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Lack of Understanding Can Cost You Big Time!

Do you understand insurance? Life insurance? Auto Insurance? Health Insurance? I know that it is certainly not the most interesting subject in the world, but if you do not take the time to truly understand these products, it will cost you big time.

Rules I follow when purchasing insurance:

  • Do not just “take an insurance agent’s word for it!” Truly seek understanding of the product! If you understand it, you will be able to make a good purchase that you will KNOW is a good purchase.
  • Understand what’s being offered  If you are speaking with an insurance agent, and you start feeling like you are being “sold” on a product – LEAVE IMMEDIATELY!!! Use Donald Trump’s words – “You’re fired!” Complete with the New England accent if you wish. You do not need to be sold on an insurance product, you need to understand the insurance products. Once you understand the products, you will be able to make a sound decision.
  • Obtain at least three quotes from three different companies. Ensure that at least one is an independent company that is able to surf your insurance needs among many different companies. Competition makes prices go down. When prices go down, you will get to keep more of your money. I use InsureMe.com to obtain dozens of quotes without calling anyone – they call and email me quotes from multiple insurance companies!
  • Do not cancel an existing insurance product until you have obtained a replacement. Do not cancel your auto insurance before you have obtained auto insurance from another company. Do not cancel your life insurance before you have obtained alternative life insurance from elsewhere. A gap in coverage is ripe territory for Mr. Murphy to show up.
  • Do not allow your insurance to be combined with another financial product. For example, cash value life insurance is both life insurance and an investment in one product. The problem with these types of products is that the fees are tremendous. Purchase your investments and insurance separately.
  • Send out your insurance every two years for new quotes. You want to ensure that your rates are remaining competitive with the open market.
  • Ask for a better deal. Insurance is a service product. Prices of service products are negotiable.
  • Be extremely careful when purchasing insurance from a family member or a good friend. You may have your judgment impaired because you really want to please and help them.

Again, insurance may be a boring subject. If you kept reading all the way to the end of this article, I am impressed! You can save a lot of money on insurance by employing these tips.

I personally use InsureMe.com to obtain quotes because it allows me to shop and compare without calling anyone!!!  Check their website out HERE.

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Term Life Insurance Application Process – How It Typically Works

Many people may know that they need term life insurance, but they do not clearly understand how the process works.  In the presence of unanswered questions, many people make a choice (a poor one) to do nothing.  My hope is that this post will help answer your questions about the term life insurance application process!

Acquiring term life insurance generally follows the following steps.

  1. Find term life insurance that fits your needs.
  2. Request and fill out an application (can obtain from your insurance agent or do this ON-LINE)
  3. A nurse contracted by the life insurance company will contact you to set up an appropriate time for a health analysis (usually involves a blood test and a basic physical).
  4. Your application is either accepted or denied.
  5. If accepted, you will be provided your actual premium rate cost and the policy will go into effect once payment is made.

NOTE #1: Smoking and weight issues do not necessarily mean that you can not obtain life insurance, but it usually results in higher premiums due to increased health risks.

NOTE #2:  I carry 10 times my annual take-home pay in term life insurance in 20 or 30 year level term coverage.  For example, if a person makes $30,000 in annual take-home pay, then that would be $300,000 in term life insurance coverage.

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Stop And Think Moment – 1

Welcome to the latest series at JosephSangl.com – “Stop And Think”  This series is written to help people think through important financial topics that may not be part of daily conversation, but are vitally important to a complete financial plan.

Take one minute to stop and think about what would happen if you died today.  I know this is not an exciting prospect to consider, but I have seen many instances (far too many) where a family member dies way too young.  Would your family be able to make it financially?  Do you have life insurance that would provide enough money to ensure that those who depend upon you could just focus on grieving instead of having to worry about keeping the house and not being able to pay the bills?

I personally carry 30-year level term life insurance.  It’s very cheap and allows me to absolutely ensure that my family will prosper should I die prematurely.  Just so you know, I’m rooting against dying early.

One great thing about term life insurance is you can securely obtain quotes on-line without talking to anyone.  I love that!

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Carbonite.com – Is It Worth It?

