1) Do not buy the first policy you come across. With most things you shell out money for, you shop around and weigh against prices and features. Insurance purchase should be no different. Always get hold of quotes from a number of companies and judge against benefits and rates ahead of paying your first premium. The bottom line is to weigh the pros and cons of the available options before narrowing down your choice to the ultimate one.
2) Be careful to buy your policy only from authorized companies and agents/agencies. Unauthorized insurance procedures are illegal, and their policyholders are as good as unprotected against the risks apparently insured against, as also the danger of being hoaxed. You can verify the authenticity of an insurer by calling the Louisiana Department of Insurance.
3) Be sure about the credibility of an agent as also of a company. A classic case in point is when the price quoted sounds too good to be true; it may very well be a bait for you to grab, and lose. Low premiums are worthless if you receive bad service or the company is incapable to cover your claim.
4) Fill out your application carefully, with utmost attention to the all of the otherwise minute details. An error or two creeping in here and there may catch you unawares derail you. Never put your signature on blank forms or blank applications. Inaccurate, imperfect or false information on your application can lay your insurance coverage on the line. It is an offense to furnish false information on an insurance application or claim. Don’t allow an agent to sway you to say anything or file data that is not to the best of your knowledge.
5) Premium is of premier importance; it is always at a premium. Never pay your premium in cash. Always make check or money order payment of your insurance premiums. Ensure that you have a receipt that clearly shows that you paid the premium in reality. Whenever possible, pay direct to the insurance company, instead of through the agent.
6) Look ahead to getting a copy of your policy from your agent in a fair period of time. (Note: For auto insurance, an ID card is NOT regarded as a copy of policy.) In case of non-receipt of your policy, contact your agent first, and then your state’s Department of Insurance.
7) Read your policy right away to bear out that it contains the coverage you conversed with your agent. If everything is not in place, get in touch with your agent straight away or return your policy.
8) Bear in mind there is a free-look period in which you are given time to assess a policy once you have received it. Ensure that you utilize it to the best effect. All life and health policies have to have a free-look period of at a minimum of 10 days; some may have longer.
9) Keep copies of all insurance records, including copies of all premium payments, for future reference, if the situation so demands. Keep additional copies in a safe-deposit box, in a waterproof and fireproof container, or with a trusted friend or legal practitioner.
10) Contact your state’s Department of Insurance to know details of a company’s or an agent’s license standing, A.M. Best rating, complaint history, or to lodge a complaint.
If everything is not crystal clear…
If you are under the impression that your insurance company has inappropriately declines to issue or renew your policy, or turns down payment of all or part of a legitimate claim, you should ask questions first and then complain if required.
First, you should contact your agent or company representative. Oftentimes a slip-up has been made and will be set right upon inquiry. When putting up a query to your agent or company, ensure providing them your name, address, telephone number, policy number, type of policy, and the nature of your problem.
Complaints / Fraud
What happens if you’re still in dark? If you do not get a fitting reply from your agent or company or to report deceit, you should not hesitate to lodge a complaint with your state’s Department of Insurance.