When buying insurance, whether its home, life, auto, rental or other:
- Find out whether your state insurance department offers any information concerning insurance companies and rates. This is a good way to get a feeling for the range of prices and the lowest-cost providers in your area.
- Check several sources for the best deal. Try getting quotes from a website such as www.insweb.com, but be aware that many online services may provide prices for just a few companies. An independent insurance agent that works with several insurers in your local area might be able to get you a better deal.
- Make sure the insurance company is licensed and covered by the state's guaranty fund. The fund pays claims in case the company defaults. Your state insurance department can provide this information.
- Check the financial stability and soundness of the insurance company. Ratings from A.M. Best, Standard & Poor's, and Moody's Investors Services are available online and at most public libraries.
- Research the complaint record of the company. Contact your state insurance department or visit the website of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, which has a database of complaints filed with state regulators.
- Find out what others think about the company's customer service. Consumers can rate homeowner insurance companies at www.jdpower.com/homes/insuranceratings.
- Once you pay your first insurance premium, make sure you receive a written policy. This tells you the agent forwarded your premium to the insurance company. If you don't receive a policy within 60 days, contact your agent and the insurance company.