Sunday, August 26, 2012

Double Check Your Auto and Home Insurance Rates!

I've learned a lot in the past month in the financial services industry, and I've only scratched the surface.  I plan on taking the Pennsylvania life insurance exam in mid-September.  Primerica pays for it, so long as I pass the company's "Guaranteed Pass Exam" with a score of 80%.  Until then, Primerica has other ways for me to make commission, even before passing the life insurance and securities exams.

The best way I can do it is by providing quotes for auto and home insurance.  Primerica doesn't actually sell auto or home insurance.  In the past, the company sold it through Travelers, but in recent years has partnered with an insurance company broker.  The broker takes an applicant's insurance needs, driving record, claims history, etc and takes it through 23 top-rated insurance companies to see who can give you the best rate.  If the customer is happy with the result, then I get a small commission.

This week I was approved to start doing this, so of course, I became my own first customer.  When I ran the numbers, I was shocked.  Our 6 month premium for auto insurance went from $673 to $595.  Our annual premium for home owners insurance dropped from $756 to $483.  Add those numbers up, and I'm saving my family $429 a year.

In case you were wondering, the coverage is decent: 100,000/300,000 for bodily injury liability, $250 deductibles for both comprehensive and collision, and full tort.  I'm also cancelling the Subaru Roadside Assistance that I pay $80 a year, because I got roadside assistance included in this policy for $12.

Prior to this change, my wife and I were insured through State Farm.  I want to be clear here, there is nothing wrong with State Farm.  The company has insured me since I was a teenager.  Their customer service is superb and I never had a problem filing a claim.  The only reason we've switched is because I can get the same package and save $429 a year.  If State Farm's rates go down, I'm happy to switch back.  In the meantime, I'm enjoying the savings with a different top-rated company and encouraging others to do the same.

Interestingly enough, I've heard a few objections for changing insurance in favor of better rates, most of them due to loyalty to the agent.  "Our agent is actually a friend of ours," or "State Farm has been really good to us."  Both statements are true, but if your agent is really your friend, then he/she will understand and continue to be your friend after you switch.  State Farm was good to me too, but I now I have another company that's good to me, and it is costing me $429 less this year.

In the interest of full disclosure, I didn't switch all my insurance policies from State Farm.  I rent out a condo that I used to live in, and State Farm's rates for rental owners insurance were still competitive at $220 a year.  I also kept my mortgage disability income insurance with them since it's fairly inexpensive and have yet to find another company offering this type of policy.

So what company did I switch to?  Well, I'm not saying on the blog, because I don't want to lose potential business from customers switching without me.  I can tell you that it's rated very well by A.M. Best.  It's been in business for over 50 years and had well over $300 million in revenues in 2011.  Plus, depending on your driving record, claims history, etc, the company that I switched to may not be the company that offers you the best rate- it may be one of the other 23 top-rated companies that partners with our brokering service.

So if you're interested in getting a quote (whether to purchase or just to compare to what you already have), please contact me via e-mail: plim[dot]2nnaa[at]primerica[dot]com (only written it in this format to trick the spam-bots).  Checking rates over the phone will only take 15-20 minutes, and there is absolutely no obligation to buy.

Of course in a year or so, I'll check the rates again and maybe get a better rate than before!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sign Me Up, Jim!

I remember thinking: "If even 60% of what you're telling me is true, then it's worth me checking it out."  That's what I thought almost a month ago when he was telling me about Primerica.

I'm referring to Jim, and Jim is now my trainer for Primerica.  He has reached the level of Regional Vice President within the Primerica food chain and actually lives several houses down the street from me.  Prior to this, I had known him to see him around the neighborhood.  My wife would notice him almost every morning walking his youngest son down to the bus stop.  We would see him later in the evening in front of his house or walking his dog on our family walk through the neighborhood.  He was always a nice guy, quick to offer a friendly hello.

One day he asked to meet with us, to talk about what he does and see if it could benefit us.  He never said financial services, but I knew what he was getting at.  I didn't mind- he was a nice guy and everybody has to make money some how.  Plus, we had been procrastinating setting up any type of savings plan for our kids, so I knew this could at least get a step closer.

He gave us the spiel, and almost instantly had my attention.  He came in with the intention of "hooking" me I'm sure, and he did everything right.  With previous companies, I had heard all the money making lines such as, "There's a lot of money changing hands, and we get piece every time it does."  Don't get me wrong, with Primerica there's definitely a little hype with buzz phrases like "financially independent" and "discovering freedom."  However there's also a strong sense of helping families, particularly when people live to short (life insurance) or live to long (retirement funds).  Jim delivered a company spiel, but it's obvious to me that he believes everything he says.