I remember the first time I got digital pictures – it was when my daughter was born in 1999.   I had my film developed at Wal-Mart and then scanned the pictures into my computer.   Within hours of my daughter’s arrival, my entire family throughout the world was able to see pictures of our beautiful baby girl!   The technology!!!

Then I received a digital camera for Christmas from my twin brother.   I think it was a 0.5 MP camera.   Then I got another, better, digital camera.   Then another.   Then my phone had a digital camera.   Then my daughter got a digital camera.

All of this added up to THOUSANDS of priceless photos on my computer.   Not to mention all of our other important documents we’ve stored on the computer.

When a buddy recently LOST all of his files – all of his pictures, movies, iTunes music, and more – I determined to do something about it.

I had heard talk radio show hosts mentioning Carbonite.com as a way to automatically back up files.   I decided to check it out in August.   They have a FREE TRIAL that allowed me to sign up and try it out without even giving them my credit card info.

Bottom line is: I LOVE IT!   So much so that I have put it on my home computer and work computer.   My team has put it on their computers.   In fact, one team member recently got a virus and had to wipe the hard drive clean – then they just used their Carbonite backup to get up and running again!

Here are some things I have noticed:

  • It WILL slow your computer down a little when it is backing files up, but all I have to do is click “pause” and it will wait until a later time to back-up.
  • I can easily see which files are backed up and which ones aren’t simply by checking my “file explorer” – files that are backed up have a small solid green dot – those that aren’t have an orange dot.
  • When I signed up my one computer for the free trial and then paid for the service to continue, I received a 50% off offer for it to be installed on a 2nd computer – I used this for my home computer.
  • It takes some time for the first back-up.   It took Carbonite about a week to fully back up all of my files the first time.   Now it does it in minutes.
  • The cost is worth it to me.   It costs around $55/year.   If I lost those files, the cost is much MUCH greater!   I actually group this cost in with “insurance” – as it is insuring my data and pictures against loss!

You can check it out HERE.

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SUCCESS STORY: Lower Car and Home Insurance!

 

A participant in the Financial Learning Experience wrote me to tell us how much they saved by shopping their car and home insurance!   You can too – just click HERE to get quotes from tons of agents in your area!
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My husband and I have had [Insert Big Insurer Here] for 33+ years!   My husband was already with [Big Insurer]when we married in the 1970′s, so I just changed my insurance over with his.   We had never had any problems with them and since they were local, we had come to know them personally.
After hearing you say that everyone should shop around for insurance premiums at least every two years, I decided to do just that.   I called our insurance company to get some quotes and explained to them that I had been advised to shop around for the best rates.   My agency just said, well you have many discounts with us, including over 10+ years accident free (I now think of all the money I could have saved while being accident free during those 10+ years!).
There was no offer to even “look” at our policies to see if they could make any adjustments to give us better rates. There was only  the sound of “confidence,” the confidence that says, “someone who had been with  us for 33+ years will not change.”
YOOHOO………THANKS TO YOU FOR THE CHANGE THAT DID TAKE PLACE!!!!!!

Here is a breakdown:
AUTO INSURANCE
  • Vehicle 1       [WAS: Big Insurer] = $723.96         [IS:   New Big Insurer] = $415             Savings/year: $308.96
  • Vehicle2         [WAS: Big Insurer] = $470.52         [IS:   New Big Insurer] = $281             Savings/year: $189.52
  • Vehicle 3       [WAS: Big Insurer] = $370.46         [IS:   New Big Insurer] = $289             Savings/year: $ 81.46

 

Totals for the year:     [WAS: Big Insurer] =$1564.94       [IS:   New Big Insurer] Total =$985     Savings/Year $579.94
HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE
[WAS: Big Insurer] = $450           [IS:   New Big Insurer] = $286             Savings/year: $164.00

Also, we raised the amount of coverage and kept the same deductibles for all three vehicles and for our home!!!!!!

Thanks to your Financial Learning Experience at New Spring at the Greenville Campus, we are now paying

$743.94 LESS PER YEAR BABY!!!!

YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!
HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT     HOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOT!!!!
CAN’T SAY THANK YOU ENOUGH!   I WILL ALWAYS AND FOREVER SHOP AROUND FOR INSURANCE QUOTES IN THE FUTURE!
Thank you so very much!
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That’s what this crusade is all about – helping people maximize their money and resources so they can go do EXACTLY what they have been put on Earth to do!
Have you gotten new quotes lately?   You can start HERE.

