For many consumers, "bundling" their insurance (that is, buying all their policies through one company) saves money and time while cutting down on paperwork. If, after reading "Part 1, Why bundle insurance policies," you want to see whether bundling is right for you, these how-to tips can help you shop smart:
Understand what you already have. It's important to use identical "apples to apples" criteria for accurate quote comparisons among the companies you're considering. If you're a PEMCO customer, log in to your pemco.com account to review your current information. Do the same for your other insurance company or check the paperwork you received with your most recent renewal. It contains a "declarations page" showing your coverages, premium, policy effective dates and deductible.
Specify the policies you plan to bundle. That's important to do from the outset, especially if you're using an online tool to get automated quotes. Common choices are auto/home, auto/renter and auto/home/boat.
Research to make sure the bundle isn't just packaging. Some companies (even major ones) have brokerage arrangements with affiliate companies for policies that they don't sell themselves. If you have to file a claim, you may find out you're actually dealing with two different companies. PEMCO services every policy it sells.
Pay attention to how you feel about each company. The cheapest deal won't feel satisfying if you can't reach the company in an emergency or you get the phone-tree runaround when you call. If you prefer to do business online, make sure the company you're considering has a robust app that lets you DIY things like routine policy changes, payments, etc.
Verify available discounts. Most companies offer discounts for things like multiple cars on one policy and good grades for students. But other, less-common discounts can really pay off depending on your situation. For example, some insurers offer discounts to certain employee groups (PEMCO has a discount for school employees) or they offer accident- or ticket-free discounts or forgiveness if you have no recent incidents appearing on your driving record. Evaluate each company's total discount package, not just the bundling discount.
Check for cancellation penalties. Many insurers, including PEMCO, prorate and refund all unused premium if you cancel your policy before your term is up. But others charge a processing fee or hold back a percentage of your premium if you leave before your policy is ready to renew.
Delay if you've recently been in an accident. Even if you were at fault and you're probably looking at a premium increase, it likely won't happen until your next renewal. With a new company, chances are higher the accident would be reflected in your rates right away.
Avoid any gap in coverage as you transition. If you switch companies, don't cancel your old policy until you've received confirmation that your new policy is in effect. Even a gap of a few hours could put you at financial risk if you got in an accident. Also, don't simply stop paying premiums to your old company. Officially cancel your policy or you risk a hit to your credit rating for nonpayment.
And a final thought: Before you comparison shop, brush up on auto insurance coverages and what they mean and review how much homeowners insurance you need. Your local PEMCO agent or a PEMCO representative at 1-800-GO-PEMCO also can answer your questions.
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