I have been doing all my Insurance business with Darin and McGhee for well over 10 years and have been extremely satisfied. I find him to be a man of honor and integrity, knowledgeable and professional in all that he does.

I have had a fantastic working relationship and experiences with Libby. She is always very punctual and thorough with every request we ask of her and of course very pleasant to work with! Even when it comes to difficult customers of ours who have had very specific criteria, we could always count on Libby to get it right and work with us to make sure everything was just as we needed.

Debbie Lee
Debco Wallpaper and Paint Inc.

I also want to draw attention to Ms. Judy Hoelewyn whom is my assigned claims associate. She made this process the most painless insurance related experience I have ever had. She sent two emails and we had one brief phone call – that’s it. She did everything, then called to tell me what she did.

“I know I am not your(agent Tiffany Hayes) only client, but thanks for treating me like I am!!”

Started using this company over a decade ago because a friend worked there and it has been the best decision my husband and I made. Started with auto insurance, then bundled home insurance. McGhee ALWAYS searches across multiple companies to find the best rates for your situation and works to get you discounts you may not even know you’re eligible for! We were with AAA for the longest time, but when they stopped covering Arkansas, McGhee shopped around until they found a comparable replacement and then made sure our rates did not go up as well as kept us from losing any amenities/benefits in the transition. Anytime I have an insurance question, I call them and they are quick to assist me. I’ve even called to get rates on small business insurance. I’ve never been disappointed in this company. They are great!

Ron Bruton is the best of the best! I send ALL of my customers to him. Mcghee insurance has very competitive pricing but their their service is what sets them apart. Ron takes excellent care of my customers and he comes highly recommended!

Jessica Woodhull
Centennial Bank

I have always felt that Steve at McGhee insurance had my best interest at heart. After a tornado destroyed most of my equipment and my ability to earn a living, Steve’s commitment to me as a person first and not just a customer were evident. He helped me through this difficult time in working through the claim process with his knowledge and empathy. I would not have wanted anyone else to represent me during this time.

Brad Matthews
Owner, Lasting Impressions Decorative Concrete

Nichole & Sheila are always so friendly & willing to please. On top of their game! Always willing to give a helping hand. If it’s not their department they put someone in touch with me that can take care of my needs. I’m so glad I found them.

We traded vehicles recently, & Progressive wanted twice the monthly premium to insure it. Shelia immediately re-shopped us while we were on the phone & wrote us with Safeco with the small increase of $20 a month! I love her for all she does for us, and that is why we have stayed with McGhee Insurance for over 10 years. She takes such good care of us.

Our company would not be where it is today without the team at McGhee Insurance. Their vast knowledge of the insurance world was evident to me from the very first time I met Andy and Steve. They really make you feel comfortable and provide you with enough information to make a decision regarding your insurance needs. I sincerely appreciate the care they put into finding the right coverage for our business, while also working hard to save us money.

Dustin Botsford
Owner Kings Live Music

I have been a part of the McGhee Insurance family for over 7 years. They currently provide coverage for both my home and auto. I have referred many family and friends for a variety of their services over the years and feel confident that you too, will see the difference in their approach to service. Simply.. they are the best!

Darin Hoover and Nicole Walpole take care of me. Several years ago, I was referred to your agency by a very close friend of mine. Darin and Nicole have been tremendous to work with. No matter what I've needed, Darin has given me sound counsel. I'll just add my name to the list of those who have your company on their "trusted adviser" list.

Homeowner's Insurance Claims-7 Steps to Getting the claim Paid.

A lot of folks never plan to have a homeowner's insurance claim... therefore they "plan to fail" should this occur. Be prepared, follow these simple steps to get there:

1) Keep a detailed inventory of your home. Complete with serial numbers where applicable & photos of each room to "jog" your memory in the case of a loss/claim. These also serve as GREAT supporting evidence to your claims should an adjuster need them. Update this information at the least annually. Save receipts of all future purchases... especially big ticket items. These records should be kept in a very secure place. The first choice is off site storage online... see below for a great resource I have found that you can use for free home inventory and/or online storage for a low fee, the last option is a safe deposit box at your local bank.

NOTE: there are many local inventory companies that will do this for a small fortune, but I do not believe the price is worth the return.

2) Read your homeowner's policy thoroughly... know what is outlined in this contract as your responsibility. Note the obligation you have to notify the carrier if certain changes take place... for example if the home is vacant or you no longer occupy it as your principal residence. Educate yourself about your policy. If you do not understand the language, consult an expert such as an attorney that has experience in reading these contracts. Most importantly, know what it covers.

