Follow by Email

Thursday, June 1, 2017

I graduated... now what?

Spring has sprung and you know what that means.  Graduation season.  

What an exciting time in a young persons life to be done with one chapter and on to the next.  There are so many decisions to make upon graduating.  Insurance should be something that doesn't stress you out.  We are here to make that part easy so that you can stress about the bigger questions everyone is throwing at you.

HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES:  By now you probably know what auto insurance is and your parents have probably added you to their policy if you are driving one of their cars.  When we talk to high school kids that is about all they know about insurance.  Words like liability coverage, bodily injury, property damage, uninsured motorist coverage and more are things that they haven't even heard of.  That's why we would HIGHLY ENCOURAGE that families come in to meet with us to go over what coverage they have currently and to make sure that you have the best policy in place for the changes that are coming for that student.  It is also a good time to start thinking about renters insurance if the student is moving out of the parents home.  We are here to help make this a simple seamless transition and provide a little education.

COLLEGE GRADUATES:  If you are planning on staying on your parents couch in the basement and driving their cars forever there is good news for you!  (Maybe not in all areas of your life) You can still be covered under their policy.  Unlike health insurance you don't get kicked off at a certain age. If you have different plans we would love to meet with you.  This is an exciting time in your life and there are a lot of changes that may be happening.  Now is the time to start thinking about broader insurance.  Do you have your own car, rent or own a home, is there someone special in your life that you want to make sure is taken care of if something happens to you?  We can not only make sure that you are covered but make sure you have the right amounts of coverage.  

When I first started dating a handsome insurance guy I let him take a look at my insurance.  I hadn't thought too much about it before then and did figure there would be much I needed to change but what he found that I was OVER insured.  This meant that I was paying too high of a premium every month for a policy that I didn't need.  I was a single gal that owned a house and car and could have used that extra money.  He was able to shop my insurance around and cut my premiums almost in half.  I should have known right there that he was the guy for me.  I know that if it happened to me it happens to a lot of people and it is our duty here at GIT to make sure that we cover you with the exact fit.  After all, who would buy a pair of jeans that were too big for you and more expensive!  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Service Experiences

Does Service Matter?

To some people it doesn't.  They are bottom line price.  I get it.  Some people need it to be like that right now and some people don't care about service.  Not me.  The older I get the more I really treasure good service.  The world we live in really is getting further and further from service.  We do so much business on the phone, over the internet, and even through text now that there isn't as much need for face to face service.  Evey once in a while though I encounter a place that has amazing service and it really does make me a customer for life. 

I love coffee.  I do.  I don't need it like most people, and it is not one of those things that keeps me awake if I am tired.  It relaxes me.  It makes me feel like a grown up when I am with my kids all the time doing silly kid things and it is comforting.  It may be because I am more of a flavored coffee or tons of cream kinda gal but it is a treat to have a coffee.  My wonderful husband recently bought me a Keurig single cup coffee maker and I love it.  BUT I will still go and get a cup of coffee at the Grimes Amici when I am passing by there.  Why?  Because of the service.  The manager is a gentleman named Luke and if you ever need to know what customer service is - go meet him.  He is truly THE example of how to get a customer for life.  First of all he is incredibly friendly.  I have never seen the guy in a bad mood, he lifts my spirits every time I see him.  The thing that really impressed me is that if you go in there 2 or 3 times - he knows you.  Heck!  you don't even have to go in there - if you use the drive thru he will know your car and your voice!  He is invested in you.  He knows your name and what you drink.  He is genuine and he really wants to know who you are.  He is good at making suggestions and makes a great cup of coffee as well.  I have never met anyone in there who is not in a good mood - employee or custumer and I think it is because of the leadership and ambiance that Luke brings to the coffee shop.  Don't take my word for it - go meet him. 

