Guide to Buying Insurance locallyGet a quote
Guide to Buying Insurance locally
In this brief guide it may be possible to discover just what you may be missing out on when buying from anonymous providers and what seemingly old-fashioned values still hold currency if you choose to buy your insurance locally.
It may be helpful, therefore, to review:
- the need you are likely to have for various kinds of insurance cover;
- how local brokers may be able to offer a service that internet providers are unlikely to be able to match
- the kind of bespoke service which your local provider typically offers;
- the ability to speak to a real person in surroundings with which you are familiar, rather than a faceless voice at the end of a call centre telephone line; and
- help if and when you need it in negotiating any claims procedure with your chosen insurer.
These – and more – are just some of the benefits you are likely to encounter when arranging the cover you need with GSI Insurance. Based in Whitstable, we are ideally place to serve the whole of Kent, the southeast, and, for that matter, the whole of the country.
Insurance to meet your needs
Although you may be buying locally, there is still a huge range of insurance products typically available from the high street broker. These are likely to fall under the broad heading of general insurance products, which in turn are likely to be classified into groups such as household insurance, motor insurance, business insurance, and a range of other specialist and non-standard insurance products.
Perhaps the simplest definition of general insurance is that provided on the Wikipedia website – general insurance is any form of insurance that is not life insurance. Given the large range of different risks that may be included under such a definition it may help to split it into different categories:
- a home and its contents may represent the largest investment anyone is likely to make;
- at the centre of the many different kinds of household insurance, therefore, is cover for both the structure and fabric of the building and for all the personal possessions within it – building and contents insurance;
- although standard home building and contents insurance may provide the bedrock for the protection of bricks and mortar and their contents, there are also a large number of more specialist household insurance products;
- amongst these, perhaps one of the most important is insurance designed to protect the essential business assets of any landlord – cover for the buy to let property, its contents and other business risks covered under the broad heading of landlord insurance;
- whilst there are products designed to offer protection for the properties owned both by homeowners and landlords, there are still further specialist products covering a range of non-standard risks;
- included amongst these might be numbered special forms of cover to protect against the risk of the building subsiding, insurance against the particular risk of flooding, unoccupied property and renovations insurance;
- one item of general insurance is actually a legal obligation for anyone wanting to drive a motor vehicle on the roads or any other public space – motor insurance
although the legal requirement is only for a basic cover against third party claims, motor policies are considerably more sophisticated in the way that they also provide third party, fire and theft or comprehensive levels of cover;
- not only that, but – just as in the case of household policies – there is a whole range of non-standard motor insurance products too;
- thus, there are policies for different kinds of non-standard vehicle – whether high performance, four-wheel drive or classic cars, for example – and cover for drivers who may have been previously convicted of a motoring offence (and who therefore find it difficult, or impossible, to arrange standard motor insurance);
- gap insurance is also available – and may be a condition imposed by some lenders – to cover the potential shortage of funds between the insurance valuation of a stolen or written-off vehicle and the outstanding amount of any loan or credit facility made to the vehicle’s owner;
- business owners face a range of particular risks which threaten the smooth and uninterrupted running of their enterprises – there are forms of general insurance to safeguard against these risks also;
- the business premises themselves, for example, may need the protection of commercial property insurance to protect the buildings and contents against potentially major disasters such as fire, flooding, explosions, impacts, theft and vandalism;
- additional – and potentially crippling – threats to any business may lie in claims against the company’s public or employers liabilities and the professional liabilities of its employees;
- for those businesses relying upon the operation or sale of motor vehicles, there is also motor trade insurance and fleet insurance;
- whilst household, motor and business categories of general insurance clearly cover many of the risks encountered in everyday life, there are still other areas in which the protection of insurance cover may be necessary;
- travel insurance, for instance, is widely regarded as a top priority for anyone travelling abroad – and is described as such by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office;
- whether towing in this country or abroad, caravan insurance also comes in a wide variety of different policies designed to safeguard the financial investment by individuals in a very wide range of different caravans;
- when the caravan acts as a second home on its pitch in a holiday park, there is also static caravan insurance.
It may be apparent, therefore that there is a literally huge range of different types of general insurance specifically designed to protect against the risks encountered in everyday life.
Matching a particular kind of cover with the needs and requirements of any given individual, however, may be complicated by the sheer choice of insurance products available on the market.
