Tips for Insurance Consumers
California Department of Insurance
Purchasing the right insurance that meets your needs can be challenging. Insurance can be one of the most important ongoing purchases you make to protect yourself and your family from financial hardship. Since your needs and financial situation change over time, it is important to understand and review your insurance policies on a regular basis to decide if the same policies are still right for you. If you are considering buying, reviewing, or replacing insurance, the following quick tips can be helpful to you:
Check Out Your Agent and Company
Contact the California Department of Insurance (CDI) at 800-927-4357 or access the Web Site www.insurance.ca.gov to see if an agent or company is licensed to sell insurance. Check the license status before you purchase insurance. All agents are required to print their license numbers on all business cards, quotations, and advertisements.
Don’t Feel Pressured or Intimidated by an Agent
It is not always the best idea to purchase insurance the first time you meet with an agent. Agents should never use high-pressure sales tactics. Remember the power of the word "No," and don’t feel obligated to make a purchase on the spot. Always seek the advice of someone you trust if you are unsure about making a purchase.
Answer All Questions on the Application Correctly
Omitting or falsifying information can cause the company to deny your claim or cancel your policy. Never leave blanks on an application for insurance. Dishonest agents may take advantage and fill in the blanks with incorrect information without your approval.
Never Sign Something You Don’t Understand
If an agent is unwilling to explain a policy to your satisfaction, then don’t sign or buy the policy. When you need clarification, ask the agent questions and make a point to take notes documenting the answers. It is always a good idea to have a record of what was said for future reference and for comparison with other policies.
Compare Policies Carefully
It is important to buy the best coverage that meets your needs and budget. Be sure to compare coverage as well as price when choosing between insurance policies. Don’t buy coverage that you can’t afford. Also, be aware of duplicate coverage between policies you currently have and policies you are considering.
Make Payments Promptly
When participating in a payment plan, be careful to pay on time and to make time allowances for mailing. Don’t count on the company offering a grace period for late payments. A late payment is a valid reason for a company to cancel your policy. Never pay your insurance premium in cash, and make checks or money orders payable to the insurance company, agency name, or other billing institution as instructed.
Always Read Your Policy
Upon receiving your policy, read it thoroughly to determine if it is exactly what you purchased and what you need. Contact your agent or insurance company immediately if you find errors or if you need further explanation. Most life and health policies have a "free-look" period of between 10 to 30 days, so don’t delay opening your mail and reading your policy.