Shopping for Insurance
Before purchasing an insurance policy, you should be aware of and understand the types of products and coverage available in New York State. You also need to know the types and limits of coverage you want.
Many insurers use "captive agents" or "independent agents" to sell their products. Captive agents work for just one insurance company. Independent agents represent one or more insurance companies. Other insurance companies are known as “direct writers,” and market policies using only their own employees or exclusive sales representatives, or websites. You may deal with a direct writer by telephone, Internet, mail or in person by visiting a company’s offices.
You may also contact an "insurance broker." An insurance broker is not usually authorized to issue policies on behalf of an insurance company or to bind an insurance company to issue a policy to you. You must first go through an application process. However, once a broker has found a company willing to issue you a policy, any premium payments you make to the broker are considered as if paid to the insurance company directly, thereby binding the insurer to the insured.
USE A LICENSED AGENT OR BROKER
Make sure you are dealing with an insurer, agent or broker who is licensed to sell insurance in New York State.
To check the license status of an insurer, use our Insurance Company Search.
To check the license status of an agent, call or e-mail the agent and request a New York license number or use our Licensee Search.
In seeking a rate quote, you will be asked a series of questions. Make sure you answer these questions fully and accurately.
As stated above, comparison shopping can save you money. However, premium price is only one of many factors to consider. You should look at other factors such as a company’s reputation, claim practices, reliability, the services provided, and that the particular coverage the company offers meets your particular needs.
Read your policy, or one that you are thinking about purchasing, carefully since the extent of coverage may differ somewhat among different companies. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
You should be aware of any co-insurance, deductibles and exclusions contained in a policy. While you are shopping for insurance you may also find that some companies may include additional coverage without an additional premium, while others charge for every type of coverage added to the policy.
The influence of the Internet on the insurance marketplace is growing rapidly. Quoting agents are actively marketing their services to consumers via websites. Quoting agents can provide sample insurance rates to Internet users who respond to various online questions. In addition, many insurance companies and traditional agents and brokers have their own websites providing pricing, service information and, sometimes, the means to complete a homeowners insurance purchase.
If you are considering purchasing insurance over the Internet, check that you are using an agent, broker or insurer who is licensed to sell insurance in New York State. To check the license of an insurer, use our Insurance Company Search. To check the license of an agent, call or e-mail the agent and request a New York license number or use our Licensee Search.
Remember, when you are applying for or purchasing insurance on the Internet you are transmitting key financial and personal data over a network to an insurer or agent. There are many scam websites. Make sure any website you are using is secure and legitimate.
Over the next few years, Internet sales are expected to grow as competition intensifies in the electronic marketplace. New York State consumers should be aware that the Internet can be a convenient means of comparing prices and/or purchasing homeowners insurance, but that it is not necessarily the best or only way for everyone. Whether or not you use the Internet, it pays to shop around for homeowners insurance.