What Structures Besides the Home Does Homeowners Insurance Cover?

Your home insurance covers far more than the home itself and its contents. If you read your homeowners policy from Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance of Portland, ME carefully, you’ll spot a section called “other structures.”

What are other structures?

Other structures refer to any buildings on your property that are not directly attached to the home. Those include fences, sheds, detached garages, workshops, etc. It also includes your backyard gazebo, and the pool house, if you are fortunate to have a pool.

Similar to the policy section that covers your home’s contents, the other structures section describes your coverage and its limits. Your other structures will be covered for a percentage of the replacement value of your home. It is typically ten percent of the value. That is not per structure, but for all other structures as a whole.

That means if your insured home value is $300,000 and your other structures coverage provides ten percent coverage, you have $30,000 of coverage for your workshop, fences, detached garage, and other buildings.

Other structures coverage is automatically included, whether or not you have any outbuildings. That’s so that you don’t have to call your insurance agent if you add a shed or build a small detached garage. “Other Structures” can’t be removed from a homeowners policy, and there’s no additional charge for the coverage.

Also, you are covered for the same perils as named in your home’s coverage. If your house has coverage for wind or hurricane damage, so do your other structures.

Call us at Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland, ME at 207-799-5541 to learn more about other structures insurance. You can add to your coverage so your workshop or fences are fully insured.

Portland Maine Area Short Term Rental Rules

Many cities and towns struggle to balance short term rental with affordable housing. Advocates for short term rental say it encourages property improvements and neighborhood revitalization. They believe private property owners use should be free from government intervention.


Short term rental opponents say owner occupancy and long term leases foster community. They argue that short term rental erodes that community. They also contend that STR contributes to high housing prices. By removing inventory from the market, STR reduces long term housing supply.


Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth Maine are not immune to short term rental controversy. Both passed STR ordinances in 2018 after contentious debate. These laws restrict the time, place and type of short term rental activity. You can find recaps of Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth STR regulations at the bottom of the page.

Insurance for Short Term Rentals in Maine

Thinking of renting your Maine property on AirBnb, HomeAway, VRBO or another short term rental platform? Check with your insurance agent. You may need special insurance to protect yourself. STR platforms also include insurance for hosts. Most of this insurance is supplemental. It’s not intended to replace your primary insurance policy.

If you need insurance for your short term rental property in the Portland Maine area, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. If you meet Portland or South Portland’s STR laws, we may help you choose the best insurance value. We’re independent and committed to you.

Portland Maine Short Term Rental Law

This information is current as of 12/1/18 (Code of Ordinances Sec 6-150 et seq.)

  • Short-term rental operators must register yearly and pay a fee.
  • Maximum of 400 unhosted units allowed on mainland.
  • Property owners may register up to 5 STR units combined.
  • Up to 5 units within primary residence (bedrooms, separate spaces, etc.)
  • Non-owner-occupied single-family homes and condominium units may not be rented out short term.
  • Only homes or apartments used as a primary residence can be registered as owner-occupied.
  • No more than two short-term rental guests are allowed per bedroom. Two more may use other areas for sleeping.
  • multi-unit buildings have their own rules (below)
Portland Maine multi-unit building STR limits

South Portland Maine Short Term Rental Law

Current as of 1/1/2019 (Ordinance #22-17/18)

  • Unhosted non-owner-occupied short-term rentals prohibited in residential zones (single-family home owners may rent their primary homes up to 14 days per year).
  • Owner-occupied short-term rentals allowed under certain conditions in residential zones.
  • Requires city-issued registration number in STR advertisement
  • Short-term rental operators must register yearly and pay a fee.
  • Short-term rental operators must also be inspected, insured, and licensed by the city and collect Maine sales tax.
  • No more than two short-term rental guests are allowed per bedroom and six total per occupancy.