3) Study the "perils" your policy insures against. If you have a concern over a coverage that is not outlined in your policy as covered or specifically excludes this type of loss... contact your agent. If your agent cannot address your concerns then shop around to other carriers/agents for a policy that will. The probability exists that there is a policy to fit your needs, so be diligent.

4) Maintain your home properly... performing regular/bi-annual maintenance on heat/AC units. Check the AC condensation drain lines/drip pans and clear of obstructions at least once every 2 months during the warm months. Paint/weatherproof the exterior of your home BEFORE it shows signs of weathering... at least every 5 years or as the paint manufacturer recommends. Clear all debris from your roof annually, keeping a watchful eye for shingle deterioration, lifted shingles, broken shingles or signs of wear that suggests the time has come to replace them. If you suspect problems, call a licensed contractor to investigate.

5) The report claims IMMEDIATELY to your insurance company. Consult with your agent... he/she is there to help.

6) After reporting the loss... you have to stop and think, "what can I do, if anything to prevent more damage/loss?" You are required under the contract to do what is "reasonable" to prevent further loss. A great example: if you have a leak in your roof that is dripping from a ceiling inside; place a tarp over the area of roof suspected. Save all receipts for materials used and log time spent... reimbursement is usually available for this expense under covered claims.

7) Before you disturb the damaged area... take photos. The adjuster may need this documentation to process and pay your claim. Provide any and all information upon request by an adjuster. Remember: adjusters are busy people too and the quicker you provide the information requested/needed, the quicker they complete their file and close it to mark off of the "to-do list." Help them help you.


Auto Insurance: common questions when changing cars.

When changing or adding a vehicle to your auto insurance policy the main question that we receive is: "What is my monthly bill going to be?" When adding or changing a vehicle on the policy the insurance company will send out new premium information with the breakdown of the bill usually within 7 to 10 business days.

We are able to see how much the total premium would be from the date you make the changes until the end of your auto insurance policy period, this is called "pro-rated" amount. From there we can give you an estimate on the monthly, but the exact amount will be reflected on the bill received in the mail or online if your set up that way.

For example, if you add a vehicle on the 10th day of the month and your bill is due on the 20th day of the month the change will not reflect until the next bill because there will not be enough time for a new billing statement to be generated and sent to you. It is always best to wait to get the new paperwork in the mail from the company with the formal breakdown.

Another question we receive when making auto insurance changes is: "Why does this vehicle cost more than my last one?" This is very simple. All automobiles have a "rating symbol" that is used to determine the insurance price. The range is numerical from 1-100+. Common cars like a Toyota Camry, for example, will be in the teen's range, while a Corvette may be 60+. The higher the "symbol" the higher the cost for that vehicle to secure Arkansas auto insurance.

It is common that a client will add a newly purchased vehicle and be surprised at the cost and sometimes make the comment they wished they had known that before they bought it! Call us anytime before you buy a vehicle and we can tell you if it's a lower or higher rating symbol, we're happy to help. Also, good to remember that bundling your auto insurance & home insurance with one company saves you money.

 


Good drivers can pay less.

Are you a good driver? Then, you may be surprised to know good drivers pay for bad drivers when it comes to auto insurance. If you're the good driver you're probably overpaying and if you're a bad driver you're probably not paying enough.

To quote Bob Dylan, as he says "things they are a changing."

Have you heard of "paying for auto insurance based on your driving habits" (and not everyone else's'?) That is here and picking up speed. Should you consider it? Maybe. Read on....

Here's how it works: the insurance company monitors certain driving habits such as speed, time of day driven, acceleration, braking and miles driven annually via a small device the owner plugs into the car's diagnostic port. Keep in mind that if you have a smartphone you're already sharing more than you would with one of these devices plugged into your car. Actually, smartphone apps that do this are already out there and will eventually replace the plug in device. Kind of like Fitbit for your car!!!

These driver-monitoring programs have been tried in various forms by insurance companies since the 90's without long term success but as technology has improved so has the ability to do this easily, collect the data and quickly determine the cost of the auto insurance. The end goal is to allow drivers to pay a more true cost of auto insurance based on their driving habits. Good drivers benefit with lower auto insurance pricing, the data overwhelmingly supports this. Right now we are seeing discounts up to 30%, which adds up to several hundred a year in savings.

 

McGhee Insurance Agency offers this as an option through Safeco Insurance Company, a Liberty Mutual Company, and Progressive. Both excellent companies. The discounts available are substantial and more importantly allow you to pay for your driving and not everyone else.


Identity Theft-protect yourself.

Has something ever been stolen from you? How did that make you feel? Of course, it depends on what the object meant to you that was taken.

