Insurance Brokers & Agents

Parent Q&A

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  • Farmer's Insurance agent rec.

    (1 reply)


    I had a great Farmer's auto insurance agent where I used to live who has now retired and my account was transferred to a group I don't know. I am looking for a local Farmer's agent (Albany or Berkeley, ideally) that takes care of their clients and is not just trying to sell policies for the  sake of it.

    I appreciate any recommendations. Thank you.

    She's in Oakland, but Ruth Stroup did us a solid as our Farmers agent for many years. I like that she's engaged in the community, too.

  • Self-employed consultant insurance?

    (1 reply)

    Hello, I will be starting my first consulting gig. My client is a former employer who requires I carry insurance (general liability, E&O, etc.). This is new ground.

    I will be a sole proprietor business, and my consulting services include leading meetings, synthesizing information, general strategy work, some admin. All work is done remotely, no physical space, no other employees. Any guidance or insights from fellow self-employed consultants on insurers, rates, etc. would be appreciated! I feel like I don't know what I don't know.

    Thank you BPN! 

    This answer will vary by type of consulting, but let's say that you (like me) are a type of consultant in a profession that doesn't require licensing - not an architect, engineer, MD, Nothing that would physically injure people if your work fails! You probably want to push back against the E&O requirement; it could well be in their template, but would be superfluous. CGL is very common and you should consider having it anyway. You can get a quote for your business insurance from whoever provides your homeowners, and do not enter into final negotiations on your rate until you have that number since typically you can't bill it out.

  • Hello, I am looking for an independent insurance agent - someone who can help us navigate homeowners, life and earthquake insurance. Potentially an umbrella policy as well. We'd like to go with someone independent who works with multiple companies. Thanks in advance for advice.

    I would highly recommend Michelle Pappe 650-286-2140. She will give you personal, customized advice and work hard to find a policy that meets your need at a competitive price.  I really wish I had found her agency years ago... before I had so many different policies in different places.  This is the best customer service I've ever had in the realm of finding insurance (in my case, homeowners and landowner insurance).  I have no affiliation/connection with Michelle.... i think I found her agency through yelp or BPN. 

    Mike Clauson is one of the savviest insurance brokers I know. He handles the business liability insurance for my company, but he's thoroughly knowledgeable about home owners, auto, and life insurance, etc.

    His phone is 510.839.3276, or email mclauson [at]

  • Local Insurance Brokers

    (1 reply)

    Hi! I'm looking for a local insurance broker who would talk to me like a human being :) I'm looking to bundle several different kinds of insurance. I see an old question on BPN about this but was wondering about updated recommendations. Thanks!

    I have used Roger Larson from Larson Family Insurance Brokers in Walnut Creek. I could not be happier after misery and incompetence with Statefarm in Berkeley.

    Roger's team have helped with claims, clarified policies, got me a way better deal for my auto insurance with my teen driver, and are generally just nice people who respond to messages quickly and will get to know you.  

  • Insurance broker recommendations?

    (3 replies)

    Any recommendations for a local (ish) insurance broker who can help us evaluate our current insurance and future options (car, home, life, earthquake, etc)?


    Yes, I can personally recommend Celilia West at ISU Insurance Services. My wife and I have all our various insurance coverage through her and she does an outstanding job of taking care of our needs. She is friendly, very knowledgeable and service oriented. In addition, she is as good listener and will act on behalf of clients to make sure they have the right type of insurance at the best possible price. Her number is: 415-623-5172.

    My broker, Michelle is awesome! She's knowledgeable, honest and hands-on.

    The Michelle Pappe Allstate Agency (650) 286-2140.

    We really like Ross Parmenter, he is in San Rafael. he has been great toy work with and follows up with us on everything.   rparmenter [at]

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Looking for Insurance Agent to Consolidate

Feb 2013

Hi all - Archives are about a year old, so thought I'd check again for recommendations for an insurance agent or broker (what's the difference?) who can help our family consolidate car, home, umbrella, and possibly life insurance (for a person with a chronic condition). Someone who will take time to explain things and not try to unnecessarily upsell would be great; also hoping for someone who's not planning to retire in the near future! Thank you! Insurance Masala

You should consult Alex. He specializes in helping young families in the East Bay apply for life insurance. He works with NY Life and has helped a lot of people. NY Life is by far the best life insurance company in the world. Alex would be happy to explain why that is. Not only is Alex really good at assessing your short term needs and long-term goals, but he REALLY cares about people. (He gave us some very fitting Christmas gifts.) Alex and his team are also currently helping me with my business finances. Alex Huynh ahuynh [at] Cell: 510-508-0127 Randy

There are many insurance agents and brokers in the Bay Area to choose from, but I highly recommend two the most, Cynthia Blumgart and Bruce Roberts.

