The AM Best Rating – A Consumer’s Indispensable Tool

In this time of economic upheaval, consumers are searching for footholds to aid them in scaling the mountainous terrain of choosing insurance products. An AM Best rating is one tool that trendy consumers are using to guide their decisions.

What is an AM Best rating? It is an independent, third party evaluation of a company’s financial strength based upon qualitative data (or data that describes the characteristics of an organization) as well as quantitative data (measurable and verifiable data based on statistical analysis). It includes a thorough evaluation of an organization’s balance sheet strength, operating performance and business profile. Why is that important to the consumer? It is a strong indicator of the insurance company’s ability to meet its financial obligations to its policyholders. An insurance policy is only beneficial if the company is able to pay claims after a loss.

Founded in 1899, the AM Best Co had as its mission “To perform a constructive and objective role in serving the insurance marketplace as a source of reliable information and ratings dedicated to encouraging a financially strong industry through the prevention and detection of insurer insolvency” (2008 Best’s Insurance Reports). Since that time, AM Best ratings have been the benchmark worldwide for assessing insurers’ financial strength. In this article, we will examine the two primary components of the AM Best rating for consumers: the financial strength rating and the financial outlook score.

AM Best evaluates insurance companies according to financial strength and performance much like our educational institutions grade students. These ratings range from
A ++ to F and indicate to the consumer if a company is a prudent choice to handle his/her insurance business. Following is a breakdown of ratings:

A ++ and A+ Superior
A and A- Excellent
B++ and B+ Good
B and B- Fair
C ++ and C+ Marginal
D Poor
E Under regulatory supervision
F In liquidation

Since the rating is one predictor of a company’s ability to handle financial obligations to its policyholders, the higher the ranking, the greater the ability to sustain financial commitment during adverse changes. I don’t know about you, but when I have a loss, I want excellent or superior chances that my insurance company can pay me to cover it.

A second component to understand is the company’s financial outlook. AM Best uses three criterion to gauge a company’s financial outlook.

1. Positive. This indicates that the current rating may be upgraded in the future.
2. Negative. This indicates that the current rating may be downgraded in the future.
3. Stable. This indicates that at this time it is unlikely that the rating will change in the future.

10 Giant Mistakes Buyers Make When Buying a Home

Buyers make these 10 mistakes every single day. This is your first step to ensuring you don’t fall victim to these common pitfalls.

1. Not choosing an associate who is committed to forming a strong business relationship with you. Making a connection with the right professional is crucial. Choose an agent who is dedicated to meeting your needs – not only before, but also during and after the sale.

2. Not getting prequalified before writing an offer on an Edmonton home. Prequalification will make your life a whole ‘lot simpler. Take the time to speak with bank or mortgage reps. Their qualified evaluation of your income, financial obligations and other variables will help determine a price range that will fit your budget. This is one of the most important steps on the path to owning your very own Edmonton home.

3. Not knowing the total costs involved. Early in the home buying process, ask your real estate agent or mortgage broker for an estimate of closing costs. All expenses including title insurance, homeowners association dues and prepay responsibilities should be considered. Remember to examine your settlement statement prior to closing.

4. Not searching beyond open houses, ads or the internet. Many Edmonton properties listed in magazines or on the internet have already been sold. Your best course of action is to contact a real estate agent. They have up-to-date information on the Edmonton market that is unavailable to the general public, and are the best resource to help you find the home you want.

5. Not considering alternatives for what you think is the perfect home. Buying a home in Edmonton is a process of elimination, not selection. New properties arrive on the market daily, so be open to all possibilities. Ask your real estate agent to provide a comparative market analysis for information about other available Edmonton homes.

6. Not contemplating long-term needs. It is important to always think ahead! Will the home and the terms of the mortgage suit your needs in 3-5 years? How about in 5-10 years? Plan, plan and plan some more.

7. Not following through on due diligence. Make a list of any concerns you have relating to the home and the community, such as crime rates, schools, power lines, neighbours and environmental conditions and don’t forget the amenities. Ask the important questions before you make an offer on a property. Be diligent so that you can have confidence in your purchase.

8. Not having a home inspection. I will always recommend an inspection. There are far too many potential problems that are invisible to the naked eye… Trying to save money today can end up costing you tomorrow. A qualified home inspector will reveal potential issues that may affect your purchase decision. Your real estate agent should be able to hand you a list of quality inspectors.

9. Not examining insurance issues. Nobody likes paying for something they don’t need, nor do they enjoy missing out on specifics that should be included. Consult an insurance agent to make sure you choose the policy that best fits your needs.

10. Not purchasing a home warranty. This is essentially a mini isurance policy that usually lasts one year from the date of sale. It typically covers the repair of a home’s major systems and appliances, and can be purchased for a nominal fee with the option to renew annually. Talk to your agent to help you find the right home warranty.

Remember to refer back to this list to make sure you don’t overlook anything. Your agent should be more than aware of all of these things. However, it is a wonderful idea to educate yourself. A diligent buyer is a happy buyer.

Agent Marketers – How to Find the Best One

When some one talk about getting an insurance agent the first question that comes to mind that do you really need one? In today’s age, convenience of internet does solve lots of problems and one of them is excessive insurance news and information over the web. Now you can get lots of insurance quotes from every insurer and get to know policies of every insurance company. You can choose what kind of insurance policy you want to go for. The best part of getting insurance information online is that you can personally research all the rules and regulation of every company in detail.

But that does not mean that the having all kind of information online simply takes you away from consulting an actual insurance agent. Most of us do want to sit with a person who not only represents its insurance company even but better also shares the experiences and information that you won’t find online. The insurance agents are the experts for practical implication of the rules, regulations and policies that you read online. The aspect of any agent marketer that you should be concerned about are there sales target. This factor does make every insurance agent a bit biased when it comes to suggesting the right insurance coverage policy for its customers.

On the other hand a real professional insurance agent would never jeopardize the customer’s interest just to meet the annual sales target. Every good agent marketer would try to make a professional impression on the client as they intend retain their customers for long term which give them more future business prospects. It’s obvious that a client who has walked in for a personal life insurance would also go for his spouse life coverage and children health coverage and probably home insurance too in the future. But you would only prefer to give the business to same insurance agent over and over if you only get a good deal.

Its big question, how to know that you actually got a very cheap insurance quote and you have also end up covering the most risks. You can only know that if you shop around. Obviously internet helps enormously in this case. It’s best to get all the information about insurance companies, get multiple quotes from different companies and also be updated about latest insurance news before going to any insurance agent.

When you have done your own research, then you are in a better position to actually judge which insurance agent is best for you. The first sign of good insurance agent would be that he or she listen to you first and completely understand what you need instead to explaining the company coverage policy in a marketing style. Secondly the right insurance agent also put lots options for you and most of the time gives you very better solution for what you have in mind. Further you can always ask your friends or relative for a reference as which policy are they using or which insurance agent did they go to. The bottom line is that you can only know that which agent marketer would be best for you if you have done your research properly.

Market Search Directories Inc. specializes in providing news and information services along with information directories to professionals in the insurance and financial services industries. Market Search Directories, Inc.’s reporting staff is comprised of experienced writers and journalists who monitor and provide the latest updates in financial and insurance news from across the United States. To get the latest news and top services for insurance check out the following link: