Frequently Asked Questions | Spencer Insurance Agency, Inc

Frequently Asked Questions


General FAQs

Q: Why doesn’t the agency call in a claim for a client?

A:  It is important to our agency that you receive top notch service from our agency and our companies when you file a claim.

Most of our companies prefer Direct Loss Reporting, meaning that the client will call them directly to report a claim.  You may ask “why do I call in the claim and not the agency?”

There are many reasons why we want you to report your claims directly to the company.  Claims are handled much faster when reported directly from the client and payments to our clients happen much faster.

There is a lot of information that claim departments need from our clients.  Many times we do not have the answers to some of the questions asked which delays the claim until the claim adjustor reaches the client. Many times the client and claims adjustor play telephone tag delaying the claim.

By calling in the claim directly our clients can answer all questions directly and often get immediate instruction on what to do next.  Our client’s questions are answered immediately leading to a much happier client.

We still monitor your claims.   Our agency does not settle claims or assign fault for claims, however we can make sure that the process goes as smooth as possible. If you have any questions or concerns after talking with a claim adjustor please call us. Direct Loss reporting will get the claim settled faster and the money in your pocket sooner.  If you have any questions on this process give us a call.

Q: Why do I need to contact Spencer Insurance when I pay off the loan on my car or pay off my mortgage?

A:  Mortgagees and Lien holders have rights under your auto and homeowner’s policies.  In the case of a claim the lien holder on your car wants to make sure you repaired the car.  Likewise, your mortgage company wants to make sure your house was repaired after a claim.

If you have a claim, your insurance company sends the check to the named insured that is payable to both the named insured and the lienholder/mortgage company.  This is no longer necessary if you pay off your loan.

Many times our agency finds out the loan has been paid off after the check goes to our client.  This creates a delay in our client receiving their payment as they need to get the previous lien holder or mortgagee to endorse the check or have the check reissued.

Don’t let this happen to you.  Notify us immediately when you pay off your car loan or mortgage.

Q: What do you do with my email address?

A: Email has become a valuable means of instant communication for many of our clients.  However, some clients do not have email addresses or do not check their email addresses frequently.  Therefore, rest assured, we will continue to contact you by phone, fax or mail if necessary.  Our privacy notice clearly states that we will not share our client information, so be assured we will not pass on your email address.

Email addresses have allowed us to instantly send forms and information to our clients.  Have you ever been in a spot where you needed your auto ID card and could not find it?  We will email it to you so you have it instantly.  Email also allows us to follow up with you about information you requested.

Email allows Spencer Insurance to send you valuable tips on how to avoid or reduce claims saving you money (your deductible) and time.  We may also alert you about a potential hazard such as a Tropical Storm or flood.

Send us an email to info@spencerinsurance.com to make sure we have your current email address.  If you have multiple email addresses let us know which one you would like us to use.  Email addresses change frequently so email us to make sure we have your current valid email address.  Lastly, make sure you add our email to your safe sender list so it does not get lost in your spam or junk folders.

Q: In the past I received my Social Security statement by mail near my birthday. I have not received one recently, what happened?

A: The U.S. Social Security Administration no longer mails the statements.  You can still get your statement annually by creating an online account on “My Social Security.” Visit www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount and click where it says “Create an Account.”

To set up an account you need to be 18 years old and have a valid email address, social security number and U.S. mailing address.  When you set it up you will be asked for some personal information to verify your identity.

After you set up your account you will be able to get your Social Security Statement and can print or save the statement.  This statement is very valuable when planning your financial and life insurance needs.  It also tells you your options for your benefits at retirement, disability benefits, and your family survivor benefit.

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Life FAQs

Q: How much Life Insurance do I need?

A: That is a great question.  It tells me that you are giving some thought to why you have life insurance. The answer to this question is not that complex.  It does not take a 10 page computer printout.

Unfortunately the answer I hear given the most when I see an article in the paper or hear someone on the radio talking about life insurance is that you should have 10 times your salary or some other multiple of your salary. Everyone’s situation is different and relying on this type of estimate is not a good idea.  If you have four children, then your needs will be different than a single person.

I use a four part questionnaire that will ask you about final expenses, debt, income replacement and education funding.  After discussing these factors I will estimate how much life insurance you will need to reach your goals.

Give us a call today and get a FREE Life Insurance review.  Don’t wait until it is too late.  Protect your family today!

Q: Should I purchase the supplemental Life Insurance offered by my employer?

A: Many employers offer Group Life Insurance coverage.  Some of this coverage is provided free as an employee benefit.  Many times you can purchase supplemental coverage and the cost will be deducted from your paycheck.

Should I buy this additional coverage?  There are pros and cons.