How To Ruin Your Life Financially – Don’t Carry Health Insurance

I recently wrote about 17 ways to ruin your life financially.   Many of you shared some additional ways too – and they were great!

It is important that we circle back on a few of these because I am passionate about a few of these.   One of them is health insurance.

According to The American Journal of Medicine – more than 50% of all bankruptcies are due to medical bills.   In their report HERE, most of those who filed for bankruptcy were middle-class, well-educated homeowners.

Seriously, with a 100% mortality rate, the chances are pretty high that someone in your family will get ill.   If you do not have health insurance, you are positioning yourself to fail financially instead positioning yourself to prosper!

If you don’t have insurance, GET A QUOTE, find out the cost, and at least get major medical coverage!

Do you have any horror stories of not having health insurance?

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SERIES: Health Insurance – Part Five – The COST Of Not Carrying Insurance

Over the past 21 months, my family has participated in a wild ride with health insurance.   The experience has been enlightening, incredibly frustrating, annoying, confusing and intimidating.   Can I get an Amen! and a witness?!?!   In this series on health insurance, I am going to share my experience AND some helpful tips on saving money on health insurance.

Part Five The COST of not carrying health insurance

This series started out with me sharing my story of dropping maternity insurance coverage only to discover 16 days later that our baby boy was already on the way.   I got the joy of paying about $7,500 extra.

There are several COSTS to not carrying health insurance, some are obvious – others not so much:

  • Monetary penalty This is obvious, of course.   I only had to pay $7,500 extra for my debacle.       I say “only” because I have seen SO MUCH WORSE!   A heart attack costs many multiples of what I had to pay.   Accidents do happen.   My twin brother is an ER doc – and every single day he sees people that are experiencing a life-altering health care crisis.   With a 100% mortality rate, I would say the chances of you or a family member experiencing a large health-care bill in the next ten years is very high.
  • Emotional Stress I meet with people in 1-on-1 financial coaching session all of the time.   One of most common causes of unbelievable stress is unpaid medical bills that were incurred without insurance coverage.   In some cases, the stress has become so great that people begin to lose hope and despair of ever winning with their finances – and it ALL could have been avoided if they had just carried health insurance.
  • Avoid necessary care/Delay visits to doctor When a person does not carry insurance (or do not have money to cover their deductible), they will avoid going to the doctor or emergency room.   Now, in some cases, this is a good thing.   The financial penalty has reduced the number of people going to the doctor for a hangnail.   But in many other cases, people have avoided a doctor’s care for necessary and sometimes urgent care.

What are some other costs you can think of that are a result of NOT carrying health insurance?

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SERIES: Health Insurance – Part Four – Ways To Save

Over the past 21 months, my family has participated in a wild ride with health insurance.   The experience has been enlightening, incredibly frustrating, annoying, confusing and intimidating.   Can I get an Amen! and a witness?!?!   In this series on health insurance, I am going to share my experience AND some helpful tips on saving money on health insurance.

Part Four Ways to save on health insurance

I need health insurance, but I don’t want to have to take out a small business loan to pay for it!   Here are some key ways that I have saved on my health insurance.

Increase the deductible By increasing the deductible, I have assumed more personal risk and decreased the risk being carried by the insurance provider.   This means that they can offer a much lower premium to me.   In chapter 12 of my book, I Was Broke. Now I’m Not., I share how I compare insurance policies using the premiums and deductibles to see which one is the best financial decision.

Live a healthy lifestyle In a large group health insurance plan, you are automatically admitted to the insurance plan.   In an individual plan, you will be accepted/charged according to your personal health history.   We can’t control all of our health, but by controlling what we can, we can have a healthier life and better rated insurance premiums.

Go to work for an employer with group health insurance coverage If you can not obtain coverage or you have health history that is hurting your ability to obtain affordable insurance, obtain a job that offers group health insurance that does not have a clause that excludes your pre-existing c0nditions.

Don’t work, be a complete slob, and live life on the government dole Be broke.   Don’t be productive.   Save nothing.   Go to the hospital and rack up HUGE charges and let all of us tax-paying, law-abiding, hard-working citizens pay it for you.