Another local place that has knocked my socks off... my dentist.  WHAT?  Yuck right?  Yes, I hate going to the dentist as well.  I get anxiety about it.  I don't like the sound of drills, and those needle things poking my gums.  If I have to get some dental work done bring on the GAS!!!  Well Grove and Platt Dental Associates has changed that.  Talk about a different dental experience.  You walk in and it is comfortable.  They have a drink station with a fridge of water or coffee.  There is a nice big fish tank to keep your mind off of what is coming, and they have a little room with toys and a tv for the kids.  Then when they call you back - this is what blew my socks off - you get a paraffin hand treatment.  Wait!  Are we at the Spa?  No - the DENTIST.  They dip your hands in comforting warm wax and then wrap them up and put mitten on you while you are getting your teeth cleaned.  The cost?  Nothing.  Just something they like to do for you. How great is that?  Also everyone in that office is incredibly nice.  3 year old Brady has been there a few times and he had absolutely great experiences.  I am so glad we take him there because it will mold the way he feels about his dental hygiene.  Really a wonderful experience all around. 

I also want to tell you about my Pharmacy.  2 years ago we decided to switch Brady's prescriptions from a big name national pharmacy to our local one.  Why?  Brady is on a lot of medications, he has Cystic Fibrosis and we fill about 10 prescriptions a month - when he is healthy.  Unfortunately the pharmacy we were with was a big pain to deal with.  They ignored us, didnt call us back, didn't explain things, were rude to us, etc.  The final straw was they forgot to refrigerate one of his medication it spoiled.  Oh, wait, this happened 3 times!  The medication is one that costs about $3K a month.  It didn't cost us anything in regards to money, but we had to go a day or two without it while they got a replacement in.  It didn't seem like a big deal to them so we decided to try another place.  We moved everything over to the MediCap in Grimes.  I truly had no idea what it was like to really work as a team with my Pharmacist until I met Andrew and his team.  They are amazing.  Not only did they take the time to get to know us and Brady but they go above and beyond in every way.  I have never ever had an issue with any of the medications.  They are explained fully and it is made sure I understand how to administer everything.  They will enhance flavor and color his meds if that helps him take them.  I have not had to deal with my health insurance carrier when it comes to prescriptions since we moved them there.  They take care of it all - calling the doctors, getting things refilled, reautorizations - everything.  If we go out of town and need to get things earlier then we normally do it is not a problem, they explain it all to the insurance company.  Andrew has even went out of his way to figure out where I could get a special vitamin that Brady needed that he didn't carry.  I know all of this takes up a lot of their time and they do not need to be that involved with it but I am so so so Thankful that they do!  It is such a stress reliever to have them helping me with his CF meds.  The pharmacy the we were with before this tried very hard to entice us back - even offering us $50 for every prescription we switched back to them.  Will I ever go back?  No way.  Not when I feel like I am being taken care of by a team that really cares for my child.

Are there other places out there like this?  Of course - these are just my favorite places.  I like convenience as much as the next person but when I feel like a company really cares about me and is looking out for my best interest I am willing to pay more for that service.  I really like that our Insurance agency isn't a huge corporation.  I have never had a problem with the 4pm on a Saturday phone call from someone buying a new vehicle.  11pm calls about a claim - I am glad they know that they can call us to talk them through the accident.  I love having clients into the office and enjoying a glass of wine of beer with them when they get off of work and want to review some coverages.  Need to pick up a payment?  No problem I can meet you at your place of work.  Give me a few refferals and I will bring home made cupcakes to your office.  We truly do value each and every player that we work with at Gustafson Insurance Team.  We would like to think that we are able to provide some unique and personal experiences that you may not be able to get elsewhere.  We also pride ourselves in helping you figure out the best insurance for you.  It may not always be the "cheapest" but it is important to make sure you are covered properly.  I look back at the different business that I admire and I think about thing that I can take from each of them to incorporate into GIT and make it better.  I would love to save our players money but my daily goal is to help create an experiance that doing business with me was worth while even if it didn't save them money.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

YOU can work on a better rate

When I present someone with their home and auto quote I will get a "Can you do any better than that?" question every once in a while.  I would like to address that. 

Nope.  I'm sorry, I can't.  I don't set the price.  I think that is a common misconception.  As insurance agents we do not choose a price for you.  I ask my players (that is what we call our clients) what they are currently paying just so that I know where they are at.  Am I going to get you a good price?  I sure am going to try, but more then that I want to make sure you are insured properly.  I am going to get you the best rate I can but I am not going to under insure you to do so.  Also I can provide a service to you that is unique to our Insurance Agency, if you are a client I hope you know what I mean.  If not give me a call, I would love to meet with you.

