Car Insurance Companies – They Know More Than You Think

When you apply for auto insurance, even when getting an online quote, you’d be surprised by the amount of information the insurance companies go through before telling you how much your premiums will be!

What are They Looking For?

The number one thing that insurers always look for is a clean driving record.  They will investigate your record in the state you’re living in as well as every other state in the country via a central database.  They will verify your birth date and compare it to other personal information to confirm that you are who you say.  They will dig into your driving records everyplace you’ve been issued a driver’s license and also cross-index other insurance records.  All this can take place in just a few minutes-or seconds, depending on the speed of their computers!

But that’s not all that insurance companies are looking for; you’ll also find that they thoroughly check out your credit report.

Why Should They Care About My Credit Score?

Your mother or grandmother may have told you that she can look at your friends and see your future.  Well, insurance companies can look at your credit score and see future!  Like the friends you choose can show your character, your credit score indicates your sense of personal responsibility. 

Let’s say that you’ve made some mistakes in the past and your credit score isn’t so great.  You’ve maxed out your credit cards during a rough patch and are paying them off with minimum payments.  You have no savings, a couple of late payments on record and your credit score is in the low 600’s.  This tells the insurance company that you don’t think about the future much and probably don’t take precautions against unexpected financial downturns.  You’re someone who is living in the present and not looking towards the future.  Is that accurate?

Whether that’s a true picture of someone with that credit score and history, that’s what the insurance companies see and what their statistics tell them is a logical conclusion.  Their data also tells them that a person with such a low score also has a high risk score-they are more likely to make a claim than someone with a higher credit score. 

Don’t Ask for Trouble 

Keep an eye on your credit report and make sure that it is accurate, checking it at least once annually.  Improve it as much as possible, paying more than minimum payments and specifying that the extra go toward the principle.  You’ll be rid of credit card debt in half the time if you pay in that manner and it will look good on your credit report. 

Don’t try to toggle your risk factor by omitting details about your driving record!  If you leave out citations or convictions on your application or deny that they exist, you could be setting yourself up for a fraud charge.  Even if you aren’t charged with trying to defraud the insurance company, it will be on your record for every other insurer to see. 

In short, be frugal and honest!  Good money management and an application that is factual will definitely save you money on your auto insurance. 

Top Property and Casualty Insurance Companies

The property & casualty insurance industry today faces a lot of challenges including market pressures, technology, rising claim cost, expense management, legislation, compliance and more. The top property and casualty insurance companies have to take these challenges in stride. They often do things with a different approach to set themselves apart from the competition.

These top performing companies in particular maintain efficient operating models; they meet the needs of their clients and successfully execute their business strategy. There are some benchmark practices that set apart the top performing companies from the rest of the industry.

Operational Efficiency

Today companies must manage significant changes in workloads and workflows in all areas of their organization as a result of technological advances and changing market conditions. The top property & casualty insurance companies have about 19% fewer employees when measured against premiums written. Also web-based technology, enterprise content management, predictive modeling have significantly impacted on operating models.

The ability to switch to new technology has provided significant savings in expense and a more efficient workforce. For instance, imaging and automated workflow has provided the companies the opportunity to centralize the back office operations while still keeping the customer-facing activities in the field. They have also succeeded in maintaining a staff to management ratio of 6.8 to 1, in comparison to 5.3 to 1, on the average. This difference in staff to management equals a savings of nearly $2,200 per employee, on the average.

Customer Focus

Most often, when companies begin to experience increasing demands from their clients, it is easy for them to get lost in the myriad of request and possibly lose focus on the customers. Customer services have gone beyond just servicing the policy holders. Insurance firms know that they have a lot of customers to support both internal and external.

The top companies consciously service all the customers, including the policy holders, employees, agents and outside service partners. Because they believe with superior customer service and ease of doing business, customer loyalty and retention will be improved significantly.

Strategic Execution

Companies that want to remain competitive must clearly understand their core competencies with which to develop and execute their corporate strategy. The top property & casualty insurance companies always achieve superior results through the combination of effective distribution channels, product focus, technology and strong market knowledge within their target areas. Every company that has been able to quickly capitalize on these strengths will always have a tremendous competitive edge.

Based on the above benchmarks, some top performing property and casualty insurance companies are as follows:

  • Accident Fund
  • Acuity
  • Amerisure Companies
  • ANPAC
  • California State Automobile Association
  • Canal Insurance Group
  • Chubb Group
  • GEICO
  • Germania Insurance Group
  • Grange Mutual Casualty Group

When you need the services of a top property and casualty insurance firm, always make sure that they satisfy these fundamental benchmarks, and by so doing you will be guaranteed a great service. The insurance industry and their services are even more needed in the 21st century than ever because our society today is plagued with so many dangers and uncertainties, hence the increasing need for insurance.

Vehicle Insurance Fraud in Russia Affects Both Insurance Companies and Their Customers

Today car owners in Russia are facing an unusual and ridiculous problem, massively. It often occurs that owners cannot obtain an insurance coverage for their cars because of the shortage of blank contract forms, as insurance companies’ managers are telling them. Such cases were completely unknown just three years ago. Russian lawyers community is investigating this problematic situation which affects the growth of Russian vehicle insurance segment.

Such shortages of blank forms are usually occurring in case one is trying to get a minimum compulsory third-party liability insurance (or OSAGO) contract. So what could cause the so-called ‘shortage’ of blank forms for this type of insurance contract? It appears that it is not the fault of insurance companies’ printers; the reason is the greed of insurance companies which have developed a peculiar ‘marketing scheme’. They are taking advantage of the problems of car owners who are obliged to obtain this insurance according to the law.

