Thursday, February 19, 2015

How ‘spending 15 minutes or less’ on insurance can HURT you

Almost 60 percent of consumers who purchased insurance through a direct insurer (promising lower prices) 10 years ago or more said they switched back to an independent insurance agent, according to a 2013 study conducted by InsightExpress, an independent marketing research firm.

Why? They wanted:
-Someone to guide them through the insurance purchasing process
-One point of contact
-Personal advice from an experienced insurance professional.

What these consumers described is what independent insurance agents do. We are business professionals who have access to multiple insurance companies but represent you. We know different insurers’ underwriting styles and the nuances of their different policies. This broad background helps us give you sound advice specific to your situation.

Managing your risks is key
Insurance is all about managing your risks. We believe insurance should protect you and all your assets, so we look at the big picture. We ask questions, explain different kinds of coverage and how having or not having them could affect you.

What you choose for one type of coverage, like auto insurance, can impact all your assets – so we shop around for the best prices and coverage to offer you a complete package.

What can go wrong?
Some competitors are only interested in one piece of the puzzle. They entice you with a lower rate on a single type of insurance, but less coverage.

Looking at it piecemeal instead of as an entire solution can lead to disaster. For example, imagine you purchased lesser coverage through a company that took only 15 minutes to save you money on auto insurance. When you signed up, the rep didn’t ask about the value of your home or tell you that your level of coverage should involve looking at the value of your assets.

Later, you cause a horrible car accident. Your auto insurer writes a check that doesn’t cover the victim’s expenses, and that ends the insurer’s obligation to you.  The injured victim sues you for $1 million. If your home is your biggest asset, you’ll face losing it and your savings.

How an independent agent could have helped
In that scenario, you didn’t have all the facts up front. We could have suggested umbrella coverage. But with a telephone or online quote, this probably wasn’t an option.

Our competitors are at a disadvantage because they sell for a single insurance company and are limited to the options offered by their employer.

We don’t have those constraints. And we’re here for you throughout the life of your policy. We answer questions, handle issues and adjust coverage as needed. To file a claim, you call us, not an 800 number. We are with you throughout the process.

Bottom line, when making insurance decisions, turn to the source you can trust. Turn to an independent agent.

This information is brought to you by a proud member of Professional Independent Agents Association of Ohio, Inc.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Be Alert for Skimmers and Scammers! 

By: Mike Dockery & Matt Johnson

The Cincinnati Insurance Company 

Before you swipe your bank card or credit card to make a payment or complete a bank transaction, be alert for skimmer devices attached inside or over the real card reader. Criminals use skimmers to capture the information from the magnetic strip on credit or debit cards, gaining unauthorized access to consumer accounts. 

Skimmers have become increasingly prevalent as they are easy to put in place. The skimmer device fits right over or inside the real card reader. When the card is swiped, it passes through the skimmer before going into the real reader. Skimmers have popped up at bank drive-through ATMs, gas stations and other businesses, especially in remote locations or places that are difficult to monitor.

There are a few things you can do to make sure your account information stays safe.

Look before you swipe  

Look for signs of tampering or bulkiness of the card reader you are about to use. If it looks too thick, damaged, loose or just does not look right, report it to the bank or business and use a different machine. Consumers have even reported parts of skimmers coming off the ATM. The FBI offers additional tips and illustrations of what to look for. If you see someone tampering with or hanging around an ATM machine, report this information as soon as possible to law enforcement or the bank or related business hosting the machine. Sometimes criminals hang around machines to collect information via a Bluetooth connection or wait for an opportunity to add a skimmer or make changes to a machine.

Protect your chipped card  

Many newer credit cards have radio frequency identification (RFID) chips. The chips use a wireless, electromagnetic field to transmit information across short distances. Criminals use small remote skimmers that can be concealed in a pocket to collect information from the RFID chip. With these skimmers, the card need not be physically swiped to compromise the information. The electronic pickpocket need only walk a few feet away from you to collect information from the chip.
To prevent information theft, use a card carrier with a lined casing to shield the signal from the card. The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation put out a Consumer Alert describing additional measures you can take, such as stacking several RFID-equipped cards together.

What to do if you're hacked 
If you do fall victim to a skimmer or RFID scam, immediately report it to law enforcement, providing as many details as possible. Contact the security department of your bank or the retailer whose card was compromised. Close the account and put a fraud alert on your credit file. Find additional information to protect your accounts on our identity theft prevention site and from the Federal Trade Commission.