Sooooooo....Why is Insurance not a flat rate?  To understand why you may pay $50 a month for your vehicle and your neighbor may pay $100 you need to understand what factors insurance companies use to come up with your rate.  Some companies take more things into account and some don't.  I will just give you a number of different things that companies we write for look at. 

1.  Age, Sex, Marital Status
So Insurance companies are ageist, sexist and relationshipists?  Yeah.  They are.  They base rates on statistical research.  Are you a single male under 25?  You are going to have to pay for that.  The best rates often go to married, middle age women.  The companies are always looking at this data year to year though so if the driving habits for specific groups change so may the rates.  Good or Bad.

2.  Credit Rating
Yes I need your SSN.  No I will not steal your identity (we also sell identity theft insurance), no I will not see what bills you are behind on, and NO I don’t even know what your credit score is.  It is all done behind the scenes.  Many insurance companies look at having a poor or no credit score as well as having a number of credit inquireies and open and closed accounts as being of higher risk.  Work on getting a better credit score and you will get a lower premium. 

3.  Current Insurance
If you do not have current insurance your rates are going to be higher.  The insurance company is not too sure what kind of insured you are going to be.  One way to help this out?  Before you buy a home make sure you have rentors insurance.  Do not let your insurance lapse. 

4.  Driving Record
We are not all perfect right?  I get it.  I haven't gotten a ticket for a long time but I am the type of person that if I get pulled over for speeding I cry.  Not just so the cop feels bad and cuts me a deal.  I truly cry because I am mad at myself and embarrassed and I think it is just a natural reaction.  Even though I cry...... I get a ticket.  Seriously.  I think I have had like 4 speeding tickets in my life and I have been pulled over 5 times.  Now my Hubby.  He is unbelievable.  He NEVER gets a ticket.  Ever.  Why is that?  I don’t get it!!!!  He doesn't cry, I don’t think he even feels bad about it!  Totally unfair.  Ok anyway, where I was going with this is even good careful drivers can sometimes make a mistake that lands them a ticket.  Insurance companies look at driving records when setting rates.  A bad reputation is hard to shake and it is hard to maintain a perfect record but usually penalties fall of your record in 3-5 years.  A messy record takes a toll on your premiums; a squeaky clean one will give you discounts usually.  There are also some programs like the minor violation forgiveness and minor accident forgiveness that help with that. 

5.  Prior Claims
This one is hard.  Why do you get insurance?  To protect you right?  Say Yes.  Ok so if you have a something go wrong you report the claim.  Great.  That is why you have insurance and it means the system is working.  BUT if you file a claim that means your insurance is likely to go up.  And if you file too many claims your carrier may even drop you.  Kinda crazy right?  It seems as though you are penalized for using the insurance for the exact reason you have the policy in the first place.  If you are thinking that you are right and I don't disagree with you but you have to look at it from the insurance company’s point of view. Someone who is submitting a number of claims is looked at as a risk.  Also you need to know there are some people out there that have just ruined it for all of us.  You may want to think about a strategy to filing a claim.  What line would be crossed where you would file and where you would just pay for the damages up front, then look at your deductible and make sure that those things line up.

6.  Your Vehicle - Type and Age
Again we go back to the statistics here.  The statistical data is not only used to determine collision coverage rates but liability and med pay coverage premiums.  Cars with High Frequency claims - SUVs, luxury cars, sports cars = high premiums.  Lower priced sedans usually equal a lower rate because they cost less to repair and replace.  Seat belts, airbags, and other safety equipment are also looked at in determining lower rates. 

7.  Your Home - Type and Age
When we insurance homes we come up with a cost of replacement.  This is done by inputting a lot of information about your home in a special tool that figures out the approximate cost of what it would be to rebuild your home in the event of a catastrophe today.  You are going to get a better rate if there are any updates done with the Electrical, Plumbing, HVAC, and other things.  As well as what your home is made of.  Brick, Concreat, and Stone are cheaper to insure.   Most home insurance companies add on a 25% above the cost estimater cushion.  I love this.  We all know about inflation and building supplies so I like to know that if something happens in a couple years and it may take a little bit more to rebuild my home I am not going to be cut short. 

