limits on vehicles, or different coverages and deductibles for similar types of properties. More importantly, dealing with multiple direct carriers can lead to insurance coverage gaps, such as homes, autos, or buildings insured by one carrier not being scheduled to the umbrella placed with another direct carrier, or failure of either carrier to insure your valuable articles, such as jewelry. A broker can help coordinate all your business or personal insurance coverages to minimize the possibility of duplicate coverage overlaps, inconsistent terms from one policy to the next, and/or coverage gaps.

Number Three – Guidance on coverages and limits. Did a direct carrier sell your business liability and workers compensation insurance policies, but failed to recommend employment practices and cyber liability? Did you “save 15 percent” online by unknowingly opting for lower auto liability limits? A broker that takes the time to understand your business and personal assets and exposures can more effectively guide you to the right types of policies and amounts of insurance.

Number Two – Explaining Policy Exclusions. All policies contain standard exclusions that are consistent from one carrier to the next. Some policies can also include special exclusions that prevent coverage for the very types of insurance claims that you would expect to be covered. The severity of these exclusions can be downplayed by a direct carrier agent, or completely overlooked if you buy online. If you’re a contractor in New York, and you are required to sign agreements to provide indemnification and additional insured status to your clients, you may be surprised to learn that your “great deal” liability policy excludes liability claims for injuries to your workers; so if one of your workers falls from a ladder, and files a “Scaffold Law” lawsuit against your client, your company would be forced to pay for the client’s legal fees and any judgment/settlement out-of-pocket. A broker can help identify unusual hidden exclusions, explain potential impacts, and offer policies with more comprehensive coverage.

Number One – Facilitate Claim Resolution. No one wants to suffer a fire at their home or business or get into an auto accident. But, those unfortunate events are why you pay money for insurance, every year. We frequently get calls from distraught individuals or business owners, after they’ve been through a disastrous insurance claim with their direct insurance carrier. Often, the carrier’s claim response was poor, and they were unable to connect with a representative that could expedite the process, or the carrier declined all or a portion of the claim without providing a reasonable explanation. A broker can be a reliable source of information and your best advocate, when you need your insurance to be there for you, following an accident or loss.

To take advantage of the services a broker can provide, which you might not be receiving from your direct carrier, call your broker to start a conversation about one or more of these Top Five Topics, or contact Levitt-Fuirst Insurance at (914) 457-4200.

Editor’s Note: Levitt-Fuirst Insurance is the Insurance Manager for The Builders Institute (BI)/Building and Realty Institute (BRI) of Westchester and the Mid-Hudson Region. Ken Fuirst and Jason Schiciano are Co-Presidents of the company. The firm is based in Tarrytown.

“A broker can be a reliable source of information and your best advocate, when you need your insurance to be there for you, following an accident or a loss.”

This article was featured in the January/February 2024 edition of IMPACT newspaper (PDF.)

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