Are you prepared? I don't think most people worry about a hurricane until the National Hurricane Center starts to discuss that a storm is heading our way. That will give you maybe 5 days prior notice before having to evacuate. Is that enough time to prepare? I would venture to say that it is woefully too little time to get your affairs in order. Here are some things to consider?
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The most effective way to get the best rates for a home insurance policy is to use an independent insurance agency like Triest. You're able to get rates from more than one insurance company by talking to one of our representatives. The least efficient is to call an insurance agency that only offers one insurance company. Makes sense? Yes! Triest has more choices. Triest has more ways to save.
If you call us now for a home insurance quote (South Carolina) then we'll send you a $10 Starbucks card to say thank you. Best of all, if you let Triest place your home insurance with one of our insurance companies, you'll get the maximum savings!
HURRY! Get a FREE $10 Starbucks Gift Card from Triest Agency when you let Triest quote a South Carolina homeowners insurance policy for your home!!! Limit one (1) Starbucks card per location quoted. Limit three per household. Starbucks is a registered trademark of Starbucks. Triest Agency is not affiliated with Starbucks and this offer can can discontinued at any time. No purchase necessary.
Since I started in the business world as a banker, I have been an advocate of level term life insurance. Back in the early 1980's interest rates were sky high and people were shying away from buying whole life insurance. It just didn't provide the rate of return found with even buying a certificate of deposit at a bank. In July of 1984, you could get a one year bank CD paying 11%. The concept of buying a whole life insurance policy was waning. People would rather put their extra money in another sound and safe instrument, the bank CD.. The other problem with old whole life insurance was the death benefit. The policies were sold to capitalize on savings for retirement and the death benefits were small. A concept that I don't understand to this day. Isn't the purpose of life insurance to provide a death benefit that is sufficient to the needs of the beneficiary? These winds of change brought about a concept of "buy term and invest the difference" that was touted by a football coach, A.L. Williams of Georgia. Mr. Williams' father passed away and he was incensed the his mother received such a low death benefit from his father's life insurance. It wasn't what he thought would be given to his mother and not enough for her with the loss of his father. He started selling term life insurance with a company called MILICO and told people to put the extra money that they would have used for the whole life plan in a CD or investment. The logic was that you could buy a high death benefit with term life insurance which would be much more helpful to the beneficiary than a small insufficient benefit from whole life and put the money that would have been invested in a whole life plan into your own investments. All of that made sense to many people and Mr. Williams dropped out of coaching and started the A.L. Williams company. Which coincidently did business with the bank where I was a commercial banker.
The life insurance industry shot back with a new product called universal life insurance which would marry the best of term life with a flexible investment of savings into one life insurance policy. With interest rates sky high, this made sense. Well, we all know what happened to interest rates. They dropped and dropped and dropped where today, a 1 year bank CD only pays 1.25% instead of 11% back in 1984. Because of this drop the amount earned in the new universal life insurance policies also dropped which caused some serious problems. I'll have to explain these problems in another post. The life insurance industry did improve the universal life insurance policy and provided for guarantees that the policies would continue to provide the death benefit regardless of the policies internal rate of return.
The term life insurance policy also improved and rates came down. Term life insurance that once only was guaranteed for 10 years stretched to 20 years and then 30 years. This was a game changer for me and many people including consumer advocates. To me the purpose of life insurance is to protect the beneficiary and not to be an investment. I could debate this with anyone who believes otherwise and there are many. I look at life insurance protection no different than how I insure someone's house. When you write a homeowner's insurance policy, we first look at the amount of insurance needed to replace the dwelling. If the home will cost $300,000 to replace if destroyed then we insure it for $300,000 (Note that this applies to policies with replacement cost coverage. There are some home policies the provide for replacement cost less depreciation). Writing the same house for only $50,000 coverage is negligent. With life insurance, there is a method to determine the amount of death benefit. This is not a guess or something that is arbitrary. That's foolish and negligent. You need to look at the needs of the beneficiary. The beneficiary will use the proceeds upon the insured's death to payoff a mortgage; provide income; pay for education expenses; buy a business or a myriad of reasons. There is a rule of thumb used in the term life business to determine the death benefit but it is extremely crude. Many people will buy 10 times the annual income of the insured. So a spouse making $100,000 a year would buy a $1,000,000 policy. Definitely not scientific to determine the amount of life insurance coverage needed. We recommend having a financial plan developed by a Certified Financial Planner who will determine the amount of coverage needed. That's really no different than using a licensed real estate appraiser to determine the replacement cost of a house or building.
