Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mountain Biking Trails near Portland

was looking for some specific references to Scapoose and found this link by a bike shop out in Hillsboro area.

Hunting for Insurance, Allstate wins!

I recently went on a hunt for a lower cost/better value insurance for our two cars and one condo. I’ll share my experience here hoping it saves others some time/money. Realize that situations vary widely and what was best for us may not be best for you.

First, I constructed a representative situation for us and posed this to 5 insurance companies: nationwide, progressive, country, state farm, and allstate. There are 100+ insurance companies, and I really did not want to talk to every one of them. I had determined the optimal allocation as a single male with a condo was the condo with one company and the car with another, but there is some additional hassle with that as well as not leveraging the discount one receives when they carry multiple policies with the same company. As a single male, I was not able to get a sufficient discount to put vehicle and condo with the same company. The reason was simple: some companies classified my car as a sports car and some as a coupe. Progressive happened to have classified it as a coupe while Country classified it as a sports car because of the Type-S VTEC. The cheapest for car insurance was different than the cheapest for the condo even after factoring in any discounts.
After getting estimates back from these 5 companies (which took 5+ hours of leg work). I reduced down to 2 scenarios to get detailed bids. [1] Allstate and [2] a Progressive/Country combo were the lowest, so I did the detailed bids where we give them VIN numbers, driving records, condo details, permission to run credit reports and got specific numbers. After this process, Allstate came out as a killer deal when combining all the policies, discounts, etc. I was actually quite surprised by how much I could saved, probably around 35% when compared to a no discount scenario, IN ADDITION to being the cheapest before any discounts were applied. So while this process was rather time consuming, the end result is that we will save several hundred dollars a year, so the ROI will be worth it.

Everyone’s situation is different, and the quants at each firm have different goals and risk profiles they are tweaking every year, so if you’ve been with the same insurance company for 3+ years its probably a good idea to take a look and review your policies. Progressive was creeping up this year after actually going down in some previous years.

Insurance agents can be frustrating. When finalizing our insurance plans, we found numerous errors before finally getting the final policy in place. On the car policy we got listed as renter, the address was wrong, they started charging us as if we had coverage when all we wanted were bids, we were listed as single at one point, etc. Some of the insurance folks were just baffled and seemingly afraid of their computers. Looking over their shoulders as they enter information is informative because you can see how the systems are setup and obtain a more favorable cost basis. One example was ‘profession’ which can give you a discount. For example, there is no category for software engineer nor architect yet there is one for programmer! (this tells you how outdated and slow the insurance companies are in updating their IT systems…the allstate folks were typing information into a WYSE/VT220 terminal emulation program on a Windows machine). They didn’t give me a list to pick from to see what might apply to my situation, just asked what I did, so had I not seen the actual categories one day in the office I would have had no idea that I was eligible for a discount for the category of ‘programmer’. When I said software engineer they didn’t see a category for me thus I didn’t get the discount. Agh! In summary: Go into the office, review each and every component of your policy to ensure it matches what you expect, and get a printout of the policy details to make sure what you tell the agent actually gets entered into the system. Also, ASK WHAT THE OPTIONS ARE and get a listing of them, best face to face or by entering the information yourself. And don’t drink any coffee that day, your likely to explode in the insurance agent’s office at how slow everything moves.

With Allstate, when the detailed policy came in the mail from headquarters everything was listed including all the discounts in an easy to read format. When talking with the agents, they seemed a bit confused and unable to tell me exactly what discounts were being applied and how much. When I asked for an explanation for how they didn’t know they said it changes from year to year, the IT changes from year to year, and its just difficult to keep up with all the changes and discounts.