My 5-year-old, Jack, just started a new summer camp. And like most new schools there is the occasional bully. The first day when I picked him up after camp was over and I asked how his day was, his eyes welled up with tears, and he told me the story of how a mean kid came up to him and broke up the cool Lego ship he worked so hard to build. Then the mean kid took some of the Legos he was using, which meant poor Jack wasn't able to make the same ship again. He was heartbroken.

The same is true when a thief steals our identity and uses it for their own economic gain. When it happens, it is not just our money that is affected. Our hard earned credit can also take a hit, thus changing how the financial market views our name. Credit is not easy to build, as we all know. We must be consistent with every monthly bill. We must be cautious with how much debt we accumulate on our credit cards. And since making enough money takes a considerable amount of effort to feed our family, provide for our lifestyle choices, and pay our bills on time, it can be devastating when someone wants to steal that money for selfish gain, or our credit takes a negative hit due to identity theft.

According to recent statistics, identity theft is the fastest growing crime of the modern day. We are more susceptible to our identity stolen than any other crime. Anytime we give our credit card numbers, our date of birth or SSN, or put in a pin number for a password unless that source has completely protected themselves against predators, our private information is now at risk. Then the criminal can use that personal data to fill in false applications for loans and credit cards, withdrawal from our bank accounts, purchase telephone calling cards or obtain other goods or privileges which the criminal might be denied if they were using their real name.

Identity theft is a real problem. Thankfully, we have a solution. We now offer Identity Shield. Identity Shield cost per month is much less than you would think and can completely monitor your entire identity for you. It is aware of your current spending trends and notices when something looks out of place. If your SSN or DOB or bank account information or credit card numbers are used in a foreign environment, it is immediately identified and puts a stop to the criminal's efforts. And if your credit is damaged or debt placed on your name that does not belong to you, Identity Shield's team of attorneys are there at your disposal, providing help with all the necessary steps to getting your credit and your name back where it belongs.


Health insurance help.

Need health individual/family insurance?

Don’t understand the Obamacare rules?

We can help.

The most important thing to know about health insurance is that you can normally only buy in during the fall period called Open Enrollment. That period runs from November 1 to January 31. To get coverage that begins January 1st you must enroll by December 15th. After December 15th you can still get coverage but it will begin February 1st. If you wait to purchase after January 15th your coverage will begin March 1.

What about outside Open Enrollment?

If you have lost health insurance coverage for any reason other than non-payment of premium you generally can buy health insurance during a Special Enrollment Period. That period lasts 60 days from the date your coverage ended.

What if I missed the 60 days Special Enrollment Period?

You can buy a limited coverage policy called a Short Term policy that offers some protection until the next Open Enrollment period. It is very affordable as it is catastrophic coverage meant to “bridge the gap” until you can buy full coverage.

What if I cannot afford the health insurance?

Depending on your household size and income you might be able to get assistance paying your premiums with tax credits by purchasing coverage through the health insurance exchange called the Marketplace. We can help you do this.

 


Homeowner's insurance: "Why do I need that much coverage?"

Homeowner's insurance is protection for you financially against expensive damages to your home that you would not be able to pay out of your own pocket.  When you invest so much time and your hard earned money into your home, you want to make sure that your investment is protected and protected to the degree that meets your needs.  In the sense that your home was destroyed, would you want the entire home back or just half your home?  Well, most people are going to want to the whole entire home back completely the way it was before.  Would you too, right?  Probably, most do want their home insurance to rebuild 100%, but some do actually want a lower amount.  At times the dollar amount of coverage insurance companies suggest to place on the home seems “really high” and you think “I don’t need that much coverage, I only purchased the home for _______ amount.”

A lot of folks wonder how the home insurance companies come up with the suggested amount of coverage to rebuild 100% of your home.  Let's go through that....

The home insurance company has a software program that takes all the features of your home; square footage, exterior finish, # baths, etc...  Once all of these details are input, the software calculates the cost to not only rebuild the home but to also remove debris of the current home.  It's important to remember this is only an estimate, a suggestion, but a good guide.  

If you're wondering why is the home insurance amount higher than the amount you paid for your home, that's simple: depreciation.  Arkansas has very few areas that home prices outpace reconstruction values.   Therefore, the purchase price of your home has depreciation built in so it will always cost less to buy the home than it would be to rebuild the home board for board.  These home insurance estimates for “reconstruction” include cost of material, labor, etc...in today's market with no depreciation in it because the intent is to put you back to exactly what you were before, no more no less.  

If a home insurance claim does occur, it's hard to imagine all the cost if you experienced a total loss including all the debris left behind from cleaning that up to getting your home rebuilt. I guarantee if you ever do experience a total loss you will be very glad you had all the insurance to get you back to where you started with the same size & type of home.