Term life insurance is the best value for the money. It doesn't work for everyone but it does provide a sound and sensible amount of coverage for the lowest premium. If you would like to discuss life insurance alternatives, please call me at 843-556-6232 ext 000. Nobody in Charleston has as much experience and companies available than me. I do take pride in this expertise that I've earned from over 30 years.
843-556-6232 ext 000
There are independent rating companies that evaluate the financial position of insurance companies and give them a rating based on their size and financial health. There are small insurance companies that have high ratings and even large insurance companies with less than stelar ratings. How do you find the rating of an insurance company? One way is to go to www.ambest.com or www.demotech.com. Both of these companies rate insurance companies.
At Triest Agency we only want to work with insurance carriers that have an A rating and you should too. The only exception is an insurance company that provides flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. In this case, they have no direct exposure since the claims are paid out of this government program. But if you buy a homeowners insurance policy, ask the agent for the rating of that company. There are so many fine companies that don't have a household name and it's not hard to find out if they're capable of insuring your house, business, car....
I would be suspicious of these web sites that you can google for the "highest rated homeowners insurance company" in an area. When I did a Google search for the "best rated insurance companies" the search results included "Top 10 Insurance Companies", "Best and Worst Insurance companies", and "Best and Worst Home Insurance companies". There is nothing quantitative or truly valid to evaluate the insurance companies. Most are just marketing gimmicks to attack shoppers. The only way to get a true evaluation of the financial health of an insurance company is to use an independent rating agency like AM Best or Demotech. These companies have analyst that dig into the financial health of the insurance company. The best insurance company to me is one that has the capital to pay claims.
You know how your real estate agent; neighbor or friend told you that you don't live in a flood zone. Well, throw that out the window. They don't know what they're talking about. If you live in the lowcountry, then you're living in "low" land. Most of you live in a flood zone. If you live in the midlands or upstate and didn't think you lived in a flood zone but saw the light when we had the torrential rains in 2015, you're in a flood zone.
Are you in a special flood hazard zone? If you have a mortgage then if you live in a special flood hazard zone then you have to buy a flood policy. But the government doesn't mandate purchasing flood insurance if you're in a flood hazard zone that is not deemed "special". A real play on words. And a tragic communications error on the part of the national flood insurance program as designed by Congress. For all of you in those flood zones that aren't special, you can still flood. Hear it one more time. YOU CAN FLOOD and YOU CAN BUY FLOOD INSURANCE. YOU CAN BUY FLOOD INSURANCE. When can you buy it?
There is a 30 day waiting period before flood insurance is effective so don't wait until the next hurricane is coming our way to call for a policy. Talk to Triest Agency now. Let us lookup your house on the flood maps and give you a quote.
Were you prepared with your insurance coverages?
In my 30 plus years and so many storms, hurricanes and evacuations, I am amazed at how people procrastinate when preparing for insurance. We, as agents beg our clients to meet with us to talk about coverages but it usually falls on deaf ears. That's not to say that we don't have some clients who are extremely good about keeping up with their insurance program and want to meet with us on a regular basis but this is not the norm. I don't think this is just customers of Triest Agency but it is endemic of the entire population in the lowcountry, Charleston and in harms way. I can understand that people don't want to talk about what could happen if we get hit with a CAT 4 or CAT 5 hurricane. Who does? But, people like me are trained to think about how to mitigate the risk and to insure against financial loss due to this.