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SERIES: Health Insurance – Part Three – Group Plans

Over the past 21 months, my family has participated in a wild ride with health insurance.   The experience has been enlightening, incredibly frustrating, annoying, confusing and intimidating.   Can I get an “Amen!” and a witness?!?!   In this series on health insurance, I am going to share my experience AND some helpful tips on saving money on health insurance.

Part Three Group Plans (even when you are an individual)

Sometimes group plans are less costly and offer better benefits than individual policies – and individuals sometimes have opportunities to participate in a group plan if they are part of a network or business group.   For example, I am part of my local Chamber of Commerce.   They offer the opportunity for me to participate in a group health insurance plan.   Small business networks, home builder groups, and other membership organizations will offer group health insurance to their members.

It gets even better when you can obtain lower premiums by obtaining group health insurance AND it is a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a Health Savings Account (HSA) – which was Part Two of this series!

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SERIES: Health Insurance – Part Two – HDHP with HSA

Over the past 21 months, my family has participated in a wild ride with health insurance.   The experience has been enlightening, incredibly frustrating, annoying, confusing and intimidating.   Can I get an “Amen!” and a witness?!?!   In this series on health insurance, I am going to share my experience AND some helpful tips on saving money on health insurance.

Part Two High Deductible Health Plan with Health Savings Account (HSA)

I was first introduced to a high deductible health plan (HDHP) with a health savings account (HSA) when I was an employee.   My first reaction was, “My deductible is that HIGH?!!”   Upon further review, I found out that it was a terrific deal – for me as an employee as well as my employer.   Let me explain how a HDHP with a HSA works.

  • High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) According to IRS publication 969, the minimum deductible eligible for establishing an HSA is $1,200 for an individual and $2,400 for a family.   In other words, the insurance policy must require the covered individual or family to pay the deductible before the insurance company pays any health care costs (with some exceptions related to preventive care – see IRS Publication 969)
  • Health Savings Account (HSA) This is a savings account that you can establish at a bank that is used solely for paying for health care expenses.   I have established my account at a local bank.   Each year, I am able to contribute an amount equal to the annual deductible of my insurance.   Here is the GREAT NEWS – whatever I contribute to my HSA is tax-deductible!   This saves me TONS of money!   Additionally, the money I have in my HSA is not a “use-it-or-lose-it” account.   If I do not use all of the money I have placed within my HSA, the money remains in my account until I actually need it.

As I have embarked onto this crusade full-time, I have had to obtain my own individual insurance policy.   HDHP with HSAs were by far the best option for my family.   We checked out the rates at eHealthInsurance and a local insurance agent.   The rates were the same, but using eHealthInsurance I was personally able to easily compare policies.

A HDHP is less costly to the insurance company because they substantially decrease their risk by forcing the consumer to shoulder the burden of the initial deductible.   For most people, this causes them to avoid running to the emergency room every single time there is a health care need.   Because the individual is going to have to pay for the entire ER visit, they become what I call a powerful person – an INFORMED and AWARE consumer!   This means that the individual will instead go to an urgent care facility which will charge less than 1/4th of the cost of an ER visit.   This is better for the individual AND the insurance company – and results in a lower premium.

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SERIES: Health Insurance – Part One – Intro

Over the past 21 months, my family has participated in a wild ride with health insurance.   The experience has been enlightening, incredibly frustrating, annoying, confusing and intimidating.   Can I get an “Amen!” and a witness?!?!   In this series on health insurance, I am going to share my experience AND some helpful tips on saving money on health insurance.

Part One Introduction

If you have been a regular reader of JosephSangl.com for awhile, you know that our family has witnessed an incredible miracle over the past year with the arrival of our son, Keaton.

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He showed up after ten years of trying for a second child – including an IVF attempt.   By a miracle of God, Keaton showed up.   By the ridiculous nature of health insurance, we got to pay thousands of dollars in medical bills.

In fact, I wrote about it in my Sunday newspaper article.   I will let that article be the introduction to this series.   I know that it is a bit long, but I think it really sets up this series well.

