Rating the insurance companies

Has it occurred to you that it's not very fair when insurance companies start poking around your life. They want to know how well you drive your vehicle, what you have in your home worth protecting, how likely you are to fall sick and, most cheerfully, when you think you're going to die. There's no part of your life they don't investigate and build into their models for deciding how much to charge you as a premium in your latest policy. So you retaliate.
Instead of blindly picking a company out of yellow pages, you use a site like this to get comparative quotes from all the best companies. You then start poking around in their lives. Are these companies financially strong? Will they still be around in a few years time to pay on your claims? You want to choose the best company to insure you whether it's home, health, life or auto insurance. Why bother? Look around you. Banks and large insurance companies like AIG have been getting bailouts from the federal government. Checking out the financial strength of an auto insurance company is necessary before you start paying them your hard-earned dollars.

So where do you look? There are a number of companies that make their living by rating the performance of other companies. Some are general. So, for example, Standard & Poor rate the whole range of commercial enterprises including those in financial services (see their website at http://www.standardandpoors.com).

Others are more specialized like Fitch and A.M. Best which have the insurance industry as their primary focus (see their websites at http://www.fitchratings.com and http://www.ambest.com/). You should also find the website operated by the Insurance Department or Commissioner of Insurance for your own state. The best states not only operate a complaints service, but publish an annual report identifying all the companies against whom complaints have been upheld. This gives you a good measure of how the companies actually deliver on their advertised services.
Then you should ask around all your family, friends and colleagues at work. Check out what the word-of-mouth is on the companies you are thinking about giving your auto insurance business. The everyday experience of these people is a vital source of information. Slightly less reliable are the "complaint" or consumer report sites. Most of the people who put up reports are motivated by revenge. They have had poor service and want the world to know about it. Many commercial sites that depend on commission by selling auto insurance add their own "better" reports to balance out the bad. Read both good and bad with a skeptical eye. When you have rated the auto insurers, decide which one gives you the best value terms and buy.
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