Monday, September 24, 2007

Ten Most Asked Questions

Here you go: The most commonly asked insurance questions in the history of asking insurance questions:
Q: Can someone get a life insurance policy on me without my knowledge?
A: Anything under the sun is possible. In order to get a life insurance policy issued, a person should have:
1. An insurable interest in the insured (you’re financially impacted if someone dies)
2. A need for the insurance $$ amount requested (no $5 million polices on your kids, unless she’s Miley Cyrus)
3. Access to personal information IE DOB, SSN, address, medical history
4. Signature of the insured (if insured is an adult)
5. Cooperation from insured if insurer requires paramedic exam (blood, urine, saliva, med history) or a physical exam. The people performing the exams are required to check IDs.
In order to collect on the policy, the person would need:
1. Cooperation from family or the executor of the estate to get death certificates.
2. Be outside the contestability period of the policy (usually two years from policy issue date) to avoid the scrutiny of the insurance company.
In the US, there are around 1,500 - 2,000 life insurance companies and they all do business in a similar manner with small differences in underwriting. None of them would make a profit by paying death claims on fraudulently obtained policies; so safeguards are put in place to guard against deception.
Without a paramedic exam or physical, there is a limit on how much insurance you can purchase. The industry limit seems to be around $250,000. So purchasing a $1M life insurance policy without the insured’s knowledge would be a challenge requiring a good amount of deception and fraud at policy issue.
This limits the size and type of policy someone could purchase. Small policies (say less than $100,000 for a young person, $25,000 for an older person) get less scrutiny. Group policies require only a few questions, but again limit the death benefit that can be purchased (usually only spouses can be named to purchase 50% of employee’s death benefit).
So, my conclusion; unless you’re the target of a well thought out deception, you’re probably just paranoid or watch too much TV.
Q: My ______ (fill in the blank) died and we can’t find their life insurance policies. Where can I find this information?
A: There is not a central database of life insurance policies. I’ve written an article on searching for missing life policies: Sorry for your loss and good luck with your search.
Q: I need to file a claim against someone else’s policy. How do I find out who their insurer is?
A: A person or business’s insurance coverage is private information, so you can’t and you don’t.
Their insurer will not accept claims from you and in most cases will not even speak with you. If the other party refuses to file a claim or admit fault, you’ll need to involve your insurance company or take legal action. In the case of any legal action, I would recommend involving a lawyer.
Keep in mind your insurance covers you, their insurance covers them. If you have bodily injury or property damage and someone else is the proximate cause, you could file a claim with your insurance company and allow your insurer to subrogate the claim against their insurance company.
Q: What’s it like to work for _____(fill in the blank)? Is their training good? Will I really make $100K in my first year selling insurance?
A: There are a number of insurance companies who are always hiring sales agents, “account managers” or (my favorite) “manager trainees” :
Farmers, Met Life, State Farm, Allstate, Primerica, New York Life, United American. The list goes on. There's a reason why they’re always hiring: They wash out 85-95% of all their new agents within two years, 98-99% after 5 years. These are SALES jobs; you sell you eat, don’t sell don’t eat. Some will pay you a stipend or advance your commission if you’re not selling, but the bottom line is you have to sell, week in, week out or your butt is out in the street. Now there always seems to be 1 out of 100 people who thrives is sales; kid natural who makes $100K her first year. If you’re one of these people, God has blessed you; may he continue to do so. Most other successful sales people just work hard and persevere long enough until they succeed. Average income for a first year sales agent? 30K if you work really hard and get a little lucky.
My advice: if you’re really interested in the industry, get a job working for a successful agent with a good reputation in the business and learn the ropes. When you’re ready, look for a good situation working for yourself selling what you like to sell.
See for a rundown on commissions earned and learn how big you’ll have to be in order to survive the business.
Q: A big expensive repair need to be done to my house, will my homeowners insurance cover it?
A: Homeowners insurance covers
unexpected occurrences. Policies and coverage vary by state and policy, but repairs to a house are usually not covered unless the damage was caused by a covered risk.
Typically excluded items: earth movement, settling, faulty material, faulty workmanship, tree roots, old age & wear and tear, insect, vermin and pet damage.
So unless the proximate cause was something covered: fire, wind, falling objects, vehicle damage, building collapse, broken pipes you have no coverage. Water backup is an endorsement that usually has to be added to a policy; don’t have it, no coverage. If you call the insurance company claims center, they will log your call and start the count on number of claims you’ve filed in the past 5 years. Chances are 2 claims in three years will trigger a cancelation even if 0 dollars are paid on one claim. So you may want to hypothetically discuss this claim with YOUR AGENT.
See more about Homeowners coverage at:

Tune in next week for questions 6 - 10

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

SR22 - What is it?

Here's a question insurance agents hear week in and week out..can you sell me SR22 insurance? I'm here to clear up some of the confusion concerning the SR22 and what states require to keep people driving legally.

An SR22 is a document required as proof of financial responsibility by the court or under state law for persons convicted of certain traffic violations. The SR22 is not insurance, it is a certification that an auto insurance policy is in effect for a certain individual. This is the legal proof that courts need to show someone is complying with state financial responsibility laws. Insurers are allowed to charge a reasonable processing fee for filing SR22s. Insurers are not required to provide SR22s or may elect to offer them in one state and not another.

Definition of an SR-22 from the Car Insurance Learning Center:" SR-22 is a form which must be filed by the insurance company stating that auto liability insurance (or bonding in Ohio) is in effect for a particular individual. Required when insurance is provided to an individual who was in an accident or was convicted of a traffic offense and was unable to show financial responsibility. Each state has different variations of this form and requirements."

Long story short, someone got caught driving without insurance or the courts suspect they are or will be based on poor behavior (DUIs, reckless driving) .

SR22s are state specific and the requirements in one state may not apply in another state. You can expect an SR22 or financial responsibility in every state except for these exceptions.

Delaware, Kentucky, Minnesota, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Pennsylvania don't require SR22s, but if you have an SR22 and then move to one of these states, you must continue to meet the requirements of the SR22 state where the offense was committed.

New York and North Carolina don't require SR22 filings, and most companies don't offer out-of-state SR22 filings for policies in these states.

If you currently carry an SR22 in one state but move to another state, you must fulfill the SR22 filing period for your former state, even though you no longer reside there. Also, your insurance policy for your new state must have liability limits which meet the minimums required by law in your former (SR22) state. You can only get an SR-2 form from an insurance company that is filed with the state to issue SR22s.

SR22a forms: Similar to an SR22; there are used in Georgia, Texas and Missouri. In Georgia & Texas these are certifications used for repeat violators of financial responsibility laws. SR22a in GA & TX must be paid in guaranteed funds and policies must be paid in full for a 6 month term. In Missouri, SR22a are used for policies where drivers on a policy are restricted to only driving certain cars.

SR22 bonding: Very common in Ohio and other states that allow bonding in lieu of insurance. Drivers are told by the courts to secure a SR22 bond, go to an agency, ask for a SR22 bond and that's what they get, a bond. It's important to note the difference between a insurance policy and a bond; when an at-fault accident occurs, the insurance policy will absorb the cost, the bond will pay the cost and then request repayment from the bond holder. Sort of like a line of credit for the driver that must be repaid. This comes as quite a shock to most drivers who think they're insured.

SR26 forms: A filing done by insurance companies to cancel a SR22 or SR22a. Most states require notice in advance (usually 10 days) when a SR22 is being canceled. To avoid mix ups in SR22/SR26 filings, it a GOOD idea to get your insurance bills paid ON TIME.