Why is My Homeowners Insurance Going Up?

Why does my home insurance premium go up every year?  Or, can I get a home insurance company that doesn't raise their rates every year?  

These are the two most common questions I get asked every day of every week for the past 18 years.  It's no wonder consumers are confused and even angry when their home insurance premiums go up by double digit percentages every year when in some cases they have not filed any claims.

The answer: it's complicated!  We can start with the weather.  We have a running joke around the office that we don't have to ask anyone when their roof was last replaced because everyone in Central Arkansas has a new roof including me and most of our Employees.  Since 2008 we have endured too many tornadoes to count, a couple of hurricanes that dumped 5 plus inches of rain each, and so many hail storms that our office joke is no longer funny, especially if you are an insurance company.

In our agency, the average home insurance policy premium is just over $1000.00 and the average roof claim paid out the past 5 years was $8400.00.  That means that for the next 8 years, without counting expenses the insurance company is losing money.  Insurance is a form of shared risk, which also means that even if you don't have a claim, your rates are still going to increase as part of a general rate increase for all customers of that company statewide.

We have a great Department of Insurance here in Arkansas.  Their goal first and foremost is to protect consumers, and they do a great job of holding rate increases down to the absolute minimum required to keep companies here in Arkansas and open for business.  In neighboring states, only a handful of companies is available to write homeowners insurance and consumers have very few choices.

A quick look n the Arkansas Insurance Department website will show you the rate increases that have been approved for home insurance companies in Arkansas.  10-15% seems to be the norm the past few years.  The main factor that goes into the need for a rate increase is a company's loss ratio.  The loss ratio is basically the amount of premium a company takes in minus the amount they pay out for claims.

Another quick look, this time on the internet, will show that popular companies in Arkansas during 2011 had loss ratios ranging from 106-194%.  2008 was worse while 2009 and 2010 were almost as bad.  All told, 2008-2011 were the 4 worst weather years for home insurance in the history of insurance in Arkansas.

After 4 straight years of high double and triple digit loss ratios and no profits, companies either leave the State or raise rates.  They also take away discounts and change underwriting criteria.  Four years ago we could write a home with up to 2 non-weather losses (weather losses do not count in Arkansas, thanks again to the Arkansas Insurance Department.)  Now with most companies, you cannot even have one non-weather loss or you become ineligible.

Rest assured that your local insurance agent along with their representative companies and the Arkansas Insurance Department are doing everything they can to keep home insurance not only available but also as inexpensive as possible.


Hiring people to work on or at your home.

So you need someone to repair a faucet, do interior remodeling, paint, take out or trim a tree.  I bet you did not think in a million years your choice of provider could affect your pocketbook beyond the cost of the service provided.  It could.  

Here's why: anytime someone steps foot on your property, you have some liability for them, their safety, and of course your property itself.  For a minute think about a scenario where the plumber comes in and while making the repairs, severs a finger with a power tool.  Who pays for his medical bills, time off work, pain & suffering?  Think about the tree guy.  He attempts to take out that tree and it falls on your house or car or both!  Now what, who pays for this?  

In a perfect world the plumber, tree guy or whoever was hired to perform the job does, or the company they work for.  Unfortunately, this is not always how it works out.  It's important to know how to protect yourself and take the necessary reasonable steps.

Your homeowner's insurance can provide some "last line of defense" in situations like these, but honestly, it is just that "last line" and it's only a possible one, not definite because every home and property insurance policy is different and every situation is too.  Even if the property insurance company were to step in on your behalf to absorb the financial impact up to a lawsuit, it would put a negative mark on you and drive your insurance premiums up or even worse make you uninsurable.  There is a better, more simple way.

When you need work done on your home always look for reputable providers that have "commercial general liability insurance," "worker's compensation insurance," and "commercial automobile insurance."  Yes, even the vehicle they drive can turn out to be your liability responsibility while they are in the course of work on your property.  As you look for providers, look for ones that clearly state in their advertisement that they are "insured."  Of course, if they are in a trade that requires a license, you want to know that too.  Beware of the ones that advertise "licensed & insured" when they are not even required to have a "license."  

For example, tree services in Arkansas are not required to have a license, but I've seen many that advertise they do. Ask them to clarify the type of license they carry, if they say "tree", turn and walk away.  It may be that they have an Arkansas Contractor's License, which I personally ran into recently when looking for someone to cut down a tree on our property.  I did a quick search of the AR contractor's license board site and he was listed as active, which in my opinion makes him a more reputable provider.  If you are hiring a contractor for work on your home, definitely check that site to verify their license is active, you can search by name and they have some great tips for consumers too.  

