What To Consider When Choosing An Insurance Company

Financial Strength

TIAA is one of only three insurance groups in the United States to hold the highest ratings currently awarded from all four leading independent insurance industry ratings agencies.* You can check on an insurer's financial strength by checking their ratings from major rating agencies:

Cost

For some types of insurance, the price (premium) varies greatly, so it pays to get price quotes from various companies or agents. When comparing prices, be careful to match coverage as closely as possible, and check for features that might prove costly in years to come.

For example, some life insurance policies are guaranteed renewable for the policy term, while others may require that you pass a medical exam in the future to maintain low rates. Also, for products that don't have a guaranteed premium (like long-term care and some forms of disability insurance), you should be wary if the company has increased prices to existing customers while introducing new products at lower prices.  Your state insurance department may also have useful information.

Service

Whether you need to file a claim or process a change in your policy, you'll want your inquiries handled quickly, courteously and professionally. For some types of insurance, your state insurance department may provide information on the relative number of complaints received about a company. Asking friends and co-workers about their satisfaction with their insurers can also be helpful.

You'll also want to make sure that it is easy and convenient to contact the company. Are their telephone hours convenient for you? Do they provide enough online information and transactional capabilities?

As a general rule, it's a good idea to review your coverage and your needs annually.

* For its stability, claims-paying ability and overall financial strength, TIAA currently holds the following ratings: A.M. Best (A++ as of 2/11), Fitch (AAA as of 6/11), Moody's Investors Service (Aaa as of 6/11) and Standard & Poor's (AA+ as of 8/11). Per S&P criteria, the downgrade of US long-term government debt limits the highest rating of U.S. insurers to AA+ (the second highest rating available).There is no guarantee that current ratings will be maintained. Ratings represent a company’s ability to meet policyholders’ obligations and claims and do not apply to variable annuities, mutual funds or any other product or service not fully backed by TIAA's claims-paying ability.

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© 2014 and prior years, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), New York, NY 10017