Nashville insurance insight: why auto insurance rates differ for men and women

Nashville insurance insight: why auto insurance rates differ for men and women

The list of factors that can figure into your auto insurance rates is a lengthy one — your car, your location, your commute, your age, your credit… and, at least to some extent, even your gender.

Surprised by that? From the outside, I can see it feeling a little bizarre. But the way it figures in isn’t quite as basic as that might seem — more, your rates might get affected by driving data related to all the subgroups you’re a part of, whether that means “teenagers” or “men.”

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Nashville insurance insight: the best business insurance for most small businesses

Nashville insurance insight: the best business insurance for most small businesses

If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner in Nashville, what you need, insurance-wise, is as unique as your business itself. So if you’re shopping for small business insurance, I wouldn’t make an across-the-board recommendation, since at least half the time, I’d probably be recommending too little, too much or not specific enough coverage.

That said, if we’re just talking averages, most of you will probably end up with what’s called a business owners policy, or BOP. So if you’re just starting to explore insurance to protect your company or project, that’s, to me, the best place to start reading.

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Nashville insurance insight: Does your small business need to worry about cybersecurity?

Nashville insurance insight: Does your small business need to worry about cybersecurity?

Whether you’re a business owner in Nashville or an employee, I’m sure you’ve been paying close attention to cybersecurity in recent years — particularly in the wake of the massive Equifax security breach, which affected 143 million American consumers.

As citizens, we were (and are) all left worried about whether our information was breached, whether our identities might be stolen, and what we could do to protect ourselves now and in the future.

If you’re an entrepreneur/small business owner, odds are you also got to thinking: Do I know enough about how cyber risk could affect my business? Am I protected?

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Nashville insurance insight: auto insurance rates are rising, and here’s why

Nashville insurance insight: auto insurance rates are rising, and here’s why

I have two main goals as a Nashville insurance broker: keeping my clients adequately covered, and doing so at the best rate possible.

I do have to admit, though, that those rates, specifically on the auto insurance front, keep getting tougher to keep down.

Quick and dirty data: Over about a decade, average auto insurance costs in the U.S. steadily and consistently rose — over the past few years, it’s been around 2 to 3 percent a year. That might seem like a small percentage, but it adds up — in 2006, the average annual car insurance expenditure was close to $800; by 2015, it was closer to $900.

That broader trend has been true in most states, including Tennessee — only Arkansas, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia saw average car insurance premium drop recently.

When the U.S. trend moves in an upward direction, your personal rates may (and in a lot of cases, will) follow.

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Nashville insurance insight: fun, fast facts about home, car insurance and more

Nashville insurance insight: fun, fast facts about home, car insurance and more

For the past year or so, I’ve been sharing interesting/weird/unusual insurance facts on the Tucker Coverage Instagram feed, in part because I like digging up factoids about my industry.

Sometimes those factoids are more utilitarian, like tips on when to shop for life insurance if you’re pregnant. Sometimes, they’re slightly more bizarre, like that time a herd of goats attacked a car because they saw their reflection in the shiny paint.

On occasion, I share some good money news, like the fact that insuring a car in Nashville tends to be 20 percent cheaper than the Tennessee average.

Insurance, in Nashville and everywhere, is multi-faceted.

For those of you who aren’t Instagrammers or who haven’t stumbled upon my #InsuranceFacts, I’ve collected a few of my favorites here. You can also peruse my whole feed. If you’d like to a fact delivered to your phone a handful of times a week, hope you'll give me a follow on Instagram.

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Nashville insurance insight: FAQ about independent insurance agents

Nashville insurance insight: FAQ about independent insurance agents

I grew up in that cusp generation people are now (kind of disconcertingly) calling Xennials — born in an analog world, coming of age in a digital one.

So, when I was still in short pants, legacy service industries were king — you booked your vacations with a travel agent, called an accountant to do your taxes, linked up with an insurance agent to cover your cars, your homes and your lives.

Along the way, as we all got digitally tethered, folks my age and younger got disconnected — maybe even a little distrustful — of those legacy services. Why call a travel agent when Captain Obvious says I can get the best hotels and rates by myself, through a website?