So, the shortage of blank forms of OSAGO insurance contracts is being created in purpose. Insurance companies are taking this step in order to boost sales of other their products and services. Particularly, when a customer comes to an insurance company wishing to get an OSAGO contract, he or she is then proposed to sign a life, health or property insurance contract as well. And in case the customer refuses from this additional service, company’s managers say that there are no blank forms for OSAGO contracts. The customer cannot verify this statement of course and has either to agree getting this extra insurance service or just leave.

Basically, in such a situation car owners can complain to the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service of Russia, the Central Bank of Russia or to the Russian Association of Motor Insurers. But practice shows that such complaints do not help much: the only result you can get is a formal report from a controller about an inspection that was made in the company and about the lack of law breaches in this company’s actions. Consequently people are turning to insurance lawyers in Russia more and more often.

Still, there is an option. In fact, the service of vehicle insurance (including OSAGO contracts) is a public agreement according to the Article #426 of the Civil Code of Russian Federation and therefore an insurance company does not have a right to refuse this service to a customer. It does not have a right to force a person to acquire extra services prior to getting an OSAGO contract as well.

In case you have faced such an illegal refusal from corporate insurance manager, you need to write down a formal request to sign an OSAGO contract on paper. You should attach copies of all necessary documents to it, provide your phone number and register it in the insurance company’s branch office (making sure it is sealed). Most probably, in such a case tomorrow they will call you and propose to come again to their office to sign the insurance contract without persuading you to accept any extra conditions.

Now let us investigate the situation with Russian insurance companies refusing to sign third party liability (usually shortened as KASKO) contracts.

Russian insurance companies are having certain problems in this sphere themselves. Central offices are cancelling KASKO services in regional branch offices because of drastic growth of customer fraud which economic security services of branch offices are failing to mitigate.

The reason is that the number of insurance fraud ‘business’ schemes which include acquiring an insurance contract for an expensive car and then doing purposeful damage to it (such as cutting the upholstery, making scratches or fissures on the glass) has grown several times during the last two years. Thus, a car owner can receive the compensation from the insurer which is calculated based upon official car dealers’ prices for repair parts. At the same time, the damaged car would be actually repaired at a usual low-cost repair shop.

Flaws in Russian insurance legislation result in such fraud schemes being very profitable for those who choose this kind of ‘business’. According to information received by Russian lawyers during their professional activities, such schemes are now increasingly used by people who were not involved in fraud schemes earlier.

Economic security departments of insurance companies cannot effectively counter such fraud attempts because they do not have any legal means to perform deep investigations. All they can do is to recommend refusing such claims. But sometimes it makes the situation even worse for an insurer when a car owner whose claim was refused wins this case in a court and receives a sum even bigger than was claimed initially.

The emerging wave of such fabricated insurance claims in Russia has urged many insurance companies to stop providing the service of KASKO insurance and even to quit the Russian insurance market at all. The major part of Russian-based insurance companies used to have the vehicle insurance services as their primary source of income and did not completely realize how many risks are there in this niche; so now these businesses are having a hard time.

So here is an advice for car owners willing to get a vehicle insurance contract in Russia from Russian insurance lawyers. It is better to be very careful when choosing an insurance provider: in case of this company’s bankruptcy you would not be able to claim your payment via the Russian Association of Motor Insurers as this organization can only help to compensate losses by OSAGO contracts. Therefore, you would have register as a creditor in the formal bankruptcy procedure, and the more creditors there would be, the smaller chances of getting some compensation you would have.

What Does a Life Insurance Company Rating Mean?

Most people, comfortable with their own sense of immortality, might look to a Life Insurance Company rating as an indication of the lowest premiums for x amount of Life Insurance. A bit more important is the Company’s financial stability and its ability to pay its claims.

When you are shopping for Life Insurance and feel all proud of yourself for being responsible and taking care of the risk management portion of your long term financial planning process, it is easy to concentrate solely on the cost of premiums. After all, most people are expecting to lost their wager with the Insurance Company and are getting Insurance for the “what if” and not the “when.”

Yet, although comparative premiums play a part in the Life Insurance Company rating, financial stability is a more important consideration. If an Insurance Agent offered you a million dollar term policy for a couple of cents a year, it might seem like a very, very good deal. Yet, if the Company has folded up shop and moved to Central America when your beneficiaries come looking for their payout, it was really a wasted couple of cents.

In the world of permanent Life Insurance and the combination of Life Insurance with savings and investment, financial stability and a good track record in selecting and managing your investment are the factors that constitute a good Insurance Company Rating. The ratings and evaluations of any single Company are subject to change during the life of your policy. The need to understand ratings and to follow them closely does not end when the policy is purchased.

There are several reputable Rating services and they present their ratings online, so it is easy to obtain them. In addition, the Insurance regulatory agencies of most States can provide additional information on Company performance. The Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA) provides a Seal of Approval to Companies with ethical standards and a good performance records.

Remember, the Life Insurance Company Rating is a combination of a number of factors. These include competitive rate comparisons, but more important are the ratings that indicate long term financial stability and a good performance and investment track record. The ratings are tools that can be used to make the important choices involved in the selection of the best Company for your Insurance needs. Make sure you use them and do not be afraid to discuss them and their meaning with your Insurance Agent.