Does it matter what insurance company you do business with?

As an independent agency, we have many options and companies to work with.  Ultimately, this provides a great benefit to our customers – one advisor/professional to work with who has dozens of companies to choose from to find the best coverage and rates for you.  First, the customer needs to decide what is most important to them when choosing an insurance company.  Some factors to consider are as follows:

  1. Claims Service – Yes, different companies have different levels of claim service.  Some companies make the process very easy and provide great support during the process; however, other companies pay claims begrudgingly and can make the process painful.  This is one of our highest priorities when choosing a market for you because a successful claim settlement equals a happy customer.

  2. Price – Price is a dominant force in our industry and is usually a consumer’s top concern.  Price does matter but it is important to verify that other factors are not being omitted to create a lower price – specifically coverage (amongst others).

  3. Coverage Options – Do you have a unique risk exposure? Does the company you have your insurance with offer all the coverage you need?  These are important questions to consider when electing to place business with a company.

  4. Deductible Options – Many companies are increasing home deductibles and limiting deductible options.  If the company you’re with doesn’t have a suitable deductible for you, it may be worthwhile to ask your insurance advisor to explore other options.

  5. Size & Financial Stability – As an independent agency, we represent small, local mutual companies to Fortune 100 companies.  Size does matter – to a point.  It’s important that the company you’re with has enough capital surplus to cover any catastrophic events that may occur.  Furthermore, it’s important that the company allocates enough resources to critical functions of the company (i.e. customer service/support, claims, underwriting, etc.).  With that said, bigger does not always mean better.  We represent some regional companies that are AM Best A+ rated (financially stable) and provide good service, claims service, and pricing (if not better).

As always, it’s important to discuss these factors and any other factors that may apply to you with your insurance advisor to provide the best fit for you.  Every individual and family is different and subsequently, has different needs.  As an independent insurance agency, we feel that our flexibility and options provides a massive competitive advantage and most importantly, the best options for you.

Say Goodbye to 40 and 60 watt bulbs in 2014

As of January 1, 2014, it will be ‘lights-out’ for forty watt and 60 watt light bulbs. It is now illegal to either manufacture or import these light bulbs – which are still common in many households. Per the article cited below, about 50% of households still use these old-fashioned light bulbs. Retailers will be allowed to sell their remaining stock; however, once they are gone – they will be gone for good. Beginning in 2012, 100 watt light bulbs were phased out and seventy-five watt light bulbs followed in 2013.

The mandate is a byproduct of the Energy and Independence Security Act, signed by President Bush in 2007. These old, incandescent light bulbs are highly inefficient – only about 10% of their energy is converted to light, the rest being lost as heat.

Once the nation’s four billion light sockets are replaced with higher efficiency light bulbs, a mere $13 billion will be saved by consumers and thirty large coal-burning power plants worth of electricity per year. How much money does this save you? For every incandescent light bulb that is replaced with a CFL (compact fluorescent light), you will save about $50 per bulb over their expected life. Although LED light bulbs are pricier with their up-front costs ($10 per bulb for their 60-watt equivalent), consumers are expected to save between $100 and $150.

To avoid common complaints from many individuals who have already converted, follow these helpful tips:

  • Don’t inadvertently buy a bulb that’s too bright. New bulbs are measured in lumens, not watts, which can be confusing. A 10-watt LED is as bright as a 60-watt incandescent, so if you purchase a 19-watt LED for a small accent light, it will seem glaring. The NRDC has a useful chart showing the light equivalences of various bulbs.
  • Choose different types of bulbs for different purposes. Meeker uses LEDs and CFLs to light hallways, stairwells, and basements, and for spotlighting objects. For living spaces, he prefers halogen incandescent bulbs. He says they are a great substitute for the old bulbs, especially if you use them on a dimmer.
  • If you want to use CFLs, choose the right color. Most people prefer the ones labeled “warm.” The bulbs that are labeled “daylight” are bluish.
  • Bring the bulb you want to replace to the store so you can find an equivalent that is the correct size and shape.
  • The new bulbs don’t work in recessed can lighting. You will still need to buy reflector bulbs, which are not subject to the same regulations.
  • If you have dimmers, chose a halogen incandescent bulb or LED. Most CFLs do not work with dimmer sockets.

While change is always tough – this one has all the properties of a win-win situation: consumers save money on their electricity bills and each household becomes less energy dependent. As always, knowledge is power and these helpful hints should make this transition as seamless as possible.

Information Courtesy of the following article:

Casualty Rates Expected to Rise, per Property & Casualty 360

A recent article in the February 2013 issue of Property Casualty 360 magazine outlined projections for casualty rates for the remainder of 2013.  For those that are unaware, casualty insurance is often equated to liability insurance but is insurance not directly concerned with life, health, or property insurance.  Casualty rates climbed during the fourth quarter of 2012 and shockingly, are expected to increase during 2013.

A recent report from the brokerage, Marsh, focused on four U.S. Casualty lines of business:  General Liability, Workers’ Compensation, Auto Liability, and Umbrella/Excess Casualty.


  • 56% of clients experienced increase in rates
  • 29% experienced no change in rates
  • Average increase in rate was 4.9%

General Liability:

  • 54% of clients experienced increase in rates
  • 18% experience no change in rates
  • Average rate increase was 2.1%
  • Clients with superior loss history, good loss control measures, and lower exposures were able to secure rate decreases at renewal.
  • Underwriting scrutiny continued to increase = longer processing times

Workers’ Compensation:

  • 51% of clients experienced rate increases
  • 16% experience no change in rates
  • Average rate increase was 2.9%
  • Marsh reports in its study that this line of business has been operating at a “historically unprofitable level for insurers”.  Insurers will look to become more profitable via rate increases and higher retentions
  • Employers with good loss control programs tend to be better protected from rate increases

Auto Liability:

  • Rates were stable throughout 2012; however, Q4 experienced the most clients that experienced rate increases at 47%
  • 24% experienced no change in rates
  • Insurers sought rate increases for this line; but typically agreed to on rates that were lower than the original quote

The insurance rates that have grabbed the headlines had been property rates – due to the increased weather activity, deductible requirements, and other underwriting changes by companies.  However, it’s important to note that casualty rates continue to rise – especially in workers’ compensation.  Additionally, it’s is of particular interest to note that most insurers are willing to write policies at a lower rate if the client agrees to implement loss control measures and has a favorable loss history.

It’s important to remember these studies when you are reviewing your renewal policies this coming year.  As always, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!