The frustration of a property investor and insurance agent
Buying Insurance Online sounds easy, just type, click and enter your credit card. Right?
Recently I was shopping for insurance for a 12-unit multifamily rental property I own. While I am an insurance agent, and usually buy from myself, the current hard market was making it difficult to find a reasonable solution for my upcoming renewal. As a precaution, I decided to go online to see if I could buy insurance online better than what I could find myself.
Buy Insurance Online: Click Bait
One night, while weighing my options, I took the plunge to buy insurance online and typed “apartment building insurance” into the search engine. A list of good-looking websites with pictures and words caught my attention. The first site that I clicked on, looked great. It had a very easy-to-follow intake form, requiring minimal information, and within minutes, I had a “quote.” This was followed by an email letting me know that someone would be in touch with me shortly. I was relieved, I had an affordable solution to my multifamily insurance challenge.
The next day, I called the phone number on the email I received. I navigated the voice message options, was unable to speak with a representative and was forced to leave a message in the general message box, a minor frustration.
Later that night, I decided to look to buy insurance online again. This time, I found a second site, provided similar intake information, and submitted my application.
The next day, I was able to call the second company to which I provided my information. I learned that they were primarily a personal lines agency and that I needed to speak with the owner. Fortunately, a short time later, the owner called me, and we were able to have an intelligent conversation about the challenging marketplace.
Recognizing that I was an insurance agent, he confirmed with me the challenges I was encountering were the same for him. He commented that this was the “hardest market” he had ever experienced. I decided to limit my shopping to not poison the market with too many submissions for my apartment risk. This happens when an underwriter receives the same application from multiple agents. My hope was that one of us would be able to generate an affordable coverage option prior to my approaching expiration date.
The follow up to buying insurance online
As time crept forward, my expiration date got closer and closer. I had nothing solid from my direct contacts, nor the second agent I spoke with directly. However, I had multiple emails with agent number one confirming coverage and answering questions, limits, carrier, pricing, and payment options. All systems go; I had a solid worse case offer from the first website quote.
Two days to go
Tick, tick, tick, with only two days to go, and no solid alternative offers besides the option from agent number one. So, I requested payment terms from agent number one so we could bind coverage. The price was more than I had hoped to spend but competitive. Coverage was sparse, but I was getting desperate. I emailed the first agent to see what we needed to do to bind coverage. A few emails back and forth, then he called to confirm the information I provided online the first night. A few minutes later, I received an email from agent number one explaining that my property did not qualify for the quote provided.
You asked questions, I provided truthful answers. You provided a quote based on my answers. What changed?
It turns out that the online site was an estimate. The actual company guidelines limited coverage for buildings with four or fewer units.
You are kidding, right?
The questions asked on your site asked how many units, and I answered 12. Your quote was based on the information I provided. Where is the disconnect?
Upon further digging, I learned that the site was a lead generator for lots of different agents, or in other words, a waste of time.
Days after the email conclusion with agent number one, I received a written letter via regular mail confirming that my coverage had been canceled. Huh? To cancel coverage, I first had to have coverage. I’m confused.
Fortunately, although it was last minute, 4:30 pm on the day my coverage ran out, I was able to place coverage with one of my other options. Coverage was limited, pricing was better, but the whole situation was very frustrating, to say the least.
Buy Insurance Online: The Summary
The internet is a great place to do research and become educated. But buying insurance online
is no substitute for working with an experienced provider who understands your situation and knows where they can provide a solution to meet your needs.
For your complicated insurance needs, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you schedule a call and talk with an experienced agent instead of buying insurance online to make certain you have someone working to solve your insurance needs.
Instead of buying insurance online, schedule a call with me by clicking the button below. I look forward to discussing your Property Insurance needs.