As you interview prospective providers, ask them if they get the job, can they provide a "certificate" of their business insurance.  If they say anything but "YES" and say it enthusiastically, look elsewhere.  My experience has taught me that if they are unwilling to agree to provide proof of having insurance to earn the job something is not right and to move on.  There are plenty of providers and you will find one that has insurance and is more than happy to prove it because they know it provides peace of mind for you and plus they probably paid a lot of money for the insurance and is happy to get a return on their investment!  Be patient and keep looking.

If you think of something I did not cover, please, shoot me an email with your question, I am very happy to respond if I have an answer and direct you to someone else when I don't.  

If you need a recommendation of a provider, we know some of the various different work.  Call or email what type of work you are needing and if we know someone to direct you to, we'll be happy to pass on their contact information.

Please, remember at the end of the day, diligence & education is the key to protecting yourself, all you've worked hard for and everything you will work hard for in the future.


Homeowner Insurance: "smart" homes = discounts

From an early age, I've been fascinated with technology.  From the Commodore 64 computer to the big calculator watches and everything in between...I could not wait to test the newest cool gadget.  I watched shows that predicted the newest trends to shape the future.  I remember when they predicted compact discs "CD" would displace the cassette and thought it was so cool.  Fast forward 30 years and we are seeing a mass acceleration of connectivity between all of our technology.  If you have a "smartphone" then you already know this!  

And when it comes to our homes, it's a prediction that Bill Gates made many years ago...the "connected" home, coming to true.

Why should this matter to you?  Because it can save you money, time & frustration to invest in some "smart" upgrades to your home.

Insurance companies are transitioning and embracing all of this technology as a way to predict and prevent insurance claims.  And why not, if they pay less in claims, then we pay less in home insurance premiums!  The #1 most frequent claim that insurance companies pay is water damage related to leaking or burst pipes or water supply of some sort.  40% of all non-weather related claims are for this.  That's a lot and they would LOVE to prevent as many as possible.  That's where one new gadget comes in: a whole home water shut off system.  

The whole home water shut off system senses a leak and triggers a valve to close on your main water supply, limiting the amount of water spilled into your home.  Huge plus because now you do not have to worry about all of the cleanup and replacement of damaged flooring, walls, cabinets, etc...and most importantly you save a claim from going on your insurance record which can raise your rates significantly or may even result in being canceled by your insurance company.  In Arkansas, insurance companies can never use weather related claims against you, but they can use non-weather related.  So just like you want to protect your home from burglars, you want to protect it from water too.  

There is a discount with most insurance companies for having this system installed in your home, it ranges from 5-15%.  Not massive, but when you consider the money and headache saved, it may be worth it.  A few of the companies I've found that offer these are:

watercop.com

flologic.com

pipeburstpro.com ***appears to be most user-friendly

getfloodstop.com

leakdefensesystem.com   

As the smart home evolves and becomes more prevalent, the home insurance companies will continue to look for ways to incentivize us to protect our homes through discounts that lower our overall cost of home insurance.  

Some other cool things I've seen are doorbells with a camera that streams through your phone, allowing you to appear at home regardless of where you are.  Light bulbs with speakers that connect to your smartphone and allow you to stream music and adjust the light level and color.  Smart thermostats that can be controlled from anywhere and "learn" your preferences allowing you (in theory) to never touch it again.  The horizon is unlimited and exciting.

If you install anything "smart" in your home, contact your insurance agent and find out if it qualifies for a discount on your home insurance.  

Know of some cool tech toy for the home?  Please tell me about it below in the comments.


Teenage Drivers Insurance

Insurance for teen drivers presents a unique challenge.  As parents, we want to know they are safe, but we also want to keep the cost of doing this as low as possible, for their car and the car insurance that protects our assets.  

For parents of teenage drivers, it's best to start planning before they start driving.  I recommend the planning start 1-2 years before they are ready to get their learner's permit.  I make this recommendation because companies like Safeco (owned by Liberty Mutual) have "tenure" reward programs that allow you to earn a substantial price break when adding a teenage driver.  The only catch is:  you have to have been with them for at least 2 years, but then receive up to a 30% reduction in premium for the teenage driver insurance.  I'm sure others have something similar, ask your agent or auto insurance company about teenage driver discounts.  There several that I will cover in a minute.  Every little bit adds up.  

We all know that teenage drivers are at a very high risk of accident and death, so I will skip that for this article.  If you want to look at those stats, the Insurance Institute has plenty.   

