Friday, February 18, 2011

Insurance Score, Credit Score, and You…

Insurance scoring is a system that is used by various insurance companies to predict risk. It is not the same thing as a credit score; however, it does use a lot of the same characteristics. Many insurance companies include credit-based insurance scoring as one of the factors that goes in to the final rate that you will be charged by the insurance company. As a result, monitoring your credit report and increasing your credit score can actually impact the pricing of your homeowners and automobile insurance.

Unfortunately, I can’t tell you how each company comes up with their insurance credit scoring models since that information is top-secret and proprietary to each individual insurance company. However, I can tell you that it is becoming extremely important to monitor what is listed in your credit report.

I realize that there are a lot of catchy jingles on commercials these days to get your attention and attract your clicks online. Some of these websites claim to offer free credit reports, scores, or monitoring. However, the official site that was established by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to help consumers obtain their free credit report is

This website will allow you to monitor all three (3) credit bureaus: Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian. The information in each file can be different so it is important to check all three bureaus on a regular basis.

The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) requires each of the nationwide consumer reporting companies to provide you with a free copy of your credit report, at your request, once every 12 months. A fun and cost effective way to do this is to order a report from Equifax in January, TransUnion in May, and Experian in September. The actual order is not important. The important part is that you are ordering a free report from a different credit bureau every four (4) months. That way it is totally free, and a proactive approach for the entire year rather than checking once a year. Periodically checking your credit report will be more beneficial in the long run.

In conclusion, work to try to increase your credit score so that you can decrease your insurance premiums.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Auto Insurance Basics

People know that they are required to carry auto insurance, but few really know what they are paying for each month. When is the last time that you took a look at your auto policy? What type of coverage have you purchased? What are you required to carry and what is extra? Here are some hints:

If you own a car you are required to carry Liability Insurance. Liability pays when you are responsible for bodily injury and property damage to others. There are many different levels of liability insurance that you can buy. The lower your limits, the lower your premium. But you are also less protected in the event that you are sued because of an accident, thus exposing your assets. You can spend a little more money for higher liability coverage which better protects you and your assets in the event of something catastrophic.

To protect your own vehicle against physical damage then you can purchase Comprehensive and Collision coverage. Comprehensive coverage pays for losses caused by a peril other than collision such as fire, theft, vandalism, or a cracked windshield. This coverage is subject to a deductible. Collision coverage pays to repair your vehicle in the event that you collide with another vehicle or object, subject to your deductible.

A deductible is the portion of the loss that you are responsible for paying prior to the insurance company paying out on a claim. The higher the deductible you choose, the lower your premium and vice versa. It is important to choose deductibles that you could reasonably afford to pay out of pocket in the event of a claim.

There are a few extra and important coverages that can be added to an auto policy. Towing or Roadside Assistance coverage is helpful in the event that your car breaks down and needs to be towed to a repair facility. Rental Reimbursement is also a valuable coverage since it pays for you to rent a car when your vehicle is being repaired as a result of a covered loss.

Take a few minutes to review your own auto policy to figure out what coverage you have. If you don’t understand something, call your agent and ask the question. Insurance educator John Eubank, CPCU, ARM, put it best:

"Lack of coverage is remembered long after the price is forgotten.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What is Liability Insurance, and why is it so important?

Liability insurance provides protection from claims that arise when you are responsible for causing bodily injury to someone else or damaging someone else’s property. Basically, this insurance pays when you are “liable” for injury or damages. Liability is an essential part of both a property policy (home, condo or renter’s insurance), as well as an auto insurance policy.

Ok, now that you have the dictionary definition, what does it REALLY mean, and how does it pertain to you and your life? Here are some “real life” examples to ponder:

  • Say you were hosting a party at your home and someone fell down the steps and broke their leg. The injured party would most likely present a claim against you to be compensated for their medical bills and “pain and suffering”.
  • What if you owned a condo or were renting an apartment and accidentally started a fire which caused damage to the adjoining units? The neighboring units could present a claim against your policy to have their damages paid.
  • Driving down the road one night, you hit a patch of black ice and slide into the car in front of you. The car that was struck could go after you for not only the damage that was done to their vehicle, but also for any injury sustained.

It is important to carry liability limits on your policies which are high enough to protect your assets. In the event of a catastrophic liability claim (i.e. you struck and killed a pedestrian while driving your car), you can be sued. In the event of a lawsuit, the courts will first exhaust the limits on your insurance policies, but for any damages over and above those limits (or if you don’t have any liability insurance in place) they will go after you personally.

People mistakenly think they do not need renter’s insurance or condo insurance. Even if you feel that your personal property is not worth much, it is worth purchasing this insurance for the liability protection alone. A very basic renter’s or condo insurance policy costs around $200-$300 per year.

People underestimate the importance of liability and think “It will never happen to me.” Hopefully “it” won’t ever happen to you. But, in the event that it does, it’s worth spending a few extra dollars to make sure that you, your family and your financial future are appropriately protected.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Habitat For Humanity 2010

Employees from the Charles R. Grant Insurance Agency, Inc., will be donating their time to give back to the community on Wednesday, October 13, 2010.

We will be spending our time working on the Northeast Parcel as part of our philanthropic efforts in the area. Here are more details from the DC Habitat for Humanity website:

"Currently, we are building a new community in the Northeast Boundary neighborhood of Washington, DC. In 2002, we acquired a 4.3-acre vacant parcel of land in Ward 7 from the DC Housing Authority through a $1 land transfer. The community will contain 53 modest, energy efficient homes, each approximately 1,200 square feet with three bedrooms and one bathroom. DCHFH has completed and sold 45 homes on the Northeast parcel, and six more homes are under construction."

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Website Revitalization

I wanted to let everyone know that we officially updated our website this afternoon while the Washington Redskins lost to the Dallas Cowboys. Bobby Leach (our IT consultant) and I spent 4 hours updating images, adding content, and enhancing the overall website experience for our clients. It is hard to believe that our "new" website was launched almost 3 years ago (May 2007). Although I continue to update the site on a regular basis, it has been a while since we did a major overhaul.

You will notice that we have added new testimonials that we received over the last few months. We have also included links to the following: Facebook, Yelp, and Merchant Circle. However, the biggest change was the "Contact Us" page. We added the group picture from the November/December issue of Bethesda Magazine, and redesigned the entire layout of the page to make it easier for clients to find our contact information.

Today, we also started to integrate our website with the Google webmaster tools. We are hoping that this will boost are search engine listings/rankings.

Overall, we are trying to enhance our Internet presence. We will continue to update and monitor our website statistics using Google Analytics. Please give me a call or send me an email if you have any suggestions for how to improve our website.

Thanks for reading, and Happy Thanksgiving!!


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Website Update

Our website was updated again today, February 25, 2009. It has been several weeks since the last update due to the transfer of our domain hosting to GoDaddy.

Additionally, we transferred our internet hosting to Verizon. Previously we were with Covad, but they were California based, which made it difficult to troubleshoot.

Lastly, we purchased a brand new Dell server for the office. The new server is much more powerful, and it should make us much more efficient.

We are looking forward to putting all of these upgrades to good use in the future.

Thanks for following along.


Tuesday, May 22, 2007

New Website Launched - May 21, 2007

I am pleased to announce the completion of our newly redesigned website. We have spent the last few months talking with our customers and listening to their needs in an effort to create a better design.

We wanted to take this opportunity to personally thank you for your support. It has been extremely rewarding to hear all of the positive feedback from our clients.

Please visit us online and let us know what you think. Once again, we thank you for your support, and we look forward to helping you with your insurance needs in the future.