Cape Elizabeth Maine Short Term Rental Law

Current as of 1/1/2019 (Zoning Ordinance, Chapter 19)

  • Apply to Town Code Enforcement Officer for a STR permit.
  • No permit required for < 14 days per year
  • For non-owner occupied properties,
    • No more than 12 tenants at a time from May 1 to October 31
    • No more than 2 tenants per bedroom.
    • No more than 8 tenants at a time.
    • No more than 2 weeks rental per month
    • 7 day minimum rental period

Maine Sales Tax on Short Term Rentals

The State of Maine requires owners of “casual rental” property to pay 9% sales tax. Properties rented fewer than 15 days per year are exempt. For more information about sales tax on short term rental, see Maine Revenue Services Bulletin 32.

Windstorm Insurance Deductibles in Maine

Today’s forecast calls for winds up to 60 mph. Forecasters tell us to expect power outages and downed trees and limbs. It’s a day many homeowners and business owners will discover that their insurance policy has a wind deductible.

Windstorm insurance deductibles have been common in the Southern US for years. In Maine, they’re more commonly found on insurance policies for coastal or island properties.

Not every insurance policy in Maine has a separate wind deductible. If your policy doesn’t list one, then your regular property deductible applies to wind damage.

“Percentage Deductibles” vs. Flat Deductibles

Most homeowners and business property policies have a flat deductible that applies to all causes of loss. These are fixed dollar deductibles, for example $1,000. Whether you have a break-in, fire or water damage, your property insurance deductible is $1,000.

Most wind deductibles are “percentage deductibles”. The deductible is a percentage of the insurance amount, NOT the actual loss. For example, if your home is insured for $500,000 and has a 1% windstorm deductible, a $5,000 deductible applies to wind damage, and your flat deductible applies to other causes of loss.

Common Types of Windstorm Damage in Maine

  • Wind blows a tree onto property, damaging it.
  • Wind damages roof shingles or siding.
  • Wind-driven rain lifts shingles and siding, allowing water into the building.

Three Types of Windstorm Insurance Deductibles in Maine

  • Hurricane deductibles
  • “Named Storm” deductibles
  • Wind deductibles

Hurricane Insurance Deductible

A hurricane deductible only applies if your wind damage was caused by an actual hurricane. If your property is damaged by wind during any other kind of storm, the deductible doesn’t apply. Insurance policies define when a hurricane deductible applies. Usually it’s during the time and place that a hurricane watch or warning is in effect.

“Named Storm” Insurance Deductible

“Named storms” include tropical storms and depressions, as well as hurricanes. These occur more frequently, so “named storm” insurance deductibles are more likely to be applied. A homeowner would rather have a hurricane deductible.

Historically, “named storms” were limited to tropical cyclones. But in recent years, the National Weather Service has begun naming winter storms. Does wind damage that occurs in one of these named winter storms cause the “named storm deductible” to apply? That’s unclear. In our South Portland Maine insurance agency, we haven’t heard of an insurance company invoking that. But, it could happen.

Wind Damage Insurance Deductible

Wind deductibles apply to all kinds of wind damage, including those caused by hurricanes, named storms, or other wind. Even moderate winds can cause damage to property. A homeowner or business owner would prefer a hurricane deductible or a named storm deductible to a wind deductible. That’s because windy days happen much more frequently than hurricanes.

Which Insurance Companies Use Wind Deductibles?

Some use only hurricane deductibles. Others use Named Storm deductibles. Still more use wind deductibles. And some don’t use wind deductibles at all.

Each insurance company has its own guidelines. Some large national insurers use a wind deductible for any property within 1 or 2 miles of the coast. That’s a lot of homes in Maine. Many use special deductibles for properties within 1000′ of the coast.

The geography of Maine’s coast varies greatly. South of Portland, much of the coast is low-lying beaches open to the Atlantic. This allows ocean windstorms to affect properties farther from the shore. North of Portland, the coast is more rocky and rugged. Many elevated peninsulas create leeward inlets and protected harbors.