He has good reason to believe everything he says- it's worked for him so far.  He's been with Primerica for over 20 years.  His wife is a stay-at-home mom for their 3 kids, one of which is in college.  His house (and his income) compares with most physicians I work with at the hospital.  I've listened attentively to everything he has said, and I found no holes in his story.  He's worked hard for Primerica, and it's clear that Primerica has worked for him.

Of course, success isn't for everybody in this business.  In fact, most people who try this don't finish.  Out of 10 people, around 3 will pass the life insurance exam and join the team.  Many quit during the training process, and Jim describes them as people giving up too easily.  I'm the exact opposite.  I may pick my battles for strategy, but I'm not a quitter.  I might even hate what I'm doing, but I always finish what I start.  Jim may not know what he's gotten into!

When I agreed to sign on, I told him that I wouldn't buy any of his products until I started making some money.  This was my way of making sure he sticks with me, and he agreed on my strategy.  He's been quite complimentary of me so far, some of which I'm sure is learned affirmation from Primerica.  On the other hand, he's done this long enough to know who might succeed and who won't.  He's placed me in the succeeding category- I sure hope he's right.

In the meantime, I'm continuing to setup my training appointments and study for the life insurance exam.  I've already made my first training sale (with Jim doing most of the work).  I also get a nice little bonus if one of the sales also decides to give this business a try.  My schedule is much tighter than I prefer since I'm working full-time and having a busy family life, but I'm hoping this will all pay off in the long run.

In case you were wondering, to sign the independent business agreement, the application fee is $99.  Then after that there is a fee of $25/month.  That's actually small money (my wife can blow a lot more than that in a weekend) since Primerica seems to give so much more, including covering the fees for the life insurance exam and state licence.  I'm also discovering all the tax deductions for having my own business- those are worth it, too!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Before Picture

I want to do more.  But before I can tell you what that means, it's good know where I'm at right now.

We moved into our new home a little over a year ago.  It's been a good home so far.  Coming from the townhouse we had before, it seemed huge when we moved in.  Now our young kids are starting to grow, I wish the size of the house could grow, too!  Nevertheless, it's a decent house, it meets our needs, and it's our home.

I'd like to think that our family is the typical middle class family.  My wife and I both work.  We have two kids, two cars, and a small dog.  Financially speaking, we're doing okay.  The bills are getting paid.  There's a little debt I wish we didn't have.  We're probably living a little more "paycheck to paycheck" than I prefer.  For the most part, things are okay.  But that's just it, we're doing okay and I want to more than that.

I'm a licensed social worker.  Stereotypically, social workers aren't known for making a lot of money, and that's more true than I care to admit.  For me, my base salary is actually pretty decent for being a hospital social worker, so I really can't complain.  I also have the ability to bring home more money by volunteering to be the hospital's on call social worker.  The on call rotation is a part of our job, but many of my colleagues are happy to give their hours away if there's someone else who needs the extra cash.  It can be rough, especially if paged in at 2am, but it's a good way to get an extra day or two's pay added to the paycheck.

Several times I'd thought about getting into the financial services industry from social work (the two fields can be very similar).  On at least three occasions, I met with people from different companies.  I became very interested each time, but ultimately turned each offer down.  They wanted someone who was willing to drop everything, not bring home a paycheck for two months, and pound the pavement to find leads.  I also felt very poached- they wanted me to turn over the names of my family, friends, and anyone else I knew for more leads.  I didn't like that feeling at all.  I didn't want to look at everybody as if they were a walking dollar sign and a way for me to get more money.  These were sales jobs, dressed in a financial services disguise.

I wanted to bring home more money, but not like that.

I'm a firm believer that the ends do not justify the means.  I believe that how I make money is just as important as having it, and how I spend it.  Maybe I won't make as much money as the other guy with values like this, but I like my faith and my values and intend to keep them.

So this is me, and at the end of last month I signed an independent business agreement with Primerica, in addition to my full-time job.  I intend to find out if I can still be a social worker, still hold my faith and values, while making some additional money in the financial services industry.  There's still a lot of sales, but Primerica's character is completely different.  I find the company's sense of service and desire to get families what they need very attractive.   Plus, it's the only company I know that will let me do this on my own time while working and having a family.

My future entries on this blog entries will track my progress and ultimately tell the story. I hope it's one with a good ending!

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