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Understanding Your Insurance Protection: Whose Job Is It?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Not knowing the right questions to ask about your insurance protection is among the key reasons far too many consumers hear the dreaded words “you’re not covered” at the worse possible time — after a personal property or liability insurance loss.

Not knowing what we don’t know is a dangerous and common cognitive bias that contributes to many poor decisions. Discerning between the knowns, unknowns, and known unknowns can be confusing, as memorialized in this explanation by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.


Following are just a few examples of the questions many consumers know to ask about their insurance protection:

  1. Can you lower my premiums?
  2. How much liability insurance do I really need?
  3. Am I “fully covered”?
  4. What is my deductible?

Questions like these are all valid and worthy of answers. Meanwhile, relying on prior experience, advertising campaigns or glib “how to buy” articles in the media prevents consumers from getting far more important answers to the many questions they don’t know to ask.


Consumers who want their insurance program to protect their assets from a wide range of threats need clear answers to many more questions than they know to ask. These questions are the “unknowns”. For example, consumers should press for clear answers to these questions:

  1. In addition to the risks I am covered for, what are the risks I am not currently insured for?
  2. Are there any coverage gaps, policy exclusions or forms of coverage that have not been not offered that are exposing my assets to uncovered property or liability losses?
  3. How does the claims settlement process differ among insurance carriers?
  4. Are there effective strategies to control the cost of coverage without requiring me to sacrifice important protection?
  5. What services are available to help prevent or reduce the risk of loss?
  6. What can I do now to ensure the best outcome in the event of a large property or liability loss?


Although there are MANY more questions to accompany those shown above, I believe there is one question ALL consumers should first examine:

Who is responsible to know the right questions? I need answered to help me reduce the risk of experiencing an uncovered loss?  

Independent insurance firms who serve their clients as personal risk advisors know the unknowns and can provide insightful answers to the many important questions few consumers know to ask. Consumers need the assistance of an independent agent who functions as a de-facto risk-coach, and not simply an insurance company promoting a “better deal” on an insurance policy.

Where to find one?

To learn whether you are working with an insurance brokerage who is truly focused on helping you make well-informed decisions to properly manage your risks, here’s a good question to ask that person:

“Are there other questions I have not asked that can help you better assess my exposure to uncovered losses?” 

The answer you receive to this question can help you determine if the person whose job it is to help you understand and manage your risks is even focused on meeting that objective.  I am happy to be a resource for any who wish to speak with an independent insurance agent who provides their client’s answers to the important questions they don’t know to ask.

Ken Sidlowski is a Senior Risk Consultant and Practice Leader with The Horton Private Client Group.  The Horton Private Client Group is a full-service risk management and insurance practice that specializes in high net worth and mass affluence personal insurance.  What makes us different?  We lead with advice and consultation.  Our trusted advisors are salaried professionals (not commissioned agents) who provide unbiased guidance to advise our clients in all aspects of their personal risk management portfolio.   We have the capability to place coverage nationally and internationally through carriers such as Chubb, AIG Private Client, PURE, Nationwide Private Client, and The Cincinnati Insurance Company, and much more.  Contact Ken at (312) 989-1416 or  

Material posted on this website is for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal opinion or medical advice. Contact your legal representative or medical professional for information specific to your legal or medical needs.