Differences between insurance companies

Here is just a tiny sampling of important differences between competing insurance companies which have absolutely nothing to do with premiums, but they can affect you greatly.

  • The weight placed on your credit score as it relates to you qualifying for coverage, and the availability of coverages that you may want.
  • Your selection of a Revocable vs. Irrevocable Trust to hold real estate and whether you have/will be gifting percentages of Trust ownership.
  • Whether you get to choose the amount of coverage on your home or are limited to what the insurance company tells you to insure it for (which is nearly always wrong, in my opinion).
  • Whether your son/daughter who lives at home can be listed on your auto policy if they own their own car (run away as fast as you can if they say no, by the way).
  • Whether they have underwriters able to make decisions beyond what the computer tells them.
  • Whether they have a staff of Claims Adjusters experienced in general, and in your specific area of need, specifically.
  • Whether they can articulate their ideal client and why they are uniquely positioned to serve that target market better than their competitors (I’ve found only one insurance companies who answer this one!).


Photo: Rachael McGraw.  Mt. Stuart, WA


If all we had going for us at our firm was a means to provide for our families, that would be reason enough to be thankful.  Thankful for our clients who treat us so well, thankful for friendly professionals who refer us to other families in need, and thankful for the opportunity to conduct entrepreneurial free enterprise to the best of our ability.  That’d be a fine prayer of thanksgiving.

But we are also thankful that we’ve evolved this firm to be a way of expressing and exercising our passion.  We get to continually learn, to share acquired knowledge and wisdom to improve someone else’s life, and to inspire others to make good financial decisions.  And in the service of others we get to unburden some of the load and risk of families trying to navigate a complex issue by themselves.  We realize not everyone finds a job that they’re passionate about, so we are grateful that we have.

So we are thankful for the business success, of course, but we’re more thankful that we get to do it in the manner in which we think we’re called.

Photo: Makenna Wall. Cle Elum, WA

The Competitive Advantage of Fulfillment

This is one of my all-time favorite TED talks because it’s funny and because it posits an antidote to the cult of average, centered on the competitive advantage of having a positive belief system.  It’s work related because we believe there’s a business edge in being happy about the work that you do for others.  We enjoy being the relied-upon encourager of smart financial decisions, and our clients tell us that makes us unique and better.  I’ll take that every day.

The Happy Secret to Better Work – presented by Shawn Achor

Image result for shawn achor the cult of average

Photo: Rachael McGraw.  Flathead Lake, MT

Insurance is not risk management

An insurance policy is to wealth protection as a mortgage is to home ownership.  There are no inherent benefits to owning an insurance policy or owning a mortgage.  But in both cases they are funding mechanisms that accomplish the goal with the real value – protecting your wealth and owning a home.

A common mistake among consumers is that they believe insurance is somehow protection against risk, or some transfer of risk.  It is neither.  And this mistaken belief can lead to the bad choice of not creating a more comprehensive plan to deal with losses before they happen (for example, I’d be rich if I had a dollar for every time in trying to settle a lawsuit I heard someone say “I should’ve had that in writing”).  In my experience, the most devastating financial losses have occurred because people assumed their insurance would address it – when it didn’t.

So instead, make a comprehensive plan for protecting wealth that incorporates how you’ll control risk, how you’ll find someone to whom you can transfer risk, and how you’ll finance risk with insurance and/or some other source of funds.  The more complete your approach in this regard, the less likely you’ll come to learn first-hand how many holes there are in an over-reliance on just an insurance policy.

Photo: Rachael McGraw, Gullfoss, Iceland

The RIGHT way to use insurance

The most important thing you can do with your insurance portfolio is to use it as the license to go take some risks for the betterment of you, your family, and other people.  I’m not talking about uncalculated or irresponsible actions where harm is a likely result, I’m talking about behaviors and decisions that aim to benefit yourself and those around you.

We seem to be a society consumed by fear and risk aversion.  We counsel our kids that college is for job training, not a season for exploration.  We want government to regulate our safety (and conversely, use litigation to punish those who didn’t protect us).  We stay in jobs we hate because leaving them is scary (how many times have you heard someone say they’re in it for the health insurance).  We don’t start our own small businesses anymore because so many fail.

What good is theft insurance if you sit at home with the alarm set?  Set the alarm, go on vacation!

What good is disability insurance if you sit at a cubicle and then on the sofa?  Go skiing!

What good is company health insurance if you hate your job for which you have no passion or talent? Go to school online, volunteer off-time at a non-profit, start a side business!

What good is insurance in general if you hoard wealth for the sake of hoarding?  Free and loosen your hold and use your wealth to leverage betterment!

The nobility of insurance is not in its existence, it is in your intent and your use of it to go do the things that you should.

Photo: Rachael McGraw, Paris, France


Stop asking what they want you to ask

If you are reviewing or shopping your insurance portfolio and really want to uncover the differences in your choices:

Stop asking:  Who has lower premiums?  Who has the best discounts?  Should I bundle my policies?  Who provides good customer service?  Which insurance company gets good reviews?  Can I pay monthly?

Start asking:  How will I be judged when they calculate my premium?  How can I improve how I’ll look to this insurance company?  Does this insurance company have a human being ready to work with me, or is it a computer doing all the judging?  Does this insurance company have an interest, experience, and an ability to deal with my wealth and lifestyle?  What’s the future premium curve going to look like if I have a claim?  How committed are they to the future with me?  Are they increasing or reducing their product offerings?  Can they articulate who their ideal client is and does that look like me?  In what way do they stand out against their competition?

Photo:  Rachael McGraw, Seljalandsfoss, Iceland