Let's talk more about teenage driver insurance costs.  That starts with the vehicle.  If you hand over the keys to a car you have financed, you will have to carry comprehensive and collision coverage as part of your agreement with the Bank.  Couple that with the high rates for a teenage driver and you easily could be paying $2400 a year ($200 mos) or more for the insurance on just their car.  Instead provide them a car that is paid for, either your old car (and you get a new one) OR one that you go out and pay cash for.  This can easily get your premiums for their car down to $1200 year ($100 mos.) or less, which is a huge drop.  

Now let's talk about that specific car to get them because you still want to know they are safe in the vehicle chosen. The Insurance Institute has a list of the safe cars for teenage drivers.  Rest assured if the vehicle rates well for the teenage driver safety, the insurance cost will be reasonable as well.  

The best insurance for teenage drivers is a Company that has programs set up specifically directed to them.  They will offer specific discounts that help lower premiums for the teenage driver.  Discounts for driver training, good students, tenure awards (mentioned above) and even a sample teenage driver contract.  The best advice is to check around if you experience sticker shock when adding your teenage driver to your auto insurance.  

Truthfully, some auto insurance companies do not want to insure teenage drivers and they show you this by charging very high premiums.  There are plenty of insurance companies that will gladly insure your teenage driver, no reason to overpay.  Just remember that keeping all of your insurance with one insurance company offers discounts for bundling, so if you choose to look around, look for all of your insurance, the rates will be better.  Consider bundling with us.

Another important thing to keep in mind, you can have your teenage driver get their own insurance policy once they are 18, but be careful, because you may still have legal liability if they cause damages and you could be the one left to pay out of your pocket instead of the insurance company's.  You may save money in the short term (but usually not), but you could pay a lot more in the end.  I'm not an attorney, so definitely consult with one before you go this route.      

Teenage drivers pattern of risk is higher than a more experienced driver, but there are ways to insuring a teenage driver that can lower your costs while protecting your child to the best of your ability. As your teenage drivers' license date comes closer, be prepared, educate and choose wisely.


Total loss car: getting a fair payment.

If you’ve had a car accident and filed an auto insurance claim, you have likely already been in contact with an insurance claims adjuster. The adjuster's job is to look at the circumstances of the accident and will offer you a damage settlement that can include vehicle damage and any injury you may have sustained. But how do you know whether you should accept that settlement? What if it seems lower than what you believe is fair compensation?

In situations like this, you may be unsure and feel pressured to accept the first settlement simply because you are unfamiliar with how the system works or feel intimidated.  You just want to move beyond the accident and get on with life. But.  If your car insurance settlement offer seems too low, there are some important factors you should consider. Keep in mind that you are in the best position to know the true range of impact the accident will have on your life.  If the settlement seems too low, it’s probably worth a second look.

Settlement Criteria

Insurance adjusters have the authority to make a settlement offer within a certain dollar range. Since the goal is to keep costs down for the insurance company, the first offer will likely be at the low end of that range. If you believe the proposed settlement is not adequate for the value and pain the accident caused, then you should treat the offer as a starting point only and be prepared to negotiate a counter-offer. To do that, you need to know how to put a dollar value on your loss.

Valuing a Total Loss Car and other claim expense

Insurers often use a very low book value that does not necessarily reflect actual worth. Find similar vehicles (year, model, condition) and build a comparative price point. Take into consideration regular maintenance, mechanical soundness, and what your vehicle might have sold for prior to the accident. A great resource is nadaguides.com Claim value doesn’t only include the car, but also the inconvenience of being without a vehicle. How did the accident interfere with going to work or other daily activities? The value of the claim is also affected by who is at fault. If you contributed in any way to the accident, companies will sometimes try to hold you to a higher level of fault as a way to underpay your claim. If you were negligent, for example, the company may decide you contributed to worsening the damage or injury.

Placing a value on injury is a bit more complicated, as the true extent of the injuries can take time to manifest. Maintain a journal documenting any pain or debilitation, including information on how the injury is impacting your ability to work, care for children, or perform daily tasks. Keep an accurate record of medical bills, out-of-pocket expenses, travel mileage and prescription drug costs. Consider the future. Many accident injuries that seem minor, i.e. whiplash, can have significant serious and debilitating consequences over time. In most cases where injury is present, it is in your best interests to not accept a settlement until you have a better idea of the long-term consequences.

Dealing with the Adjuster

Once you have calculated what you believe the accident settlement is worth to you, decide on a reasonable range and minimum amount you will accept. Decline the first offer in writing. Explain the reasons why you believe the offer is inadequate, including the facts of the case, documented damage and the nature of the injuries. Be prepared to counter-offer with an amount at the high end. The negotiations may take some back-and-forth, as the insurance adjuster will likely make a counter-offer that is lower than what you are asking, and you will need to decide whether to accept.