Some insurance companies that understand Maine underwrite these coastal areas differently. They may require a special deductible for properties more exposed to wind, and not for others.

Does Your Insurance Policy Have a Windstorm Deductible?

If your policy has a separate windstorm deductible, contact Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance in South Portland at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s preferred home and business insurance companies. Depending on the location of your home, we may find an insurer willing to insure your property with a flat deductible. This could save you thousands of dollars in case of windstorm damage.

Which is Better? Portland Maine Water District HomeServe or Homeowners Insurance?

The Portland Maine Water District offers HomeServe service agreement products. There are three options: exterior water lines, exterior sewer lines, and interior plumbing.

  • Does a water district plan duplicate coverage you already have under your homeowners?
  • Can you buy water or sewer line coverage from an insurance company?
  • Is it cheaper to buy water line coverage from an insurance company, or the water district?

We’ve created a spreadsheet comparing what’s covered by the water district plans with what insurance products cover. We’ve also outlined the cost and benefits of each. This 11 minute video reviews it in detail:

If you prefer to look at the spreadsheet yourself, here it is:

spreadsheet comparing Portland Maine Water District water sewer line plans with insurance

Some of the key differences between the plans:

  • Not every insurance company offers service line coverage yet. It’s getting more popular all the time.
  • Insurance coverage limits are generally higher than the water district plan.
  • The water district plan is actually a service agreement, not an insurance policy.
  • Insurance has deductibles. The water district service agreements don’t.
  • No waiting period for insurance. 30 day wait for service agreements.
  • Insurance allows you to choose your own contractor. The water district plan requires you to use theirs.
  • Pre-paid water district service agreements cover the cost to clear blocked pipes. Insurance does not cover maintenance issues like this.
  • Insurance covers costs to live elsewhere during repairs after a plumbing or sewer disaster. The water district plans do not.
  • Insurance costs 66% to 90% less than water district plans.


Choose a Water District Plan If:
– you prefer to pay more for the security of no surprises.
– you don’t want to pick your own contractor.

Choose Insurance If:
– you can handle a $500 or $1,000 deductible for a much lower cost.
– you want to use insurance for “the big stuff” like crushed lines, not smaller plumbing issues.

If you have questions about Greater Portland Maine property insurance, contact a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland. We offer a choice of many of Maine’s best insurance companies. We can help find the best fit and value for you. We’re independent and committed to you.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Solar Panels in Maine?

More Maine homeowners are installing solar panels. Roof-mounted solar PV panels promise many benefits: decreased electric bills; energy independence; and a reduced carbon footprint.

 

Are Solar Panels Automatically Covered by Maine Home Insurance?

The good news: your homeowners policy covers your home’s utility fixtures, including heating and electrical systems. Damage caused by fire, wind, falling trees and lightning are all covered.

The bad news: your homeowners policy excludes coverage for some common causes of loss (perils). If squirrels or birds damage your unit, your insurance won’t pay to fix it. And, if your PV solar panels simply stop working, you’re out of luck if you have an “off the shelf” homeowners policy.

Can I Buy Special Insurance for Solar Panels?

Some insurance companies offer breakdown coverage. This covers failure of home systems such as: boilers and heat pumps; appliances; electrical panels – and solar panels. If a system fails prematurely, your insurance company will pay to replace it. But beware: if your system rusts out or simply wears out at the end of its useful life, that’s not covered.  And deductibles apply: $500 and $1000 are common.

How Expensive is Solar Panel Insurance in Maine?

Home systems breakdown insurance doesn’t cost much, even though it insures your expensive solar panel installation. It usually costs less than $50 per year, added right onto your homeowners policy.

Do you live in the Portland Maine area? Looking for solar panel insurance or equipment breakdown coverage? Call Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance at 207-799-5541. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies. Several of them offer this special insurance. We can help you find the best fit for your budget and your home. We’re independent and committed to you.

Do Hurricanes and Wildfires In Other States Affect Maine Insurance Rates?     