8.  Where you Live
Urban areas have higher rates then more rural areas.  Why?  NORMALLY theft and accidents happen at a higher rate in these areas.  The number of homes and autos per square mile is an important factor in indicating the chance that a claim will be filed.  80% of accident happen within a 25 mile radius of a person’s home.  Road conditions, law enforcement, local cost of auto repair, traffic patterns, natrual disaster high risk areas, building costs in the area, fire hydrant location, fire department, and hospital location are all factors when determining rate.  Insurance companies have many different rating territories across a single city at times. 

So to recap.  I do not get to set your premium.  In a way of looking at it YOU set your own premium.  Somethings like age and sex you can't change, but most factors you can.  So instead of asking me if I can do better on that rate, maybe the right question is:  What can I do to get a better rate? 

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Life Insurance

Ok So I am in my 30s now.  (31 if you are counting) That means I am getting old right?  Some days I feel old, some days I feel like a spring chicken.  Spring Chicken?  Why do people even say that?  Wouldn't it be spring chick if it was a new little baby?  Anyway.  I guess now is the time to start thinking about Life Insurance. 

I contemplate life a lot now that I am a Mom.  I didn't bother thinking about it too much before.  I am a Christian, I believe in heaven, when it is my time to die, so be it.  Great right?  Well that has all changed since having my boys.  Now there is a future when I am gone that I need to think about.  What would happen if I was no longer here?  Ok maybe things would be fine since Scott would still be around, he is the breadwinner anyway.  (At least until my imaginary bakery or amazing crafting empire take off.)  So lets imagine what would happen if something happened to Scott. 

BOOM!  The Dallas Center Carnival rides truck was driving on Highway 44 and the tilt a whirl car flew off the truck and struck Scott as he was mowing our ditch.  (Hun - if you are reading this you totally died quickly and painlessly.)  If we have no Life Insurance what would happen? 

Well first off, there would be funeral costs to take care of.  The average funeral is $15K.  Yes 15 THOUSAND.  That is a lot of money to say good bye to someone.  If we had no life insurance what would we do?  My dream of a nice casket and lots of flowers would be out the window.  Gone also the beautiful plot of land overlooking the flower filled hill side.  The ornate headstone with "loving husband and father" NOPE.  The reception with amazing chocolate cake and a keg?  Well maybe we can keep that one.  In all seriousness I don't have money tucked away for funeral costs and the money that we do have "tucked away" we have other plans for.

Next we would probably loose our home.  Good thing that we bit the bullet and got a van this year.  Guess we could find a river...  Maybe that is not exactly what our only option would be but we would definitely have to downsize.  We don't need as much room as we have and if you know me you know that I have no desire to mow our large yard.   We never planed to leave the home we are in now.  We have worked very hard to make it our dream house and I look forward to seeing all the family milestones and traditions continue in our home. 

Like I mentioned Scott is the breadwinner here.  He has worked incredibly hard to build Gustafson Insurance Team from the ground up and I would have a huge decision to make if he headed up to chill with Jesus.  Do I sell GIT?  Do I just hand his company - our company - over to someone else?  All of the hard work and amazingly long hours he puts into it would be for nothing.  Or do I work my bootie off to try to be Scott 2.0 and try to figure out how to become the Insurance Guru that he is.  It would mean incredibly long hours away from the kids, and lots of focus and attention to my clients.  Right now it works out great that we work as a team and I think that our Insurance customers benefit from that, I am not sure I could do it by myself. 

What about the college funds for our children that we have not started yet?  (Opps.  Maybe the next Blog should be about savings.)  If we didn't have life insurance where would any money come from to be put toward schooling?  (On a side note -the college that Scott went to is about $39,000 a year this year.  Can you imagine what it will be in 15 years?)  Or what about car payments?  Credit Card Bills?  Anything else that isn't payed off?  What about the trip to Italy I have planned for 2013? 

Yes - I get it.  No Life Insurance would not be good.  So I solved that problem for everyone.  Should you get Life Insurance?  Yes.  Great.  But now we have another question.  How much? 