To help you cut through the bewildering range of choice and try to ensure that the cover you buy is most likely to match your particular needs and circumstances – without leaving you exposed to certain risks or overinsured against others – there may be a lot to be said for consulting your local insurance broker.
What a local insurance provider may offer
When attempting to negotiate the minefield of different types of insurance for different types of cover, it may be tempting to go it alone.
Recent years have seen an explosion in the practice not only of buying goods and services online but also of using web-based price comparison sites. The logic may appear sound – if you know what cover you need, a comparison website may lead you to the most competitively priced product.
There are a number of flaws in such logic – and flaws which you may find a local insurance provider suitably equipped to address:
- what many users of price comparison websites may not know is that there is often a close business relationship between the site itself and the insurers reviewed upon it
indeed, some insurers may actively promote and sponsor such websites;
- following an in-depth study of the impact on the car insurance market, the Competition and Markets Authority has concluded that such relations between comparison websites and individual insurers is an unhealthy one and not in the best interests of consumers – according to a report by the BBC for example;
- your local insurance provider on the other hand has the wherewithal to maintain a strictly independent relationship with those insurers it may recommend;
- a local broker is able to put the customer’s interests first and foremost – without the vested interest of a particular financial relationship of any one insurer over another;
- indeed, some local brokers are so confident of their being able to meet the prices offered by online comparison websites that they undertake to match that price on a like for like basis (at GSI Insurance, for example, we offer a service to local residents whereby we match the price of any online motor insurance quote on a like for like basis):
- by putting the interests of the customer first and foremost, the local insurance provider is able to offer the advice that is notably absent from comparison websites or even directly from insurers themselves;
- the problem with conducting your own research into the cover you believe you may need, for instance, is just that – knowing what kind, level and scope of insurance cover you need;
- whether you have been directed to a particular insurer from a comparison website or go directly to your chosen insurer, you may be unlikely to receive any advice about what cover you actually need rather than the policies that may be offered;
- your local broker on the other hand is able to assess your particular, individual circumstances and requirements and help you ensure that no aspect or angle is overlooked, yet no unnecessary element of insurance is included in the policy you choose to buy;
- this personal level of service from your local broker is made possible by your dealing with a real person – whether online, by telephone or even face to face in their own office;
- you might contrast this personalised level of contact with the anonymity you are almost certain to encounter when dealing with a large, national chain – either through its website or through what has become the all too ubiquitous call centre (which might not even be based in this country);
- by dealing with the real people running your local insurance provider you may benefit from a personal relationship that extends not only to arranging a one-off insurance policy, but also to future renewals and, of course, any other type of general insurance cover in which you may be interested;
- if the worst comes to the worst and you need to make a claim on any particular insurance policy that is the time you may discover how potentially complicated and time-consuming the claims process may be;
- your local broker is likely to offer help, guidance and a step by step approach to successfully negotiating your claim and therefore securing the eventual settlement to which you are entitled;
- once again, you might want to contrast this level of service with the scant – or even non-existent – assistance you may receive when dealing directly with the insurer.
Despite the apparent attractions of shopping through comparison websites or buying your insurance directly from an insurer online, a number of flaws begin to emerge.
Through the wide range of services, independent and impartial help and assistance you are likely to receive from your local insurance provider on the other hand.
The development of the internet as a showcase for goods and services and the emergence of websites which may help to compare the respective prices for those goods and services may have brought us undoubted benefits.
Along with any benefits, however, there are also drawbacks and apparent flaws in the underlying logic of shopping entirely online.
There is a literally huge range of general insurance products on the market and the internet may be the place to begin to understand what each has to offer and how different policies may help to safeguard our particular investments and activities. The internet also offers the ability to buy directly from the insurers themselves or from large national chains.
Faced with an overwhelming range of different products, from an overwhelming number of different insurers, and with the particular needs and circumstances of each individual customer to be taken into account, however, and the online purchasing of insurance typically has severe limitations.
You might want to overcome those limitations, therefore, by taking a step back from the apparent modernity and appeal of shopping entirely online and instead seeking the expert experience of your local insurance broker.
In addition to the independent expertise and experience that your local broker may bring to bear in assessing your particular insurance needs and requirements, you may also count upon a level of service that puts the customer first and foremost, in a relationship involving real people and with the possibility of practical advice on putting together a claim if and when one becomes necessary.