One Man’s Wild Ride With Health Insurance – Sunday, 8/2/2010 – Anderson Independent-Mail

There have been enormous amounts of discussion, writing and conversation regarding health insurance reform.   A health care bill has now been passed through Congress and signed into law.  Call me crazy, but when 100-percent of one party is against a bill while nearly all of the opposing party is voting for a bill, it is not in the best interest of the American people.

Most Americans have a health insurance story to tell.  Today I want to tell you my wild journey with health insurance over the past 15 months.   In June 2009, I embarked full-time into this crusade to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances.   This meant that I was going to be giving up health insurance from my employer, who had an exemption from providing COBRA benefits.   This is where my problem began.   Because I would be unable to continue insurance via COBRA, I had to find new insurance immediately.   I attempted to obtain an identical individual health insurance plan which included maternity coverage.   The insurance company informed me that because I was purchasing an individual policy, I would be required to start at the beginning to obtain full maternity coverage benefits.   In other words, they would only pay 5-percent of maternity costs if a pregnancy occurred in the first year, 60-percent in the second year and 80-percent in the third year.   Only after four years of paying premiums would I be provided 100-percent coverage for maternity.

The insurance provider established this requirement even though I had maintained (and paid huge money for) full health insurance coverage with maternity benefits included for the previous thirteen years.   They established this requirement even though I had held coverage with their exact company for the previous three years!

Truth be told, my wife and I had given up on having a second child.   It had been ten years since the birth of our only child.   Instead of paying for extremely costly maternity insurance that would provide little payment toward a pregnancy, we opted out.   Guess what happened next?   Of course!   We discovered we were expecting a child just sixteen days after our new policy went into effect.

Our perfect new little boy arrived in February.   We saved substantial money by negotiating on our own with the hospital and doctors and paying within 30 days of receiving the final bills.   The fact that insurance companies would not recognize previous maternity coverage and extend 100-percent coverage from day one ultimately cost us around $7,500.

My experience has made me understand even more the need for continued health care coverage reform.   Even more, I realize how blessed my family has been to be able to pay for our medical bills.   Many people can not withstand such an unbelievably high financial penalty.

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In this series, I will be sharing some key wagon staplers – tools that I believe are essential to keeping one stapled to the wagon – because we all have the potential to fall off the wagon – these wagon staples’ will help keep you on the wagon even in your moments of weakness!

Part Five Reward Yourself For Victories!

It is extremely important to establish key milestones in your financial journey and celebrate as each goal is accomplished!   If you are in an incredible financial mess and are just getting started on your financial journey, make sure you reward yourself for the small (but extremely important) victories.   Victories when you are just getting started out include:

  • Not using the credit card for an entire month
  • Preparing a budget and following it for an entire month (we offer several free ones – they are located HERE!)
  • Getting completely caught up on your bills – no late payments!

Of course, the celebration/reward needs to align with the goal that was accomplished.   Maybe the beginner celebrations would be going out to eat at McDonald’s and using the Dollar Menu.

As you make progress, the celebrations can be greater.   Here are some examples.

  • Paid off all non-house debt! REWARD:   Use the payments you used to make for debt to fund a weekend getaway
  • Hit $100,000 net worth REWARD:   Give $1,000 to a non-profit that you care about greatly
  • Pay off the house! REWARD:   Throw the biggest blow-out mortgage burning party ever and then depart for a 14-day trip to Costa Rica.
  • Pay cash for a new car! REWARD:   Drive the car on scenic three day trip and stay at a different Bed & Breakfast each night
  • Hit $1,000,000 net worth REWARD:   Buy a ski boat and give away the same amount to a cause you care about greatly
  • Pay for kid’s college in cash REWARD:   See your child start out life with ZERO debt AND go visit them regularly and take them and their friends out to eat at really nice restaurants!!!

I can go on and on and on and on … with this subject because I know that encouragement toward goals is what helps us stay on the wagon the most!

QUESTION FOR THE READERS:   What rewards have you given yourself for “staying on the financial wagon” and achieving your goals?

I hope this series has been helpful to you!   If you did not get a chance to read all of the posts, you can click the link below to read them.

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I Want To Know How Much It Costs!

As I sat in the hospital the other day, I was again reminded of how frustrating it can be to deal with financial matters relating to health care.

“How much does that procedure cost?”

