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Don’t Make Me Pull A Judge Judy.

An Insurance Guy Needs The Info!


We want your first born. Seems that way, doesn’t it?

How much information does an insurance company need to insure you?

If you have considered alternatives to your current insurance program lately, you know the answer.

LOTS of info.

Is all of the information requested really necessary? Is it relevant to your situation?

If an agent or company is asking you for a piece of information, then I would say unequivocally, it’s pertinent.

I still scratch my head at how little information some prospective buyers are willing to provide to receive an insurance assessment and proposal. Note I didn’t say “quote”. There’s more to it than that. I assess and propose insurance programs accordingly. Just “getting a quote” is more akin to price-based shopping. That’s not my bag, and NOT why I am in this business. I am not an order taker.

Even as an agent, I do sometimes wonder about the relevance of certain information required by the insurance companies I represent. However, they make the rules. And those rules are heavily regulated and scrutinized by all state insurance departments.

An insurance company assumes your risk. Therefore, they have a legal right to ask those questions. It’s no different than applying for a loan or a mortgage. If you’ve ever been down that road, you know how much information you need to fork over. I empathize. No one likes spilling their guts about so much of their personal information.

But face the music. If you are going to obtain a PROPER insurance coverage comparison, be prepared to answer a LOT of questions. Some of them may seem personal. And they are. I’m sometimes asked, “What do they need THAT for?”. I always make my best attempt to answer this question. Or during a fact finding session, I’m told “That’s none of their business”. Well… to quote Austin Powers’ nemesis- “Throw me a bone here. NEED THE INFO.”

And be prepared to give out your social security number. This is used to run your credit score, one of many underwriting criteria which will have a bearing on your eligibility for coverage and the cost of a policy. However, IF you ever receive an unsolicited pitch to provide your confidential information from someone you don’t know or haven’t verified, then definitely do NOT provide any details!

Some companies do not require a social security number to run your credit score, but many do. If you are asked for it, you must provide it to continue the process with that entity. Any reputable agency will have a legally mandated privacy policy which addresses the usage and sharing parameters of your personal information, as well as disclosing how they protect that information. Feel free to ask them for a copy for your records BEFORE you provide any information if that eases your apprehension.

When you are asked questions about your current coverage, your “life situation”, and other factual data, be honest and as accurate as possible with your answers. Otherwise you could be in for a surprise later on when the company does follow up “fact checking” to verify the accuracy of the information you have provided.

The more questions asked and accurately answered, the better of you are in the long run. You’ll have less chance of an issue with acceptability, being misquoted, or coverage being disallowed or reduced at claim time.

Ever see Judge Judy? Ever see how she has to literally pull information out of her subjects? She’s very good at it. And why does she need to do that? To get to the point where she has the facts and can make an objective and informed judgment on the case she is hearing.

My job as an insurance agent is not dissimilar. And it is only when I have all the relevant facts that I can make an informed judgment about an appropriate insurance program for you.

When I ask you if you have a trampoline or a pit-bull, there’s a reason. If I find out about it later than sooner, the end result may not be nearly as pleasant. Yes, some insurance companies can insure you if you have a trampoline or a pit-bull. But your policy may very well be priced accordingly. However, you will then be assured the company knows you have those exposures and any resulting claim should not be jeopardized.

In fact, more and more companies are simply adding specific exclusions that deny coverage for certain exposures, such as… yes! Trampolines and certain dog breeds. And these exclusionary endorsements would apply after the fact as well. So even if you didn’t have a trampoline when you were initially insured, you may not have coverage if you choose to purchase one. This is another reason why it is always a good idea to use common sense and to call your agent when you have a “life-change” which could impact your insurance coverage.

I never take issue with client calling me regarding questions about their policy as they relate to a change in their circumstances. What is disconcerting is when a claim occurs relating to a new exposure I was not made aware of. If I know about new circumstances, I can address them. If not, and you have a claim, that’s when things can get messy.

It’s human nature to complain. And the one I hear so often is the old cliché-

“You don’t really know how good your insurance is until you need to use it”.

I suppose that holds some truth. BUT… Remember there is a correlation between full disclosure initially, AND through the life of your policy- and how well it will function for you.

So what’s my take-away here?

  • Next time you contact ANY agent or company for an insurance proposal, be patient and forthright. Remember you are not grocery shopping. You are purchasing a legal contract.
  • Withholding or falsifying information can have serious consequences, including insurance fraud which carries stiff legal penalties, including possible jail time. Don’t play the game.
  • Don’t cop an attitude and create a defensive posture. Remember the bigger picture. Full disclosure ultimately leads to a better experience if you have a claim. The more questions you are asked, the better the grade you should give that agent. And the more comfortable you will be with your ultimate decisions.

And with that I will leave you with one of my favorite Judge Judy quotes:

"I love the truth. If you don't tell me the truth, you're gonna be eating your shoes."

 

Brian Matthias

Matthias Insurance Agency Inc

www.matthiasinsure.com