First of all, Cynthia Blumgart, CASL, CLU, ChFC, a State Farm agency which serves clients all over California. A licensed team helps insurance clients review and set up the best insurance plan for them and their loved ones. They are pros, guiding you in managing the risks of everyday life, recovering from the unexpected and realizing your needs. Cynthia and staff offer over 175 insurance and financial products and services - auto, life,renters, health, disability, life, longterm care, retirement plans, bank products, business insurance, and malpractice insurance. You will appreciate the fast, efficient and knowledgable service provided by Cynthia Blumgart's office. Service can be provided in person, by phone, or over the internet. Address: 1950 Addison Street Suite 105, Berkeley, CA 94704, Phone: (510) 848-2132

If you don't want to use State Farm, I highly recommend Bruce Roberts at Freeman Insurance Services in Albany. Freeman Insurance services has brokers, like Bruce, who are not required to work only with one company (like the State Farm model). Freeman Insurance has more than 30 years experience with all types of insurance coverage and they could help you very competently and personally as well. Address: 1035 San Pablo Ave, Albany, CA 94706 Phone:(510) 528-2700 Jay

Insurance broker or agent recommendations needed

March 2012

Our current insurance broker is slow to return calls (takes several days), and he isn't particularly thorough in finding out what sorts of coverage we really need. We've discovered, the expensive way, that we're sometimes carrying too much of one type or too little of another. We'd appreciate recommendations of thoughtful, thorough, honest insurance brokers or agents, especially as we now need to add our 18-year-old son to our car insurance. eastbay parent

I have been with John DeLeuze a State Farm agent in Lafayette for over 30 years and he is awesome! He has gone to bat for us many times, always returns calls promptly, has his home and cell number on his card, and is extremely knowledgeable. If he thinks you would be better served elsewhere he will tell you that. He insisted our 16 y/o come in to his office for a driving pep talk and driving knowledge test before adding them to the policy. I asked why and he said he had been to too many funerals of young people and never wanted to go again so he devised the extra program. He also advised how to set up the minor on our lowest cost vehicle to get a reasonable premium which saved a lot of money. State farm isn't the cheapest but having an agent like John is worth the extra. Over the years he has saved us a lot of money and we have the backing of a company with large reserves if needed. 925-284-9580 happy policyholder

I've had Farmers for quite a while and am very happy with them. Mike Reidenbach is an insurance specialist with Farmers and he's a great listener, thoughtful and considerate regarding your needs, makes excellent recommendations and is very reliable. His cell is 415 509 2494 and office is 510 849 4909. jmreidenbach [at] Sydney

I've been using Scott Halbrook from Farmers for several years for both home and business. Either he or his assistant return calls within the same day. I frequently need insurance certificates for my clients, and he gets them faxed right away. He knows the business well and his rates are competitive. Here is his info stu

Mike Clausen returns phone calls, will help you clean up your current policies and won't over-sell you. Really. 510 839-3276 signed, Happy and Impressed!

Need a new insurance agent

Sept 2011

We have been with the same Allstate agent for over a decade for multiple policies and he is now closing his office (and is out of the area) so we are now looking for a local agent (Oakland/Montclair) - any recommendations would be appreciated, or general advice - do people actually work directly with agents anymore? We are open to switching providers but would like to work with someone who can actually help us make smart choices about coverage, consolidation, limits, etc. Thank you!

I'd recommend Kerry Walker as your new insurance agent. She's been very friendly and helpful in finding the best value for my insurance money. Here's her contact info: Kerry A. Walker MAHONEYWALKERINSURANCE.COM (415) 297-4762 1138 Ballena Blvd, Suite E Alameda CA 94501

Michael Clauson, a Farmers Insurance Agent, is undeniably the best insurance agent in town. He is smart, honest and full of integrity. He will help you assess your insurance needs--auto, home, life, commercial--and help you get the best coverage while getting you the best deal possible. In addition to having an agent that is on your side, he will delight you with his great personality. Mike Clauson can be reached at 510-839-3276. His email is mclauson [at] Shoey

AAA Homeowners/car insurance Agent

March 2011

Hi, I am looking to change my car/homeowners insurance from State Farm to AAA. I have heard positive reviews about AAA. Can someone recommend a good AAA agent in the Berkeley area? Also, any feedback on experience/cost/coverage with AAA would be very helpful. Thank you!!

I have used David Collins from AAA for years and he's been great for homeowner insurance and car, david.colins [at], 415-682-3400. I don't feel like he tries to scare me into buying insurance which I don't need, which I really appreciate, but is well informed and easy to work with. anon

Hello, I highly recommend our agent at AAA, Cyndi Moritz Atkins. We've been working with her now for over 6 years. Cyndi will work with you to get the best possible price & quote. She is not pushy at all and is well informed. We have auto, home and liability insurance through AAA and Cyndi worked with us to explain the coverage details and what we really needed. Give her a call T: 925-808-6238 or e-mail: Cyndi_Moritz-Atkinson [at] AAA customer

Need A New Insurance Agent

Sept 2010

HI, I need an insurance agent that can deal with switching over my existing policies (Blue Shield and Travelers). Any recommendations? Thanks!