Insurance companies pool risk. They collect money from many people to pay the losses of a few who have claims. Everyone’s rates go up or down, depending on the insurance company’s experience. More claims paid = higher rates.


You may be wondering:

  • How much do hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters affect insurance rates?
  • Do disasters in other states affect my insurance rates in Maine?

It’s helpful to understand how insurance companies price their product. Insurance rates are recommended by insurance company actuaries. They project how much money the insurance company must collect to pay claims and make a profit. This requires complex modeling and formulas. Actuaries recommend rate changes to a special committee of company executives. The committee compares the actuary’s recommendation to the company’s profitability and growth targets. They agree on a proposed rate change, and submit it to Maine insurance regulators.

The regulator’s job is to make sure that insurance rates are:

  • Adequate to pay claims
  • Not excessive
  • Not unfairly discriminatory.

Regulators may approve or deny the rate change, or ask for more information.

What Factors Affect Insurance Rates?

At its simplest, insurance is “money in…money out.”

Money In = Premium Collected

Cheap insurance rates may leave the insurance company with insufficient money to pay claims and make a profit. Rates that are too high may send customers fleeing to other insurers.

Money Out = Losses 

The most important determinant of insurance rates. More losses than expected puts pressure for the insurance company to raise rates. Fewer losses puts downward pressure on rates.

But here’s the rest of the story:

Insurance Company Financial Strength – Well-managed insurance companies keep adequate reserves to pay claims on a rainy day. Insurers with strong financials can weather a bad year without huge rate increases. Weaker ones need more frequent rate adjustments. The best way to learn the financial condition of an insurance company? A.M. Best tests the financial strength of insurers and assigns them a letter grade.

Type of Insurance Company – Mutual insurance companies are owned by their customers. After they pay claims, mutuals store their profits to pay future claims. Other insurance companies are stockholder owned. Stockholders expect a return on their investment. Investors pressure executives of publicly held companies to improve profits every quarter. This can lead to larger or more frequent rate increases to stay ahead of current losses.

Reinsurance – Almost every insurance company is also an insurance consumer. They buy insurance against “the big one”. This is called reinsurance. Most companies reinsure against annual total losses exceeding a certain amount. This dampens the impact of multiple hurricanes, fires or other disasters in one year.

Generally, larger insurers buy less reinsurance than smaller ones. Smaller insurers have less surplus, and thus are more vulnerable to catastrophic losses.

Of course, reinsurers are also insurance companies. They must collect more premium if they suffer unexpectedly large claims. Insurance companies pay different reinsurance rates based on their individual loss experience.

Do Disasters in Other States Affect My Insurance Rates?

Probably not as much as you think. Maine insurance regulators only allow insurers to file rates based upon Maine premium and losses. Claims that a company pays in California or Florida are not baked into Maine insurance rates.

BUT…

Insurance companies factor nationwide overhead costs into Maine rates. Cost like advertising, salaries – and reinsurance. Since events outside Maine influence reinsurance costs, they influence Maine customers’ rates. Just less than you might expect.

What’s the Difference Between a Homeowners Policy and Dwelling Fire Policy?

Two types of hazard insurance commonly cover Maine homes and property: a homeowners policy and a dwelling fire policy. Each can satisfy your mortgage company’s hazard insurance requirements. Homeowners and dwelling fire policies provide different coverage. Here are some of the major differences.

Homeowners – Broader Coverage, More Limited Eligibility than Dwelling Fire

Maine homeowners insurance policies are designed for owner-occupied properties, usually one- or two-family homes. Insurance companies look to write homeowners policies on well-maintained year-round homes with good claim history.

Homeowners policies provide coverage for more classes of property than dwelling fire policies. Dwelling fire policies usually provide little or no contents coverage, while homeowners policies aim to cover most of your belongings. You can tailor a homeowners policy for special types of property like jewelry, art or firearms. These aren’t well covered by off-the-shelf homeowners policies or dwelling fire policies.