In some cases it may be wise to seek legal advice.  For example, if the accident involves significant injury or if children are involved. Ultimately, if you cannot resolve the matter by dealing directly with the company, you have the option of going to court.

In general, if your car insurance settlement offer seems too low, it’s worth asking for a reassessment, even if you only manage to negotiate a small increase.  If you feel that your insurance adjuster has given you a fair and reasonable offer from the start, even if it is on the low side, it may be in your best interests to accept and move on with your life. Negotiating and valuing your claim and waiting for a higher settlement can take time and effort and you may decide that it’s not worth it, but if you have the patience and financially resources then the process can result in more money in your pocket.

I've shared some very generic advice in this article, but I do have very specific Arkansas Insurance rules, regulations and talking points that I'm happy to share if you're in a claim process and having a difficult go at it with your adjuster.  Call or email me and I will be happy to help with any information or tips specific to helping you with your situation.  I have personally had to negotiate a total loss settlement and  know how to get the most money for a claim.


25 Top Motorcycle Routes in the US

With the beautiful fall weather, it may be time to cruise!!

Getting ready for a cross-country (or local) motorcycle ride? www.motorcycleroads.com lists the top 25 routes in the US. Add these to your motorcycle bucket list now!

25 – Mexican Hat to Bryce Canyon (Utah), 293 miles

24 – The Palomar Mountain Loop (California), 35 miles

23 – Highway 20 Washington Pass (Washington), 87 miles

22 – Central Hills Loop (South Dakota), 57 miles

21 – Talimena National Scenic Byway (Oklahoma), 55 miles

20 – Going-to-the-Sun Road (Montana), 50 miles

19 – Natchez Trace Parkway (Tennessee), 400 miles

18 – Georgia’s Dragon – The Suches Loop (Georgia), 42 miles

17 – Push Mountain Road (Arkansas), 25 miles

16 – The Walden Loop (Colorado), 220 miles

15 – Coronado Trail (Arizona), 118 miles

14 – The Triple Nickel – Route 555 (Ohio), 34 miles

13 – The Ohio Cousin of the “Tail of the Dragon” (Ohio), 12 miles

12 – The Hellbender 28 (North Carolina), 22 miles

11 – Pacific Coast Cruise; Hwy 1 (California), 127 miles

10 – Skyline Drive (Virginia), 105 miles

9 – Arkansas Pig Trail – Arkansas 23 (Arkansas), 19 miles

8 – Twisty Road – Route 36 (California), 140 miles

7 – Tunnel of Trees Road (Michigan), 22 miles

6 – San Juan Mountain Skyway (Colorado), 225 miles

5 – Beartooth Pass (Wyoming), 50 miles

4 – Blue Ridge Parkway (Virginia), 469 miles

3 – Cherohala Skyway (Tennessee to North Carolina), 45 miles

2 – Deal’s Gap, AKA “Tail of the Dragon” (Tennessee), 11 miles

1 – The Three Sisters, AKA the Twisted Sisters (Texas), 131 miles

 

Planning on going on one of these routes? Make sure you’re covered! Contact McGhee Insurance Agency for a motorcycle quote!


Water in Your home? Take action asap!

Any damage to your home is unsettling, if not downright stressful.  Knowing how to respond is the most important thing.  Having a plan in advance is best.

When it comes to water in your home, time is your enemy.  The longer you wait, the higher the probability that more problems will arise, including mold.  With quick, decisive action though, what would have cost $1,000's could cost just $100's.    

FIRST: Turn off the water supply.  Either to your entire home or the line that is leaking.  Contact a plumber to repair the leak.

SECOND: Take out your cell phone and take pictures of all the areas affected by the water.  

THIRD: Contact a water removal expert company for inspection and estimate(s).  

FOURTH: Contact your insurance Agent.  

The most important thing is to get started fixing the problem, removing the water and prevent mold.  Your homeowner's insurance company may cover this type of claim, but the total dollar cost of damages must exceed your deductible before will start to pay.  You want to make sure that it does exceed your deductible BEFORE filing the claim because the claim, even if not paid, can be a negative for you.  Talk with your Agent, they can tell you if your insurance company would cover the claim and how much your deductible is.  With this information, the receipt from the plumber's repairs and the estimated from the water removal company, you can start to make an informed decision.  

If the $$$ amount for repairs exceeds your deductible, contact your Agent and file the claim.  Go ahead with repairs now because it may take 1-3 days for an adjuster to inspect.  Your goal is to get the water out.  Don't worry.  If the repairs exceed your deductible and the claim is covered, the adjuster will still pay the claim.  You have to remember that if you are preventing more damage with quick clean up, you are saving the insurance company money.  Just take pictures, save receipts and document time spent on clean up.  This will satisfy the adjuster.  