Here are the pros:

  • Very convenient as the premium is deducted from your paycheck
  • Few medical questions are asked so it is easier to apply
  • No blood tests or other lab work is required
  • Many times the rates are blended with non-smoker rates making them lower for smokers.
  • Many times the rates are unisex which will make male rates less expensive

Here are the cons:

  • Group life rates are banded based on rates and typically increase every 5 years.
  • Group life rates are blended so if you are a healthy non-smoker you could get the same rate as a chain smoking unhealthy person.
  • The amount of life insurance you can purchase is limited and may not be sufficient for your needs.
  • May lose the coverage if you leave the employer
  • Rates can increase immediately if the employer chooses a new life insurance company.

What should I do?

Contact us today at 215-885-2200 to review your life insurance needs and the cost of your employer’s life insurance coverage before your next open enrollment.  Most open enrollments happen in the fall so this is a great time to review that coverage.

Consider purchasing life insurance on your own for the following reasons.

  • You can lock into a rate for up to 30 years.  The cost of your employer group coverage changes based on age bands every 5 years. Your coverage may look inexpensive now but what will you be paying in 10 years?
  • You won’t lose your life insurance coverage if you get laid off or change jobs.
  • If you are a healthy non-smoker you may find less expensive rates.
  • You will be able to purchase the amount you need.

 

Go to our website www.spencerinsurance.com and click on the Life Insurance Tab for more information and a free report “What you need to know about Life Insurance and How to Make sure the People You Intended to get your Life Insurance Benefits Actually Get the Benefits!”

Check it out before it is too late!

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Auto FAQs

Q: Should I call you when I purchase a new car?

A: Always give Spencer Insurance a call when you are purchasing a new car.  In the last couple of months, two of our clients called to find out why their new car was not on their insurance policy.  It turns out that the dealer told them they would call our office to add the car, but the dealer never made the call.  Fortunately, in these cases we became aware of the purchase before there was an accident or claim.

Always call us BEFORE you drive a new car off the lot to confirm you have coverage on your car insurance policy.  Leaving it up to the dealer, leaving a voicemail or email is not recommended without a follow up call to our office.  No coverage is bound until you talk to someone at our office. We will contact you and send you a letter confirming that the change was made.

Q: I am storing my car for the winter; can I drop the car insurance on that vehicle?

A: Pennsylvania law does not allow you to have a car registered that does not have car insurance.  If you store a car temporarily and want to remove the car insurance on that vehicle you need to send your license plate back to the state.  If you don’t return the plate you can be fined, your registration can be suspended, and you can have your license suspended if found driving a car without insurance.

If you want to store a vehicle for the winter or any other time of year call our office to discuss your options.  Check with us before you get fined.  Other states may have similar laws so always check first.

For more information on the PA law, go to PennDOT’s website at http://www.dmv.state.pa.us.

For New Jersey and Delaware’s DMV websites visit our website under the “Links” section.

Q: Do I have coverage if I rent a U-Haul Truck?

A: Our agency is asked this question many times especially this time of year as parents bring there children back from college or help them move into their first house or apartment. The auto policy only applies to private passenger autos, a pickup or van.  Trucks are not included as a covered auto on your policy.  Therefore we suggest you buy the insurance being offered by the rental company.

Q: I am going on vacation this summer and I am renting a car.  Should I purchase the LDW (Loss Deductible Waiver)?

A: Spencer Insurance cannot make this decision for you; however we will provide you some guidance.  It may make sense to purchase this coverage but it will cost you some additional money.

Advantages of purchasing LDW:

  • Waives responsibility for all losses to the car, loss of use, towing and storage fees, etc.
  • You do not pay a deductible
  • You have an immediate settlement and do not have the aggravation of filing a claim with your Personal Auto Insurance Company
  • Protects the renter’s Personal Auto Policy.  Since you did not make a claim on your personal auto policy your rates will not increase due to the accident.
  • Most Personal Auto Policies only cover you when you are in the United States, Puerto Rico or Canada

Disadvantages of purchasing LDW:

  • The cost
  • Coverage is voided for restricted use or unauthorized driver

Disadvantages of relying on your Personal Auto Policy:

  • If you do not have physical damage coverage on any of your personally owed cars you have no physical damage on the rental car since the coverage for the rental car follows the coverage on your personal auto.
  • Loss of use is limited or excluded
  • Towing and storage fees limited or excluded
  • You pay a deductible
  • Problems with settlement
  • Possible premium increase
  • You may be delayed at the rental car counter when you return the car

You need to decide if paying the additional cost for the LDW is warranted.  Hopefully this summary will guide you in your decision.  Please call our office to discuss this topic BEFORE you rent the car to make sure your coverage will extend to the car you are renting.