Dwelling Fire Policy – A La Carte Coverage for Unique Properties

Dwelling Fire policies are designed to cover only the things you or the insurance company want to. Is your roof is in poor shape? Your insurance company might exclude damage for water leaks. Own a Maine camp with no plumbing? You don’t need insurance for damage from frozen pipes.  Dwelling fire policies allow you to customize your policy by choosing from the basic DP-1 form, the broader DP-2 form, or the broadest DP-3 form.

Liability coverage on a dwelling fire policy is limited to the premises. Homeowners liability coverage follows you worldwide. Dwelling fire policies also don’t cover theft of contents. These characteristics make dwelling fire policies ideal for insuring tenant-occupied homes or income properties in Maine.

Comparing Homeowners and Dwelling Fire Policies

comparing homeowners and dwelling fire policy coverage - Noyes Hall & Allen

Get Hazard Insurance in the Portland Maine Area

Do you live in Portland or the southern Maine area? Do you own rental or income property? We’re happy to answer your questions about hazard insurance for your mortgage lender, homeowners insurance or dwelling fire insurance. We can explain the difference between various policies. We offer a choice of several insurance companies, so we can shop and compare insurance for you, and help you choose the proper insurance to meet your needs. We’re independent and committed to you. Call Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541, or click the “get a quote” link above.

Retirement in Maine: How to Reduce Insurance Expenses

If you’re planning to retire or recently retired, CONGRATULATIONS! It’s time to enjoy what you’ve worked so hard for. Many people dream of retiring in Maine. Of course, some of us are lucky enough to already live here!


Retirement finances can be a source of anxiety. No matter how much you’ve saved for retirement, you may wonder:

  • Will I Outlive My Money?
  • How Can I Safely Reduce My Monthly Expenses?
  • Can I Reduce My Insurance Now that I’m Retired?
  • Can I Live on My Monthly Retirement Income?

retirement insurance expense reductionMaine Retirees Are:

  • House Rich – Maine condo and home values are at an all-time high. With even modest savings, you may have a lot of net worth to protect. Make sure you have enough insurance to rebuild or relocate after a disaster. Protect your assets against lawsuits from injuries or property damage you might cause.
  • Income Tight – You’re on a fixed income. Every monthly payment reduces your retirement fund. You watch expenses more closely than ever.
  • Closer to Home? – Travel is now for pleasure, not work. You may drive fewer miles than you used to. Do you plan go south in the winter? What happens to your home and your car while you’re away?
  • Uncertain About the Future – will you stay healthy enough to do the things you want to? If there’s a disaster, will you have enough money to live the life you do now? If you can’t drive, who will help you with your errands?
  • Done with Property Maintenance  – you spent years mowing, shoveling, landscaping and painting. Now someone else can climb the ladder or wrestle the snowblower. Hiring contractors can open you up to liability if they hurt someone – or themselves.

Do You Need Less Insurance in Retirement?

As you prepare for retirement in Maine, you may be eager to reduce your insurance costs. You want to keep monthly expenses down because you’re on a limited income. But you also want to protect the assets you’ve spent your life accumulating. A good insurance agent can help you pick the coverage you need within your budget.

5 Retirement Planning Insurance Value Tips

  1. Buy enough liability insurance – and not too much.

    Your auto and homeowners liability insurance limits should at least equal your net worth. If your total assets exceed $500,000, keep your umbrella policy (or buy one). Umbrella policies are one of the best insurance buys; $1 million coverage often costs less than $200 a year.

  2. Watch Your Maximum Out of Pocket

    How much are you comfortable paying if something bad happens? Choose your home and auto insurance deductibles with that in mind. Larger deductibles reduce your monthly insurance costs.

  3. Compare Insurance Prices

    Because you’ll drive differently, and won’t be working any longer, your underwriting profile changes. Your current insurance company may still be the best value. Or maybe not. A Maine independent insurance agency like Noyes Hall & Allen can compare prices and coverage among several insurance companies with one phone call.