I get it, and I don’t shun the digital revolution — I still spend my allotted share of time ordering burritos through apps and trying to be funny on Instagram. But even if I’m a bit biased, I’ve come to feel really strongly that professional service industries like mine are returning to prominence because a) we’re all too busy doing everything ourselves to actually do everything ourselves b) having to research everything, all the time, is giving us a new appreciation of built-in expertise and c) what I do doesn’t cost anything extra — it usually saves money.

I think, ultimately, that independent insurance agents like me just need to make the value of what we do more clear, and more present, to people who’ve been convinced they have to lock themselves to a laptop to get anything and everything done.

So, in that spirit, here are some frequently asked questions about what I do, and how and why I do it, that I hope will shed light on why going with an independent insurance agent for all your insurance needs is easier, faster and all-around better.

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Nashville insurance insight: What liability limits should the average driver carry?

Nashville insurance insight: What liability limits should the average driver carry?

I find that most drivers, when shopping for car insurance in Nashville, are focused on their car and on fulfilling Tennessee’s basic requirements. They’re making sure they have the coverage they need to repair or replace their daily transportation, and making sure they’re legal. Basic, simple.

But I’d argue that your biggest concern as a Nashville driver — and the biggest value your car insurance policy provides — is liability. Even a nice car usually maxes out in the tens of thousands. A serious liability situation — though unusual — can zoom well past that.

So I’d encourage you to think about your liability insurance not as an afterthought or a basic requirement, but a key part of protecting your assets.

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Nashville insurance insight: What does home insurance usually cost in Nashville?

Nashville insurance insight: What does home insurance usually cost in Nashville?

One question I’ve gotten a lot in my time as an independent insurance agent here in Nashville, particularly from new and soon-to-be homeowners: “So what does home insurance usually cost here?”

It’s a hard question to answer — kinda like asking, “What does a car cost here in Nashville?” It depends: What kind of shape is the car in, how many bells and whistles are you looking for, and how good is your credit?

Home insurance rates in Nashville depend on a lot of things, and I’m more than happy to dig into all the different variables and how they can help/not-so-help you. Just reach out.

But for the purposes of answering that question in at least a basic way — getting you acquainted with that component of Nashville homeownership, ballpark wise — I sketched out some averages, and showed you where we fit in them.

Hopefully, it helps with context. But if you’d like to go deeper — and shop for coverage that fits your home and family — I’m always here to help.

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Nashville insurance insight: Some easy (and not so easy) ways to save on car insurance

Nashville insurance insight: Some easy (and not so easy) ways to save on car insurance

There are tips and tricks (and just general good practices) that’ll help you cut down rates for all kinds of insurance, from life insurance to homeowners insurance.

As an independent Nashville insurance agent, I advise clients on almost all of it, from photographers hunting for affordable small business insurance to new moms looking for life insurance rates that still leave space in the budget for diaper-buying. But if I’m looking at bare statistics, more of you probably want car insurance savings tips than anything else.

Fun facts: Right now, about 70 million people have home or renters insurance in America, which, to be fair, is a whole lot of folks.

But there are about 222 million licensed drivers in the U.S., and about 87 percent of them are insured. So we’re looking at roughly 193 million Americans shopping for affordable car insurance. That’s a pretty big party. Would if I could help ‘em all.

If you’re looking for good and affordable car insurance in Nashville, I’d be glad to find a mix of options, compare/contrast and advise you. Just give me a call/email, or fill out this quick form for an online quote. (It doesn’t cost you anything extra in fees or in rates to have me do your legwork, either.)

But ahead/aside of that (or, even if you don’t shop for car insurance through Tucker Coverage), I’d like to share a few good tips/practices to keep in your back pocket.

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Nashville insurance insight: Ways to improve your credit score

Nashville insurance insight: Ways to improve your credit score

The calculations that go into home insurance and car insurance rates in Nashville (and everywhere else) are complex — a wide array of figures and facts compiled and crunched to predict the future.

Among the important details for just about all kinds of insurance: your credit score.

There’s no across-the-board statistic that’ll show exactly how much your credit score affects your insurance costs — different insurance companies use that information in different ways, and weigh it out to different extents. But in most cases, it’s a significant part of how companies suss out where you fall on the risk spectrum.

Statistically, credit history tends to ride alongside other arbiters of responsibility, like a clean driving record and lower numbers of insurance claims. Explains why insurance companies eyeball it.

The good thing is, if your credit score is, at the moment, lower than you’d like it to be, there are things you can do to tweak it. (Scores under 600 aren’t looked at as optimal.)