Our office, and this time was no exception is barraged with angry people calling just days before IRMA came our way. They wanted to buy coverage; reduce deductibles; add to coverage limits ..... They're incensed when we tell them that it's too late. Insurance companies don't sell policies or make these type of changes when a disaster is ready to hit. That's tantamount to calling us for fire insurance when the pot on the stove catches fire. Or someone calling for health insurance when they're on the way to the hospital. Sorry folks but this is not how it works. Letting people buy only for the impending loss is irresponsible and harms the responsible people who have been paying their premiums and were prepared. That's not cold on my part. That's the way insurance works. And for those who don't prepare by having insurance or cannot afford insurance, then the federal government and in this case, FEMA will help. I fully support FEMA assistance to people who are not able to fend for themselves. That's our ethical responsibility as citizens.
So... What's on your schedule right now? Call Triest Agency to go over your policies? I hope so. We won't twist your arm to buy anything that you don't need. Besides, the decision is yours to make. Be prepared for the next big storm by meeting with us now. If you're not already a client then try to meet with your current agent. If that doesn't go anywhere, then my door is always open.
If you did receive damage from IRMA, the visit our IRMA Claims Page.
Hurricane Irma is the strongest hurricane on record in the Atlantic. Winds of 185 and a CAT 5. We may see strong winds and flooding from IRMA. Now is the time to try to mitigate damage to your property. If you have chairs or other object outside, please bring them inside or secure them. If you have plywood to board your windows, you should consider having them ready. If you live in a two story home which could flood, move personal property to the second floor. It could be next Tuesday before we see IRMA here in Charleston. Bottled water and other supplies should be purchased now. If you have any questions about your insurance, please call our office at 843-556-6232. Be prepared.
I feel so bad for the people of Texas that are enduring this horrible tragedy. I just have to make a few points for my friends and clients. Every time there is a catastrophe like Hurricane Harvey, the press and people say, "this has never happened before". The State of Texas and the Federal government will certainly help individuals and businesses who sustain losses. But there is an extent to which they'll provide relief. Those who purchased homeowners, auto comprehensive coverage business, and flood insurance policies, they'll be able to recover. How long it will take depends on many conditions but having insurance money to pay for restoration, living expenses and recovery will be there. For those who didn't plan and purchase coverage like a flood policy, their recovery will be more difficult. They may be able to apply for federal, state or private loans. Hopefully, there will be charitable organizations to help.
Many of the flood victims won't have a flood policy.
1. They may not have a mortgage so flood insurance wasn't required. In my 30 years of experience, most people who aren't required to buy flood insurance, won't buy it. That's not a wise decision.
2. They've been told that they're not in a flood zone. This is unfortunate because they were certainly in a flood zone but may not have been in what is called a "special flood hazard zone". The special flood zones are ones that require coverage if you have a mortgage and have the highest probability of flooding. But there are what is called an X zone which is a flood zone but not a special flood hazard zone or one that the government requires that you purchase if you have a mortgage. This is unfortunate because most people are led to believe from ill informed folks that they're not in a flood zone if they live in an X zone. And in cases like Houston, they'll have significant damage that is not insured. We saw this with the floods in Columbia, SC a few years ago. So for everyone in coastal South Carolina and many other places in South Carolina, if you're in an X zone or told that you're not in a flood zone then don't be led astray. You can buy a flood insurance policy. And you should if you cannot afford to rebuild without assistance.
3. People just look to the recent past to decide if they need coverage. This is foolish. We could have a hurricane like Harvey here on the South Carolina coast and it wouldn't be like anything we've seen in our lifetimes. Hurricane Hugo in 1989 wasn't like anything we have seen in our lifetimes. A storm that dumps 20 or more inches of water on the LOWCOUNTRY, would be devastating and flood many structures that had never seen flooding in the past 100 years. When we look at past events to plan for the future, we need to study the past 300 to 500 years and not your personal history. These types of storms happen here and will happen here again. We live in the LOWCOUNTRY in a tropical zone which is subject to catastrophic loss from wind and flood damage. There is no way to avoid this if you live here. But you can prepare by buying flood insurance.
Our prayers go to the people of Texas. Nobody deserves to endure this type of catastrophe.
Charleston, South Carolina