  4. Keep Maintaining Your Property

    Regular maintenance helps you budget your expenses and maximize your insurance options real estate value. If you want to change insurers, your new insurance company will inspect your home. Even if you don’t change companies,  your insurer may inspect from time to time. If they find something that they’re concerned about, they will require you to repair it. It’s better to keep up with repairs and maintenance on your own timetable.

  5. Choose Contractors Wisely

    Hire reputable and trustworthy people to work in and on your property. Ask them for proof of insurance. If they hurt someone or damage their property, or injure themselves, they should be responsible – not you. When hiring cleaning people, home health care or similar service providers, ask if they are bonded.  Bonding protects you against theft by someone you’ve let into your home.

Want a Pre-Retirement Insurance Review?

If you’re thinking about retirement in southern Maine, call a Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance agent in South Portland at 207-799-5541. Or, get several insurance quotes online from our website. We can help you check your current insurance, and let you know if it’s the best value. We can also give you cost-effective advice to customize your insurance to your exciting new life. If you’re moving to Maine in retirement, and looking for a new insurance agent, we’re happy to help. We offer a choice of several of Maine’s top insurers and can do the comparing for you. We can even introduce you to some wonderful local realtors and financial planners.

Either way, you’ll know that your insurance is solid and the cost is reasonable as you head into retirement. At Noyes Hall & Allen, we’re independent and committed to you.

The Most Important Insurance for Maine Cyclists

If you know me, you know that I like to bike year-round. Not every day, but most. I’m not alone. Two of our current staff of 10 regularly bikes to work.

bike commuter insurance guysWe’re lucky to live and work in the Portland area. Maine is ranked #17 most bike-friendly state by the League of American Cyclists. The Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Facebook group has more than 650 members (including me).

As a bike commuting insurance agent, it’s about time I wrote to explain how common insurance policies can protect cyclists, and suggest the best insurance coverage for Maine cyclists. The good news: many cyclists already have the basic coverage; they may just need to adjust their policies to get the best protection.

Car Insurance for Bicycles?

Most cyclists are also drivers, so they have car insurance. They’re probably unaware that their auto policy protects them when they’re cycling.  One part, Uninsured Motorist Coverage, is especially critical when you’re riding your bike:

Uninsured Motorist coverage protects you against injury

  • caused by an accident that’s someone else’s fault
  • if that person had no insurance or insufficient insurance

UM coverage can pay:

  • hospital and medical care
  • prescriptions and therapy
  • lost wages
  • pain & suffering

How Uninsured Motorist Coverage Works

UM covers the difference between the limit you purchased and what the responsible party bought. An example: someone with Maine state minimum limits ($50,000 per person) hits you. Your medical bills, lost wages and pain & suffering total $100,000. Your UM policy will pay $50,000 if you purchased at least $100,000 of coverage.

Key Takeaways:

  • Buy as much UM coverage as you can. For most Maine auto policies that’s $500,000.
  • Some umbrella policies allow you to include UM up to an additional $1 million.
  • Even if you don’t own a car, you can buy a “named non-owner” policy, including UM coverage.

Bicycle Coverage on Home, Condo or Renters Insurance

The most common Maine property insurance policies cover:

  • Your bike and accessories against 16 “named perils”, including theft and vehicle damage.
  • Injuries or Property damage you cause to others while cycling
  • Legal defense against lawsuits for injuries or property damage.

They do NOT cover:

  • Collisions or dumping
  • Road damage such as potholes
  • Falling off a vehicle rack, driving into the garage with the bike on the roof rack, etc.

Key Takeaways:

  • Buy “replacement cost” coverage to avoid depreciation.
  • Buy “open perils” (sometimes called HO-5) homeowners coverage. This greatly expands the 16 named perils described above.
  • Your deductible will apply. Keep the value of your bike in mind when you choose deductibles.
  • Some insurance companies allow you to “schedule” your bike, which provides better (“open perils”) coverage, often at no deductible.

