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Getting the right amount of coverage is important, but it’s just as important to place your business with the right carrier. Here’s how to separate the great from the rest.
It’s licensed in your state. Only do business with a carrier that’s licensed to sell insurance where you reside. This enables you to seek assistance from your state’s insurance department if you have problems. The insurance department’s website should have a list of licensed insurers, but if not, a call to the agency will get you the information you need.
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It is financially healthy. An insurer that’s in poor financial shape may not have the resources to pay your claim. Standard & Poor’s (spratings.com), A.M. Best (ambest.com), Fitch (fitchratings.com) and Moody’s (moodys.com) all evaluate and report on the strength of insurance companies, though these ratings aren’t always easy to find on their websites. If you are considering a lesser-known provider, experts recommend you consult ratings from at least two agencies before saying yes.
It has a low rate of justified complaints. The website of your state’s insurance department should offer a report that gives the number of justified complaints received by insurance carriers. This report typically provides a “complaint ratio” that compares the number of justified complaints with the company’s total amount of business in the state. You can also find an insurance company’s complaint ratio by visiting naic.org, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners website, and clicking on Consumer Information Source. Look for a carrier with a relatively low complaint ratio.
It’s easy to contact. You want an insurer that you can contact in all circumstances. If you find yourself on hold for a long time or face other difficulties when shopping for a carrier, there’s a good chance you’ll face similar problems — or worse ones — as a customer. Choose a carrier that’s easy to reach and pleasant to deal with.