Q: Why do I need to carry high limits for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage?

A: When reviewing a prospective client’s coverage, I often find that they have high liability limits but minimum limits of $15,000 per person and $30,000 per accident for Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage.  This makes no sense to me.

It is important to have high limits of liability to protect you in the event of a lawsuit, but why would you not protect yourself from an uninsured or underinsured motorist?

Uninsured Motorist and Underinsured Motorist Coverage protect you in the event you are seriously injured in an accident and the responsible party has no insurance or has low limits of liability.

By having high limits of liability coverage and low limits of Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage, you are making sure that the other party is protected while you leave yourself bare.

You should make sure that your limits are the same for Liability and Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage. Then, if you are seriously injured in an accident and the party at fault does not have insurance or has low limits of insurance you are protected since you can recover these damages from your insurance company.

Check with us if you have any questions.  A few dollars saved by lowering this coverage can cost you BIG $$$ later.  Don’t be caught short!

Q: What is a NAIC number and where do I find it?

A: When you renew your vehicle registration through the mail you are asked for the NAIC number of your insurance company. Every insurance company licensed to conduct business in Pennsylvania has been issued a National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) number. This number appears on most, but not all insurance cards. You will not find the number on your policy or bill.   If you are not able to locate your NAIC number on your insurance card give our office a call and we will give you the number.   Please note that you do not need your NAIC code to renew your vehicle registration online.

Q: Where can I find a Pennsylvania’s Mature Driver Improvement Course location?”

A: Save money on your auto insurance premium!  If you are a Pennsylvania driver 55 years of age or older then you can qualify for a 5% savings on your auto insurance premium by taking a state approved Mature Driver Course.

After you complete the course, send us a copy of your completion certificate.  Your discount will become effective on your next renewal and will last 3 years.  Every 3 years you can take a refresher course so you can continue to receive the discount.

 

Find a course near you:

  •  Contact Seniors For Safe Driving at 800-559-4880
  • aaa logoContact your local AAA office.  AAA has an online  course for your convenience.

Email me at cspencer@spencerinsurance.com if you took the course at another location so we can share that with our clients.

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Home FAQs

Q: I receive mailings from my water company to purchase coverage to replace or repair my water lines from the street to my house if they break or leak.  Is this covered by my homeowner’s insurance?

A: The water line from the street to your meter is your responsibility and not your Water Company’s responsibility.  You must pay for repairs or replacement should it leak.  Homeowner’s coverage does not pay for any plumbing work or replacement of pipes.  This is considered wear and tear of the house and is excluded under your policy.  The excavation to uncover the pipes is also excluded.

I would suggest you read over the offer from your water company and then make a decision as to its merits.  You may want to take into account the age of the pipes.  If the water company is doing work on your street it may put stress on old pipes and cause them to break.  You may want to consider replacing the pipe to avoid a cracked pipe and service disruption in the future.

Q:I have a child going away to live at college. Does he/she need a renter’s policy or is their stuff covered under my homeowner’s policy?

A: Generally, as long as your child is a full time student was a resident of your house before moving to college and is under age 24 there is some coverage for the students “stuff” while it is at school.  However, if there is coverage it is generally limited to 10% of your contents (Coverage C) on your homeowner’s policy.  So if your house is insured for $200,000 and your contents limit is $140,000, then your child would have $14,000 of coverage for the “stuff” in his dorm room.

What if my child is over 23 or a graduate student?  What if my child has a roommate and they buy “stuff” together?  What if my child has permanently moved out of my house?   Are the computers or musical instruments covered?  Call us today at 215-885-2200 to make sure you have the proper coverage.

 

Q: Why are my Homeowner’s Insurance rates going up when I never filed a claim?

A: Yes, most of our clients are seeing rate increases on their Homeowner’s Insurance even when they have not made a claim.  There are many reasons why this is happening. Let’s look at a few reasons:

  • Due to the number of natural disasters that have occurred in the last few years there has been a high demand for building supplies to repair or replace homes.  This increased demand increases the cost of these supplies making rebuilding a home more expensive. Insurance companies want to make sure your coverage is still enough to rebuild your home so they will increase your coverage each year by a cost of living adjustment, which in the “rebuilding world” has been around 4 to 5%.  Therefore at minimum, your premium will increase due to the increase in coverage.
  • In the last few years in Pennsylvania we have seen a hurricane, tornados, blizzards, severe thunderstorms and even an earthquake! The frequency of these events has taken its toll on insurance companies.  Many insurance companies are paying out more in claims than they are bringing in with premiums.  One of our carriers had more claims in the first six months of 2011 than they had in all of 2010.  These claim results were not anticipated when the rates were set up.  Adjustments to rates are necessary to maintain availability of homeowners insurance in Pennsylvania.
  • It is important that you report claims as soon as possible directly to the insurance company.  This will speed up the claims process.  However, after you report the claim call and discuss your claim with us.  Most companies offer a “Loss Free” discount and also charge an additional premium if you make a claim. This could result in a large increase in your insurance rates.  Discuss your claim with us so we can review your options and make sure you don’t receive a small claim payout and get hit with a large rate increase.

