Our guest today is Tom McFarland. Tom is an Office Manager at Allstate in the Scottsdale, AZ area and specializes in property and casualty insurance. If you are in need of home or auto insurance, give Tom a call! We’ve dropped his contact info below.
Thank you for being willing to contribute to our blog. First off, if you could, let our readers know a little bit of background on you. What got you into the insurance industry, how long have you been doing it, and what are some of your favorite aspects about what you do?
Tom: I grew up around Allstate from the day I was born. My dad worked for Allstate as an agent and manager for over 40 years so I was destined to follow that career path. I started with Allstate in February of 1998 and have never turned back. The best part of my job is building long lasting relationships with my clients and helping them protect the risks that they face when it comes to their assets.
2020 has been a crazy year for all of us, how has COVID affected your industry and your job specifically?
Tom: Fortunately, COVID has not impacted our ability to conduct business. I am proud to work for a company like Allstate. In early April, our CEO Tom Wilson was the first in the industry to announce a shelter-in-place payback to all auto policyholders in the US. We provided a partial refund of premiums during April, May and June. We also introduced a new auto insurance program called Milewise last year and has really helped our clients save money during this time.
Let’s say I get in an accident, what are the steps I need to take to be sure my insurance company will have what it needs for a claim?
Tom: That’s a great question. For starters, always make sure you have a current and up to date insurance card with you at all times. We provide paper copies but I always recommend the Allstate mobile app to stay up to date. In the event of a claim, it’s always best to notify law enforcement to get a police report filed. The Allstate app will also help guide you through the process at the scene and provide you with the necessary steps to take in order to be prepared and gather all important information about the accident and other parties involved. I also think it’s important to take photos as soon as you can of all vehicles to document damages. Today’s technology and smart phones makes this quite easy. Once you have gathered all info, call your agent or company to officially file the claim.
What if I get in a little fender bender, I don’t suspect the damage will even exceed my deductible and the other party wants to simply move on without a police report. Is this ever a good idea?
Tom: Working with the other party outside of insurance can be risky but sometimes may feel like it would make sense. However, there are major factors to consider. Are there injuries? Do stories or the facts of accident change? Any witnesses? Initial repair costs in many cases increase due to additional unforeseen damage discovered during repair. You will also owe the other party for substitute transportation. I think you get the point. Police reports are also a good idea in all circumstances. Bottomline: We always recommend filing a claim to make sure you are protected.
Obviously we are financial planners, and in our field we are trying to figure out how to ensure our clients manage risk by having adequate insurance coverage, while still avoiding “over-insuring” or paying for something you will never need. From your perspective, how do you find that balance?
Tom: Our agency takes the time to get to know our clients. This also means having detailed conversations about their assets. Based on the individual and their overall needs, we would then recommend certain levels of coverage and then add umbrella liability protection to provide more extensive coverage for their assets.
In your experience, what factors influence the cost of auto insurance the most, and what can we do to bring them down?
Tom: First and foremost, your driving record and insurance history is important when getting good pricing on auto insurance. Your insurance score (soft credit-based formula used by insurance carriers) can also be a major factor with rates. Therefore, keeping your driving record clean of tickets and accidents, avoid lapses in your insurance and keeping your credit in good shape will do wonders for qualifying for great rates. When it comes to saving money, take advantage of paying your premiums in full and utilizing other discounts available will also help. Lastly, higher deductibles can also cut down cost.
Allstate is always coming out with new programs and discounts and consumers needs are ever-changing as well. Our agency makes a point to personally reach out to offer comprehensive policy reviews regularly.
Is full coverage always necessary or do you find situations where you wouldn’t recommend full coverage?
Tom: Full coverage is definitely not always necessary. If your car is leased or purchased with a loan, you will be required to maintain collision and comprehensive by the bank. However, on older vehicles that are paid for and have depreciated to a level where the insured is willing to take on the risk of repair or replacement, it’s a great option to save money. Again, this option doesn’t work for everyone based on their insurance beliefs or financial position.
Thank you so much for your time, Tom! We really appreciate the valuable input.
If you are in the Greater Phoenix area and would like to reach out to Tom, his contact information is:
McFarland Agency – Tom McFarland 9907
E. Bell Rd #140
Scottsdale, AZ 85260