Your home is the more than likely the biggest personal investment you’ll ever make. Homeowner’s insurance protects that investment. Sure, you want to find the cheapest homeowners policy out there, but buying coverage based on price alone can be a big mistake. If you ever have to file a claim, you’ll want to be sure you’ve picked an insurer who will come through with a check and great customer service. Here are some tips to help you know what to look for when shopping for a homeowner’s insurance provider.
Financial stability is the most important criterion when selecting any type of insurance company. Fortunately, this is one of the easiest things to learn. Services like A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, Fitch and Moody’s all have websites that provide reputable, easily understood financial ratings for nearly every insurance provider out there. Basic information is provided free of charge to consumers.
Check out the websites of the various providers you’re considering for homeowners insurance coverage. Can you easily find the information you’re looking for? Are there educational tools to help you learn more about insurance coverage? Are you offered a variety of contact methods including a 24-hour 800 number, email and snail-mail address? Do they provide convenient, time-saving online functions like online claim filing, online or automatic payment options and other account management tools?
What kind of reputations do the companies on your homeowner’s insurance short-list have for customer service? JD Powers is a reliable source for evaluating customer service on a number of criteria. They routinely poll real people and publish the survey results. Among the criteria measured are overall customer satisfaction, types of coverage offered, billing flexibility, prompt claims handling, accessibility and price. No one company is going to score aces across the board, but a company that scores above average on the
things that matter to you is probably one you’ll be happiest with.
Insurance is many ways a commodity; there’s not a lot of difference between basic homeowner’s insurance policies. What sets one company apart from another is the quality of the customer experience and in an effort to distinguish themselves from competitors, insurance companies are increasingly focusing on improving their customer service. A survey conducted by Deloitte recently revealed that 40% of homeowner’s insurance customers comparison shop at policy renewal time. Your insurance company has a vested interest in retaining you, so don’t hesitate to voice your concerns and needs. If you’re not satisfied with the response, shop around.