Related Post: HO-5 vs. HO-3 Homeowners Policies. What’s the Difference?


How Are Scooters, Mopeds or E-Bikes Insured?

Scooters, mopeds and similar self-propelled vehicles are considered “motor vehicles” by insurance policies. They should be insured on an auto or motorcycle policy. Maine State Law requires proof of auto insurance to register them. The insurance isn’t very expensive.

E-bikes are unique. They’re not considered to be “motor vehicles” by most auto insurance. But they ARE defined as motor vehicles on most homeowners policies, and thus EXCLUDED. That means no property OR liability coverage for e-bikes.

A few specialty e-bike insurance programs exist. For now, we recommend that you buy coverage from them to protect yourself against liability, theft and more. If you do purchase special insurance for your e-bike, pay particular attention to your Uninsured Motorist coverage. As of 2019, Noyes Hall & Allen sells a product that can provide up to $500,000 liability and UM coverage for e-bike owners.


FMI: Electric Bikes and Insurance – from Bike Law Maine


If you’re a cyclist in Maine, and have questions about insuring yourself or your bike, call Noyes Hall & Allen at 207-799-5541. We understand cyclists and insurance. We’d be happy to help you protect yourself better. We offer a choice of Maine’s top insurance companies, and know how to advocate for our clients. We’re independent and committed to you.


Resources:

Maine’s data card from League of American Cyclists (.pdf)

Bicycle Coalition of Maine website

Portland Maine Bicycle Commuting Facebook Group

How to Compare Insurance Prices and Policies

There are many ways to compare auto, home, condo or renters insurance prices. Most people prefer to save time and work by getting several quotes at the same time.

Two common methods: contact a local independent agent; or get multiple quotes from an app or web site. Businesses that produce these quote sites are called “aggregators”.

Online Insurance Sites & Apps: easy to use, but…

Online insurance shopping sites and apps are usually well-designed, easy and convenient to use.

Most don’t sound anything like an insurance company. They’re often named after a food or an animal, for some reason. Or they sound like tech companies.

That’s because most are not insurance companies. They’re really lead generators. And you’re the product they sell. Although insurance aggregators promise quotes, they rarely present firm numbers. Instead, they sell your information to insurance agents and companies. It’s up to those agents to try to close the sale.

And they’re relentless.

My Insurance Shopping Nightmare

I tried getting quotes recently. I’d barely clicked “submit” when my phone started ringing. It didn’t stop for 2 days. My voice mail clearly says I’m an insurance agent. You’d think they would quickly figure out that I wasn’t going to buy from them. But they kept calling back. And the emails! I gave them credit for persistence even as I cursed their repeated interruptions.

Think that’s unusual? Google insurance quote scams.

Of course, not all insurance quote sites are the same. Some provide an estimated price at the end of your session. But most of those still need more information from you to produce a policy. That can change the price.

Independent Agents: good insurance takes time

Independent insurance agents also offer several insurance options at the same time. They are locally owned businesses. There are about 35,000 in the US.

Call or visit an IA and you’ll spend 10 minutes answering the questions they need to quote. Then, the agent compares rates and coverage and presents a recommendation.

Instead of just taking your order, good independent agents use their local market and insurance knowledge to recommend the right solution. It may take a bit more time than the aggregator’s app, but that can be a great investment if  it helps you avoid an expensive mistake.

Some independent agents are more aggressive than others. Some even buy leads from aggregators. A few (like us) offer online insurance quotes 24/7 on their website. Most don’t share your personal information with anyone else.

It’s smart to shop your insurance

Savvy consumers know to compare insurance prices. You can call several “one company stores”; give your information to an online aggregator; or choose a local independent agent that you trust. If you’re in Southern Maine, Noyes Hall & Allen Insurance might be the agent you trust. Find out. Call us at 207-799-5541, get insurance quotes online, or stop by our South Portland office. We’re independent and committed to you.