Recently the results of a Desjardins Group survey landed in my inbox and I was surprised to learn just how much Canadians know – and don’t know – about insurance products. In fact, the one thing the survey makes clear is that Canadians in general seem to know less than they should about choosing their coverage. Here are some of the results:
- Only 44 per cent of respondents know that not all insurance policies come with a surrender value.
- Only 45 per cent knew that water damage is the most common type of claim filed by homeowners.
- Close to 40 per cent of those protected by home insurance did not keep any of the lists, sales slips or photos of their most valuable assets that would help them submit an accurate claim in the event of a loss.
- 30 per cent did not know whether their credit card comes with travel insurance, whereas 32 per cent knew that it does, but knew little about the coverage itself.
- A third of respondents have either opted for or refused a mortgage insurance product offered by a lending institution, without first assessing their financial situation or comparing costs with other mortgage insurance products available on the market.
Ask And You Shall Receive
Those numbers aren’t flattering, are they? But the good news is that they can point us in the direction of the kinds of questions we should be asking. The survey reveals that we need to ask insurance brokers the following questions:
- Does my policy come with a surrender value?
- What are the most common types of claims made by homeowners?
- What steps do I need to take to ensure that I can submit the most accurate claim possible?
- Does my credit card offer travel insurance? If so, what kind of coverage do I have?
- Are there other mortgage insurance products on the market? Are you willing to match them if I find something more suitable/affordable?
Since, according to the survey, it’s obvious that we’re not asking some of the more important questions, it’s quite possible that we’re not asking any questions at all. If you arm yourself with a good list of questions before meeting with your potential broker, you’ll be one step closer to choosing the right policy for you.
Questions About Your Broker
The first step in choosing the right insurance policy is choosing the right broker. Here are a few questions you can ask your broker regarding who they are and what they do, although some of these questions will have to be answered through research. The answers to these questions will help you to determine whether or not the broker you’re speaking with is the right choice for you.
- Does your broker have a good reputation?
- How long has your broker worked in the industry?
- How knowledgeable is he or she about the industry?
- Can you meet with their staff?
- How often will your broker be in contact with you?
Questions About Coverage
No doubt, your number one question will involve cost – and so it should. Affordability is an important factor in determining the right policy for you, and it’s important to clearly understand just what is offered for the cost of your coverage. Be knowledgeable of hidden fees - and always, always read the fine print.
- How much will this cost me?
- Why do I need this policy?
- Is this the best policy for me? Are there alternatives?
- What does this policy cover?
- How quickly are claims processed?
- Are there any pre-qualifications that need to be met?
- What are the limitations of my coverage?
- What are stop loss numbers? Do they affect my policy?
- What is my policy’s lifetime maximum benefit? For the record, lifetime maximum benefit is the maximum amount that a plan will pay out to an insured individual during that individual’s lifetime.
So there you have it, a list of questions for you and your potential new insurance broker. Remember, the answers to these questions can make all the difference – and don’t be afraid to ask for a second opinion.