Both the stock market and the job market have been running strong in the past few years, but many people have memories of challenging times in the past decade. Even in strong years, Americans who want to protect their families and their futures can plan ahead by managing their budgets carefully, stockpiling emergency funds for those unplanned crises that occur in everyone’s lives, and maintaining insurance suitable to their individual situations.
That last area has long been the province of the Christopher Togawa Insurance Agency, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2018. “In many cases, a detailed review results in saving money, while identifying key risk tolerance levels,” said agency owner Christopher Togawa.
Togawa’s colleague Erwin Eykel agrees, saying that the expansion of the use of loss-data and credit information has helped refine insurance prices. “In plain-speak, people who have better credit and fewer losses receive better insurance rates,” Eykel said. “The ability of the insurance companies to mine this data efficiently has led to rate changes being made more quickly and deliberately.”
Togawa also reports that the Puget Sound area’s changing growth patterns have influenced insurance coverage. “With the immense growth in King County these last few years, statistical risk has increased quite a bit and rates are climbing rather fast because of it,” he said. “The increased traffic has a lot to do with frequency of auto accidents and glass related claims.”
Other considerations relate to whether emergency funds are available in case the worst happens. “Often times people strip their coverage when their car gets old, yet we always recommended that they keep comprehensive, for fire, vandalism, theft, and glass coverage,” Togawa said. “We’ve had a number of clients have their car stolen and thankfully comprehensive coverage was there to support them.”
Eykel also recalls other instances in which insurance aided individuals who were unprepared to fully pay for the cost of emergencies they encountered. “We’ve had three clients in the past year who have suffered major house fires,” he said. “These are catastrophic from the human perspective.”
Even smaller emergencies can be traumatic and challenging from a financial perspective. “There are numerous other losses in the past, which include dog-bite liability claims,” Eykel said. “Most clients who experience losses are very grateful that they had proper coverage.”
Beyond basic coverage for various types of situations, Togawa works to provide a crucial element of financial service: education. “It’s very common that people don’t understand what is and isn’t covered on the variety of coverage types we offer,” he said. “Having an agency like ours who advocates for a higher level of understanding of what coverage does sets us apart from the typical online or 800-number experience.”
Eykel concurs that information and sensitivity are key to assisting clients in securing the best and most cost-effective protection for their families and assets. “We advocate having higher limits of liability to better protect assets while having higher deductibles to be more intentional about what types of claims are being filed,” he said. “The most common auto claims are glass and towing claims. These claims can do all sorts of damage to a client’s rate moving forward.”
Taking the time to explain the trade-offs within the vast array of insurance options has been crucial to providing well-rounded insurance service. “In many cases we have prospects who have lower liability limits and lower deductibles with their current carriers,” Eykel said. “Moving them off the lower deductibles and into higher liability limits takes patience and time.”
And Togawa believes that this extra effort is worth the service to the agency’s clients. “I believe that some companies perform at a higher level than others,” he said, “and that’s very important to me.”