If the $$$ amount does not exceed your deductible, go ahead with the cleanup and necessary repairs.  BUT.  Make sure to save all receipts, pictures, and documentation.  Why?  Sometimes, the damage is worse than originally thought, it exceeds your deductible and you will want to file a claim.  With the documentation, you will have no trouble getting the home insurance company to pay a covered claim.

There are many water removal expert companies.  Here are two that we are familiar with and our clients have had success with:

        ServPro

        Arkansas Mold & Water

A lot of folks freak out when they experience water in their home.  I have found that a plan that includes quick, professional clean up, it can be handled with little interruption and less money.  Like everything else, if done correctly the first time, it saves you a headache and money later.  It's your home, protect it the best way you know how.

If you have any questions, feel free to call us, anytime.


Business Insurance:Train employees to protect your Business & Auto rates

If you are a company that keeps company cars, driven by your employees, then you should have a commercial auto insurance policy. A commercial auto insurance policy protects your business in the case of an accident, damage or theft of your company cars.

However, you will still want to make sure you are training your employees on how they can prevent accidents and minimize the risk for your business and keep your commercial auto insurance premiums as low as possible.

Provide a driver’s course to all new drivers, as well as periodically for existing drivers. Make sure the course covers key elements of safety, like backing up properly, following distances and parking.  A local company that will set this up for you is Thompson Driving.  There may well be others, check around.  One other thing, make sure to check around periodically for commercial auto insurance companies because rates change and sometimes you may be getting overcharged.  Especially, if your situation has changed but the insurance company has not.

Create a program that rewards safe drivers. Provide regular rewards to employees who keep a clean record of driving safe. You can also reward entire groups of drivers should they all go certain periods of time (say a quarter) with no accidents.

Teach employees proper protocols for worst case scenarios: how to handle an accident, what information to collect and what numbers they need to call in case of an accident, damage or theft.  Preparedness is key with this as with everything else in your business and life in general.  Remember the saying, "if you fail to plan, you plan to fail."


Car Accident Insurance Claim Settlement Repairs

This article is talking about auto accidents where the vehicle will be repaired.  I have a separate article for total loss car accidents.

Before I get into the claim part, I want to emphasize the importance of calling the police, collecting the other parties name and insurance information including their policy number.  Once that part is done, you will contact the car insurance company to file the claim.  If you were at fault, you will call your insurance company, if not, then the other person's insurance company.

For the purposes of this article, I will assume you have already started the claims process and now have moved into the estimation for repairs because I want to address a couple of common questions that come up in our Agency from clients and non-clients even.  

  1. "Do I have to use the insurance company's repair shop?"
  2. "What do I do if the insurance company's estimate for the repairs is lower than the shop I want to use?"

The answer to question # 1 is simply "no" and I'll elaborate a little.  The insurance companies that have preferred repair shops surely would like you to use their shop for one simple reason: it helps them control the cost of the claim because they have a prearranged cost agreement with theses shops.  Very much like your Doctor has with your health insurance company.  If you use their repair shop, they usually offer some type of incentives like a lifetime guarantee on the repairs or something similar.  

Bottom line they have something extra to motivate you to do it.  It's not a bad thing unless you're opposed to it. Which, I get it, some folks are.  And that's perfectly fine.  The insurance law in Arkansas says you can use whomever you like to repair your car.  Actually, in Arkansas, there's not a law that requires you to use the insurance money to repair your car, but that's beside the point if you want your car repaired like I would.  Who wants to drive an eyesore around!

The insurance company will estimate the work, cut you a check and you go to your shop and get the repairs done, then you pay the shop.  Which leads into question #2...

If you agreed to their preferred shop, the insurance company and the shop will simply work that out.  If you use your own shop, it just creates a little more involvement on your part sometimes.  I still find it minimal and well worth it for those folks that prefer to keep the deal separated.

All you do is provide a detailed estimate of the shop's to the insurance adjuster, they compare everything and identify the discrepancies.  If they agree on the spot, they cut a check to you as what they call a "supplemental" payment, and off you go with the rest of your repairs.  If for some reason they can't find an agreement, they will send someone back out to look at the car or call the shop to sort through it.  

It usually is easy to work through and they pay everything that is fair and owed to you.  If it gets bogged down, ask your insurance agent to help you, that's what you have us for.

If you have an insurance with an auto insurance accident claim and need help, feel free to contact me and I'll be glad to share any advice I have.