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Lokvani Talks To Niru Bhatia

Nirmala Garimella
05/14/2008

Platinum Insurance Agency opens a second branch in Burlington. We talked to Niru Bhatia on its opening and about the latest insurance changes in MA.

Tell us more about the new branch in Burlington

Platinum insurance agency is opening a new branch in Burlington, ma.  This branch is going to be mainly a servicing branch for our customers offering them office hours 7 days a week.  This new office is going to be located at 120 Cambridge St., Unit #3 – right next door to Spice Land and in the same plaza as Halal Meat Shop and Smitha’s Boutique.   We are planning on having grand opening celebrations for the entire month of May.  We want people to stop by, we have balloons for the children, coffee/pastries, and lots of raffles to win gift cards to the major Indian Stores in the Plaza.  We invite everyone to stop by and pay us a visit.

What is your advice for customers looking for Auto Insurance?

 A recent article in Boston’s Sunday Globe advised auto insurance consumers to ‘shop til they drop’ once the new auto insurance system made its debut this past April 1st.  If you are like most people and have value for your time, you did nothing.  For the few that did shop their current policy from company to company probably came out pretty disappointed to learn one of two things:

Their current carrier/insurance company was offering the lowest premium (this is due to the fact that most companies are offering heavy loyalty discounts to existing customer who have been with their company for several years)

The savings was minimal and not worth the time and effort to complete new applications and submit hefty down payments.

It was widely publicized that premiums will drop on average 7.8% come April 1st.  Consumers need to keep in mind that each and every situation is different.  This average drop takes many factors into consideration such as the town of garaging, drivers, years of driving experience, SDIP, youthful drivers listed on the policy, etc.  Simply taking out last years policy and multiplying it by 7.8% is not going to give you the big savings number.

At Platinum Insurance what do you suggest to your customers ?

My suggestion to all consumers, pick up the phone and talk to your trusted local insurance agent.  This is the most valuable phone call you can make before you start dialing every other agency in town trying to save a few dollars.  The most important thing to keep in mind is that your link – you key between you and that large insurance company is your agent.  The agent that you have known for years, the one who knows you and the one that you TRUST.  The agent is the key to your service at the company level.  If you do not feel that you have a close relationship with your agent, find a new one NOW.  You work very hard for your assetts, you need someone whom you trust to insure them correctly.  You don’t want to call some 1800 number to be connected to the next customer service representative who will take your call and very robotically file your claim or answer your questions.  You need to know your agent and your agent needs to know you.

Your concern should not be about finding an insurance company that fits your needs but rather and agent who understands your needs.  Most of the time, an agency represents several insurance companies.  Based on an individual needs, your agent can customize your coverages and help you pick the best company to suit your situation.

How do the new reforms affect our premiums ?

With the new reforms in auto insurance, there are now many factors that can affect your premium, for example:

Bundle your policies – insure your home and auto with the same company

Multi-Car discount

Group Discount – such a AAA Discount

Low Mileage

Student Driver Away at school discount

Good Student Discount

Public Transit Discount

Driver Training Program Discount


What can I do if I can't find coverage suitable for me?

Everyone can find coverage suitable for their situation.  Again, the key is to work with an independent insurance agent.  You need to explain your needs/requirements/situation to your agent.  You may need to insurance an antique auto, a very high priced auto, a high valued home, high valued jewelry – whatever your needs are, coverage is afforded somewhere and a good agent will scout out the right company for you.

How do I insure my teenage driver?

YOU DON’T INSURE THEM - DON’T LET THEM DRIVE.  Those are usually the first words out of my mouth when a clients asks this question.  After we both share a laugh, I go on to explain that it is very critical to insure all drivers of a household properly.  When a teenager obtains a license, you have 30 days to inform your insurance agent to add them to your current policy.   Most agencies will simply add your teenager to your policy and you will see a SUBSTANTIAL increase in your premium.  The law states that the most expensive driver listed on an auto policy (the newly licensed teenager) must be charged to the most expensive automobile (usually parents Lexus/Mercedes/etc. – which teenager rarely gets to drive).  Again, I can not stress the importance of communication between you and your agent.  There are legal ways to charge youthful drivers by assigning them correctly to the auto they actually drive, hence not incurring such large incrreases in premium.  It is very important to carry high liability limits on all cars, especially the cars driven by our teenagers.  The reason for this being that most people will carry the state required minimum limits of $20,000/$40,000 ($20k/per person & $40k/peraccident) – because this is the least expensive.  What consumers need to keep in mind is that $20k per person does not go very far when you have an accident with someone and they are taken by ambulance to the nearest emergency room where they undergo a few tests and stay 1 day in the hospital.  This $20k limit gets used up very quickly.  Consumers fail to understand that once their underlying policy limits are exhausted, the injured party has the right to sue for your assets (your home, your boat, your business), once these things have been exhausted, the injured party has the right to sue for your future earnnings!  The difference between carrying the state required minimum limits and higher limits of $100k/$300k is usually less than $15/month.

Should I purchase an umbrella liability policy? What are the advantages?

EVERYONE should purchase an umbrella policy.  A personal umbrella policy covers your above and beyond the underlying limits of your home and auto insurance policies.

For example, let’s say you have a home policy with a liability limit of $500,000.  You have a pool in this home and someone jumps off the diving board heard first, hits the bottom and is now paralyzed for life.  They are going to sue you.  Lets say they sue you for $1.2M.  Your Home Owners policy is going to pay up to its limit of $500k, then your umbrella policy is going to kick in and pay the remaining balance of $700k to make the total $1.2M.

Another example, lets say you have a car accident with a young student who is in medical school.  He breaks and partially paralyzes his right arm.  He and his parents are going to sue you for the medical student – one day soon to be Dr’s future earrnings.  And, they are probably going to win.  If you are carrying limits of $250k/$500k on your auto policy, we all know that the court is going to award them a lot more than a mere $250k.  This is where your umbrella policy will kick in to pay the difference up to it’s limits as selected by you.

A personal umbrella policy is one of the best investments you can make and the cost for a $1M umbrella is usually around $175-$225 per year.





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