Below, a few tips culled from credit reporting agencies that can help you on the path to a higher credit score.

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Nashville insurance insight: frozen pipes and what to do about them

Nashville insurance insight: frozen pipes and what to do about them

While I’m writing this, we’re nestled in the trademark Nashville winter — it’s a balmy 64 degrees outside, but we just came out of a deep freeze, and if the Weather Channel’s right, we’ll be back in the cold (and maybe the snow) this weekend.

While Nashville was chilled over last week, frozen pipes were once again the talk of the town. Plumbers and insurance agents can always bet on a barrage of calls from homeowners when the mercury drops that low, since ice-plugged faucets — and, unfortunately, burst and cracked pipes — are an all-too-common part of winter.

Cracked and burst pipes tend to be a bigger worry with older Nashville homes — newer homes benefit from updated codes requirements that keep water lines away from outside walls, and from PEX pipes that might freeze like copper pipes, but are far less likely to burst. But I figure any homeowner can benefit from knowing how to prevent frozen pipes, and knowing what to do if it happens.

So, here, a few tips culled from the pros:

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Nashville insurance insight: making a home insurance claim

Nashville insurance insight: making a home insurance claim

Insurance is an odd purchase, really, in that you put a good amount of time and thought into buying a quality product, in the hopes that you’ll never, ever have to touch it.

Unfortunately, a time may come that you’ll have to make an insurance claim. My aim, if you’re one of my Nashville clients, is to make that process as clear and easy as possible — I’ll help and work with you every step of the way.

Still, it’s good to have an understanding of how the process works, just in case you ever have to jump into it, while dealing with a stressful situation.

Every type of policy has its own processes and details — small business insurance, life insurance, special event insurance. But for the sake of simplicity, here, let’s focus on one of the most common policies: home insurance. (I’ll tackle car insurance soon too.)

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Nashville insurance insight: Do I need small business insurance if I work from home?

Nashville insurance insight: Do I need small business insurance if I work from home?

In a creative, entrepreneurship-friendly city like Nashville, naturally, we have a lot of self-employed/work-from-home professionals. According to a recent study, it adds up to almost a quarter of us.

That’s a pretty significant number — and when you zoom out to the whole country, it makes that much more sense: More than half of all U.S. businesses are based out of the business owner’s home, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Another impressive factoid: The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says 15 million people, or just over 10 percent of total U.S. employment, are self-employed.

So, here we all are, doing it for ourselves. Which leads to a question I get asked a lot, as an independent Nashville insurance agent: “Since I work from home, do I need small business insurance?”

The short answer: It depends, but probably. But let’s break down the longer answer.

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Nashville insurance insight: insuring old homes vs. new homes

Nashville insurance insight: insuring old homes vs. new homes

Funny thing happened with some insurance clients in Nashville recently: I stunned them with a home insurance quote that was less than half what they’d been paying.

Those clients came to me after selling their historic East Nashville home, and buying a new one in the area that cost almost twice as much. Their expectation, after years of homeownership but a relatively lax relationship with home insurance shopping, was to see their rate double too. Or at least shoot up significantly — certainly not drop.

I’d love to say I was working some kind of insurance-agent magic, but ultimately, what their savings boiled down to had little to do with the sales price of their home or my miraculous insurance touch, more to do with its age.

The headline, here: Insuring a new home is usually a lot less expensive than insuring an old one.

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Nashville insurance insight: Easy ways to keep a home inventory

Nashville insurance insight: Easy ways to keep a home inventory

A very important and oft-overlooked way to make your life easier, in the event of an insurance claim in Nashville: creating and maintaining a home inventory.

Whether you have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, an inventory ensures that a) you know what you have, and what you might be missing, b) you’ve documented pertinent details that could help law enforcement find your stuff and c) your insurers can access that same detailed info in the event of a claim. That tends to make a claim move faster, and more accurately.

Secondary benefit, too: With thorough documentation of all your belongings and valuables, you’ll be able to make sure you’re not under-insured. (Always more likely if you have particularly valuable stuff — anything from antiques to jewelry to high-tech tools.)

Think of it this way: If you’re home (or when you get home), look around your living room at all your electronics, your guitars and computers and stereo equipment. If it all disappeared in a flash, would you remember the brands, the models, the serial numbers off the top of your head? How confident are you that you wouldn’t miss anything if you had to write out a comprehensive list of all your belongings, while under emotional strain?