Have you ever asked that question at a doctor’s or hospital office?

I have rarely received a straight answer.   In fact, most times the individual responds with a shocked look and then responds with an answer like, “I don’t know” or “I have no idea”.   Even worse, I get this response: “It all depends.”   To which I respond, “Just tell me an average amount I should plan for.”   I then receive the worst response ever, “It all depends on your insurance and care provided.”

I just want to know how much it costs!

Believe it or not, my doctor actually had a set number for cash-paying customers.   He even gave a discount for pre-payment of the fee!

Can you imagine going into Wal-Mart, picking up a gallon of   milk without seeing or being able to obtain a price?   Then at the checkout, it would be a magic formula of one part random fees, one part insurance company garbled language and rates, and another part how nice you spoke to the person?

Tell me about your experiences with hospitals and doctors and their clarity of fees.   Am I the only one?

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Health Insurance

Health insurance is a pit that makes money disappear.  I have seen that proven over and over.

However, I have seen that the LACK of health insurance is an even larger pit that not only makes money disappear, but many times it leads to bankruptcy or worse – a failure to diagnose a major health issue.

Health insurance is costly, but I wanted to share some tips that might help you save money as you acquire insurance or evaluate your current coverage.

  • Consider a High Deductible Health Plan.  An HDHP usually has a deductible of $2,500 or greater.  The insurance will not pay a dime for most items until the policy holder has paid an amount equal to the deductible.  After the deductible is reached, some plans pay 100% of the rest, other plans might require the policy holder to continue to pay a certain percentage.  Why is a HDHP good?  Because it is much cheaper because the policy holder has assumed more risk.  If you have a healthy family, a higher deductible can be a good risk to take because the deductible is not guaranteed to happen.  The premium is guaranteed to happen!
  • Purchase insurance with a Health Savings Account.  Health savings accounts allow one to save money on their health care expenses because the money can be used tax-free for healthcare-related expenses.  Think about it for a minute.  If a doctors appointment costs you $70 and you have to pay for it, it actually costs MORE than $70.  Why?  Because the $70 is AFTER you have paid payroll and income taxes.  You had to earn about $100 to net home $70.  If you have a HSA, you are able to use BEFORE TAX money which stretches your money about 30%!
  • Shop around.  There are a myriad of insurance plans available.  I personally shopped mine around on eHealthInsurance and with a local independent insurance agent.  I got a pretty good deal on a $5,000 Deductible Major Medical plan with a HSA.  After I spend $5,000 in the year, my insurance plan will pay 100% of the rest.
  • Compare GUARANTEED costs and MAXIMUM costs.  The premiums are guaranteed to happen.  Take the monthly cost and multiply it by 12 to obtain an annual cost.  Let's say a plan has a monthly cost of $250 and a deductible of $5,000 and the insurance will pay 100% after the deductible is met.  The guaranteed cost is $3,000 ($250 x 12 months).  The maximum cost would be $8,000 ($3,000 premiums PLUS $5,000 deductible).  I personally make it an objective to fund my HSA with an amount equal to the maximum cost so that when a major medical event occurs (baby!), I will have the funds ready to roll.

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Save A Ton Of Money On Insurance!

I was able to go to Foothills Community Church last night and sit in on the final session of the I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. Group Study.

To prepare for this final session, participants were directed to shop their insurance rates and come to session six with what they found.

The results seemed to surprise some in attendance, but they did not surprise me! If you have not shopped your insurance lately, you can save a TON of cash.

Here are some of the actual numbers reported last night.

  • Saved $300/year on Auto/Home
  • Saved $1,836/year on Auto/Home
  • Saved $660/year on Auto/Home
  • Saved $786/year on Auto/Home
  • Saved $110/year on 20-year Level Term Life Insurance

Why not get new insurance quotes?

The above link is to NetQuote, a company that I have used to obtain much better rates. Instead of having to call three different insurance companies and telling them your information three different times, you can type your info in once.  This info will be distributed to a bunch of different name-brand and independent agencies – all competing for your business.

You can get your home, auto, life, and health insurance quoted all at one time, and it can all be done in less than five minutes. Chances are good that you will save a ton of money. When you do, I hope you will click HERE and share how much you saved!