Ugh.  Isn't this blog long enough?  OK, how much, should be a little easier of a question to answer.  Let's just look back at our "problems."  Do you need funeral costs to be covered?  Yes, ok write 15K down.  Do you own a home?  OK write down your mortgage because you want to provide your family with a debt free home.  Anyone in your home with plans to go to college?  add those up.  What about vehicle loans, credit card debt, any other loans you have out?  The hard one is thinking about the loss of income - the general rule is 8-10 times the primary wage-earners salary.  Oh and one not every family may have to think about but we sure do - Any family members that have long term medical care needs?  OK did you come up with a figure?  Your insurance agent can definitely help you to figure out what would be a good figure based on your needs but it is obviously better to err on the side of too much coverage then not enough.   

I hope that in reading this you understand how important life insurance is to you and your family.  You have to remember that your families future standard of living could greatly change if you don't have a plan in place if something were to happen.  It is never fun to think about death and lack of money.  Having the conversation with your family about what would happen if you were gone is not a pleasant thing.  Not having the conversation and ending up wishing you did would be far worse. 

OK now off to go hug my husband and tell him that he is not allowed to mow in the ditches around Dallas Center Fall Festival time.  You always hear about those crazy "jinx" stories.  Good Bye for now!

Monday, August 29, 2011

You Better Shop Around...

Why do we just walk in to a store and buy something without shopping around nowadays? I have had a few things happen recently that made me open up my eyes and realize that thing have really changed and there is no reason to pay full price for things.

My poor computer would not come on last week. I had been having some issues with it. Well - Ok - I was having to plug it in and wrap the cord underneath the computer and occasionally apply pressure with my left thumb while typing to make sure the battery wouldn't die. So I knew this was coming. Scott took it into Best Buy to make sure the cord was an issue and found that indeed it was. All he had to do was pay $68.00 and I would have full access to my computer again. Great right? Not really. That seemed a bit steep for a power cord so Scott asked me to use my magic Google powers to see if I can find one for less. Thank goodness for our Android phones - I started my search. It took me about 3 minutes to find one that was cheaper. $2.81. Yes. The number is correct that is how much I found a NEW computer power cord that was compatible to my computer for. YES I did have to pay $7 in shipping but I was ok with that. Why would anyone pay $68 for something that they could get for $2.81 and it took minutes to figure that out? Now if it was $12 I may have just got it there - I am a sucker for service and putting a face to things usually. If I have to pay a little more but have the comfort of a person that is able to talk me through things I would go for it. But this was a POWERD CORD people!!!!

OK Scenario #2. We are putting a TV in the basement to watch football on this fall. We didn't have one there before so we called the cable company to get a second DVR HD receiver. (OR something like that - I am not very good at TV talk unless we are talking about hGtv or the food network.) I am not sure exactly what happened but with a small mention of switching to another company - and with out an argument or anything - someone was coming out to get us the receiver plus some sports stations for life, movie channels for a few months and a lower monthly bill. What? So I just had to call in and name drop another company and I get more for less? Why didn't I do this 5 years ago? Why don't I do this every year?

My 3rd savings situations. I got a Cricut. Yes, I LOVE it. It is so much fun and I can do so much with it. I figured it will be an investment for when the kids are in school and such. It was expensive but when I found it on sale for 1/2 off I jumped on it. Then I say that the cartridges were about $40 - $90 a piece! What? That is more then I payed for the machine. I panicked and was having buyers remorse until I pulled up my friend e-bay. The same things. In the packaging. Never used. For $8 to $15.00? OK - (big breath) that I can handle. Thank you again technology of shopping different venues.

Then it hit me on the way into work today. I sell Insurance. I am an independent agent. Shopping Around is what I do. Before I was in this world I never thought twice about my insurance bill. It came, it was paid, I had proof of insurance, no need to question it. Then I met this handsome guy who looked at my insurance and not only let me know that I was way over insured but even apples to apples I was paying way too much. WHAT????? Was someone ripping me off? No. I just was naive and didn't know that you could shop your rates. Why didn't I question this before? Not sure. I know so much more now. I love my job. I love being able to help people and save them money. There have been so many people that we have been able to save a hundred - even a thousand dollars a year on their insurance and that makes me feel good. So I ask you - are you just paying the bills when they come? Are you buying that $68 cord just to make things work? Or do you need a little help shopping around?