It’s a tedious exercise to document a whole house worth of stuff, but I strongly encourage it, not just as an independent insurance agent, but as a Nashville neighbor..

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10 small businesses in Nashville that show the strength of our entrepreneurial ecosystem

10 small businesses in Nashville that show the strength of our entrepreneurial ecosystem

One of my favorite things about living in Nashville: As a community, we tend to celebrate and support our own. So small businesses in Nashville get a lot of sustained, local love.

That probably helped encourage this: “Nashville's small-business owners lead nation in optimism.”

If you’re about to launch a business and you’re not sure where to land, you could certainly do worse than Middle Tennessee, with a supportive community, still relatively reasonable cost of living, vibrant creative culture and abundant natural beauty.

If you’re already in Nashville and you’re getting ready to take the entrepreneurial plunge: First, my respect and celebration; second, please let me know if you need help sorting out small business insurance. Aside of being a customer, helping entrepreneurs find thorough and affordable insurance policies is, I hope, part of my positive contribution to the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Nashville.

About that ecosystem: Some of my favorite brands from every corner of the material world — food to shoes to beard-care stuff — come from here in our city. Below, just a few. Many will be familiar to longtime Nashvillians; all are making fantastic products, and making big waves in and out of Music City.

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Nashville insurance insight: 10 renters insurance horror stories from around the world

Nashville insurance insight: 10 renters insurance horror stories from around the world

The old “show, don’t tell” adage has broad applications. As an independent Nashville insurance agent, I can tell you about the benefits of renters insurance all the live long day — that it’s affordable, and easy to get, and covers a wide array of really awful and inconvenient things.

Much as I’d like to think my encouragement holds serious weight, though, I get that real stories from human beings who’ve felt its benefits — or struggled without it — probably hit a lot harder.

To give you a clear and fully rendered picture of why I think renters insurance is massively important for every renter in Nashville, I gathered stories from all across the country. Some have happy endings, some not so much. All are from renters who’ve dealt with catastrophes that renters insurance can help you bounce back from.

If nothing else, I think this’ll give you a deeper understanding of how broad renters insurance coverage can be.

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Nashville insurance insight: fast facts about water damage

Nashville insurance insight: fast facts about water damage

I try to pay a lot of attention to what the average Nashville homeowner and renter doesn’t know about their home, or their insurance coverage. If I grasp that, I can help share information, and get my clients better prepared, and protected.

So the new Homeowners’ Water Risk Survey from Chubb caught my eye. If you’re a Nashville homeowner, I’d point toward its findings for two main reasons:

It underlined a dramatic rise in water damage for homeowners, and a dramatic lack of education and preventative measures.

Since I know digging into a detailed insurance study can be a little tedious, here are a few fast facts that stuck with me:

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Nashville insurance insight: insuring an event or festival

Nashville insurance insight: insuring an event or festival

What with Nashville being one of our nation’s finest entertainment hubs, you can just about find a dozen events or festivals all across town, every weekend, all year. Local organizers and entrepreneurs cover it all, from live music to craft beer to crafts, from free weekly celebrations to ticketed annual confabs.

One thing they all have in common: the significant amount of risk that comes with planning an event.

Organizing an event or festival generally requires a pretty good investment, from venue deposits to marketing materials. To make good on that investment — and to make a profit — you depend on everything going off at least mostly without a hitch, come the day/weekend of the event.  

It’s impossible to predict and avoid all the things that can derail an event, unfortunately. Something as big as an act of nature or as small as a disorganized vendor can knock things off course, and put your profit in peril. Which is why we have insurance.

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Nashville insurance insight: What you should know about flood insurance

Nashville insurance insight: What you should know about flood insurance

The main thing on my mind this week, as south Texas is struggling in the wake of Hurricane Harvey: researching ways I can help from here in Nashville, like contributing to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s Harvey relief efforts and to All Hands Volunteers, who are putting helping hands on the ground as we speak.

Given what I do for a living, I also can’t help but think about how many Houston homeowners will be struggling not only with having their lives turned upside-down, but with the added financial difficulties that come with not having flood insurance in place.

 

Must-know flood insurance facts

 

Many of our neighbors were unfortunately surprised by this fact during the 2010 flood in Nashville: Standard homeowners insurance and renters insurance policies don’t cover flood damage.

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