Q: "What information do I need to provide to get an insurance quote?"
A: In most cases — for instance, when you request a quote for auto, renters or homeowners insurance — your agent will ask for fairly basic information you probably already have on hand. If you're purchasing life insurance, though, you may need to provide more extensive information, says Andrew Milian, an Allstate agency owner in Kingston, Massachusetts.
Here's some of the information you can expect to share when you talk to an agent:
"The easiest way to answer common agent questions for an auto insurance quote is to have the declarations page from your current insurance in front of you, if you already have car insurance," Milian says.
That page will likely include the make, model and vehicle information number (VIN) for each car you need to insure; the names of the drivers covered by the policy; and a synopsis of insurance limits you've carried in the past.
Milian says your agent will likely also ask for the following:
- Personal information. This may include the dates of birth, Social Security numbers and driver's license numbers for each family member who will be on the policy.
- Driving history. This is an overview of any past tickets or auto accidents incurred by family members you want to cover on the policy.
- More background. You agent may ask whether you rent or own your home, and a bit about your assets and income. This information can be helpful as you choose your liability coverage limits, notes Milian.
This is typically a fairly short conversation with an agent, Milian says. You'll need to provide your name, Social Security number, address of rental and number of rooms or square footage.
Your agent will also ask questions about your belongings, says Milian. "I have software that does a great job of estimating the value of personal items. However, I might ask for a few more details," he says. "For instance, do you own designer-label clothing or just basics? Do you own the latest, high-end new TV? Those facts can help you determine the personal property coverage limits that are appropriate for your situation.
As with other insurance, an agent will ask for identifying information for you and the property address, says Milian. In addition, your desired coverage limits will be a factor when it comes to determining how much you'll pay for a policy. Other important topics may include:
- Renovations and repairs. Have you or the current homeowner recently replaced the roof or done major renovations? If the home is new to you, your agent may be able to get some of this information by pulling local building permits, Milian says.
- Current condition and amenities. How old is your water heater? When did you last do any major work on your plumbing? Do you have a fireplace? Custom master bathroom? According to Milian, these details help determine the home's current condition and how much it may cost to repair or rebuild it in the event that it's damaged by a covered peril.
"This will likely be the most robust insurance discussion you'll have with an agent," says Milian. Your agent will ask fairly personal questions, too, so plan to talk privately (not in your work cubicle where coworkers can overhear).
Along with basic identifying information, Milian says your agent may ask about:
- Health history. Do you have any chronic conditions? Have you had major surgeries or accidents in the past five to 10 years? The insurance company's underwriting department may also ask you to authorize a release of your medical records.
- Current health. Before you get a final insurance quote, Milian says you may be asked to undergo a medical exam — to include blood, urine and possibly cardiovascular testing.
- Insurance goals. Your agent will ask about the purpose of the insurance. Would it be used to pay off your mortgage in the event that you pass away? Replace your income until your spouse can collect Social Security? Help pay for a child's college education? You'll want to consider what you want the coverage to be used for when determining the type and the value of the policy that's right for you, notes Milian.
- Income and assets. This financial information is used, along with your insurance goals, to help you determine your ideal amount of coverage and length of the policy's term.
It may seem like your agent is asking for a lot of information just to give you an insurance quote, but it's for your benefit, says Milian. "The more we know up front, the more accurate our premium estimate will be," he says. "Plus, our job is to help you choose the policy that best fits your needs. We need a certain amount of personal information in order to do that."