The real question you should be asking is not “Are my Homeowner’s Insurance rates going up”, but “Do I have the proper coverage to protect me from all these events and are my Homeowner’s rates competitive?”

This is where Spencer Insurance Agency can help you. . .

Spencer Insurance Agency understands that the price of your insurance is important to your budget. However we realize that your “True Cost of Insurance” can be much higher if you are not properly protected. Always contact us before switching companies.

Spencer Insurance Agency customizes your insurance package to reflect the risk you face.  As Independent Insurance Agents, Spencer Insurance Agency represents several top rated insurance companies and can choose the company that has the right insurance package for your needs. We do the research for you. Spencer Insurance Agency may not be the lowest or highest price, but you will know you have the proper protection at a very competitive price.  Check with us to make sure you are getting all the discounts for which you are entitled.  Consider insuring your auto and home with the same company to maximize your discounts.

As the saying goes.  . . Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish!  Call us today for a review.

Q: Why am I insuring my home for a value higher than the Market Value of my home?

A: Home market values reflect today’s economic conditions, taxes and many other factors that have little to do with home reconstruction costs. Reconstruction Cost can be pricey.  Reconstruction Cost – the cost to rebuild your home to original specifications with similar materials and craftsmanship – is generally more expensive than building a new home from scratch. In fact, experts say that it costs up to 30 percent more to rebuild a house than to rebuild new*. Why?

Builders used for reconstruction require a higher skill set, as they have limited onsite mobility and must work around existing structures, landscaping and power lines using smaller machinery. Typically, new homes built today are part of a housing development which allows contractors to purchase lumber, electrical and plumbing supplies in bulk at discounted prices.

Rebuilding may require contactors to meet new building codes put in place since your home was originally built.

Industry data reveals an estimated 64 percent of homeowners are underinsured by an average of 19 percent!*

If you have added an addition or have remodeled your home please call us today to make sure you have the proper coverage.

*Researched by Marshall & Swift/Boeckh, 2008

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Umbrella FAQs

Q:  What is a Personal Umbrella Policy?

A:  A Personal Umbrella Policy is a liability policy that will provide you additional liability coverage if your limits on your personal auto policy or homeowner’s policy are exhausted.  It can also provide coverage for liability gaps in your auto and homeowner’s policies.  It is named umbrella since it is placed above your auto and homeowner’s policies.

If you are involved in a serious accident and your limits on your auto policy are exhausted, you will then have an additional layer of protection.  Umbrella policies generally start at $1,000,000 in coverage.

To learn more about Umbrella Insurance go to our website at www.spencerinsurance.com and click on the resources tab.  Look under Free Reports for our Free Report on Umbrella Insurance.

The cost of Umbrella Insurance can be less than $200 a year.  Call us today at 215-885-2200 for a no obligation quote.  Don’t let an accident bankrupt you.  Protect your assets with the purchase of an umbrella policy.

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Business FAQs

Q: Can you insure our business?

A: Yes, you have trusted us for years with your home and auto insurance, so why not check with us about your business insurance?

Many of our clients are not aware that we can provide the same guidance we provide for your personal insurance to your business.  Just like your personal situation every business has different needs.

Our approach is the same for business insurance as it is with personal insurance.  How are we different than any other broker?

We will not just look at your current policies and then promise to save you money; in fact it may cost you more after we are done our review.  Why??  You may not have the right protection.

There are many questions we could ask you depending on your business.  Our approach is to sit down with you and learn about your business.  What do YOU need to protect? What keeps you up at night? After we learn about your business we review your current coverage to see if there are any gaps, then we fill those gaps.  We will provide a very competitive package based on your needs.  Remember, the “True Cost of Insurance” includes the out of pocket expenses you must pay because you do not have the right coverage.

If your current agent is asking these questions and you are satisfied with their service then stay with them.  If you are not prepared to spend some time with us talking about your business and providing us the financials and loss reports we need then stay with your current agent.  However, if your agent is not asking these types of questions and you want a professional review of your protection call us and get a second opinion.  We will provide you the same complete review of your business insurance needs that you are accustomed to receiving from us for your personal insurance needs.

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