I recommend Mike Clauson for insurance. He is a Farmers Agent who has integrity and willingness and skill to make sure you're well covered at the lowest price. His number is 415-560-1948 and his email is: mclauson [at] Shoey

Try Patrick Burns at He's very knowledgeable, easy to talk to, and a wonderful person. He helped me with all of my health insurance needs. His phone number: 510-652-7609 Rosie

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

Want to combine life, auto and home insurance into one policy

June 2009

I have searched the archives but haven't found any updated information on insurance brokers. We are looking to put our life, auto and home insurance into one policy. We currently have state farm, esurance and my husband's life insurance from work. State Farm and Esurance have unusually high rates in certain areas. If anyone has a company or an insurance broker they would highly recommend, please let me know. Thanks for your time. Trying to save some $$

Greg Guardiano at D|A Financial Group in Lafayette brokers a lot of different insurance companies so he can probably find you the best deals for life insurance. His number is 925-254-7100. Adam

I am thrilled about our new relationship with Tom Madden at Farmer's Insurance. The first time we had him review our policy, he told us to stay where we were. A year later, we tried again and he gave us better coverage for less money. Plus, he's the best agent I've ever run into. Very easy to deal with and really knows his stuff. He can be reached at (925) 284-7105. Julie

June 2007

Hi there - I would like recommedations for a good Farmers insurance agent. We have a house now and we want to consolidate our insurance coverage. We'd like to work with a knowledgeable, thoughtful agent. Not sure if it matters but we live in Alameda. Thanks. EA

We live in Alameda and use Joe Mikels of Farmer's as our insurance agent. He was my hubsand's families' agent and we have used him since getting married (thus he's been with my extended family for a very long time). I've been very happy with his services; he is very responsive to my calls and tries to find the best policy fit for our needs. He also has quickly responded to getting things fixed and handling disputes, answering all questions, etc. His office is in Richmond but that hasn't been a problem as things are all done by phone. His number is 222-3200. Ariana

The only Farmer's agent I would ever use is Tom Madden in Lafayette. He's impossibly good at what he does, plus he and his wife treat their clients like family. If he can't save you money, he tells you. I've had many people use him and they are all grateful they met him. (925) 284-7105 Julie G

Mark Gaskins is a Farmers agent who serves the entire Bay Area. He is a very friendly and helpful agent. He is also not pushy, he is really interested in giving you what you need and want. He is very flexible and a family man. His phone number: 510-846-3777; his email: insuranceman4u [at] Hope this helps! Denise B

Michael Reidenbach is an agent for Farmers and is located in Alameda. He is both knowledgeable and caring and will work with you to make sure you get your needs met. You can reach him at 510 523 3677 or by cell-415 509 2494 Sydney M

I highly recommend Jim Cowen. I keep being pleasantly surprised by my experience with him - \xe8\xa6\x81ery different from my previous experiences with insurance agents. When we considering a risky home renovation project, Jim spent a great deal of time talking to me, offering me helpful and unbiased advice. Jim was very knowledgeable and patient. Another great thing-- our auto insurance forms said that we drove our car x number of miles per year. Without any prompting from us, Jim reviewed the records and determined that the number was probably too high. He pursued us despite a few unreturned messages on our part to verify our mileage and make sure we were not overpaying. The extra bonus is that he is very personable and remembers many more details about my family than I would expect. Basically, it\xef\xbe\x82\xe7\x97\xb4 been a pleasure doing business with him. Jim Cowen Insurance Brokers Farmers Insurance Tel 510-222-7890

i had to respond to a previous post about a Farmer's agent named Joe Mikels. My step-father had used Joe for more than a couple of decades. So when i graduated college and returned to the Bay Area 15 years ago i got my insurance through Joe. At that time he was one of Farmer's top 5 agents. Then Joe had a MAJOR accident and his business fell apart. My mother and step-father left Joe and told me they saved A LOT of money when they moved their insurance. We stuck around for a while and tolerated a number of little problems. one being i made the mistake about calling and asking about a bump in a parking lot where there was NO CLAIM and NO LOSS, and Joe's office reported it, and then completely failed to follow through and get it removed when i asked why i lost my preferred driver status and my rates went up 20%. I have repeatedly called his office over the years to correct mistakes on our policies, which he failed to do the majority of the time. i dealt with Farmer's directly to get the corrections made. years later i got into an auto accident. Joe returned my phone calls (it is required by law that agents log and return all phone calls), but he never answered my questions about the accident. I sent him an itemized letter of information i wanted. Joe called to awknowledge its receipt, but never answered my questions. i got sued by the other party. Joe never provided me with the name and number of the claims adjustor. Farmer's did handle the case just fine. Three years after the accident I moved our homeowners, auto and umbrella policies to Allstate and have saved over $3200 a year. All of the policies have arrived without a single error. Any answer my agent needs to research i have received within 24 hours. Happy Allstate agent: Jan Hannah Allstate Insurance 415-255-0224 At the very least, please choose a different Farmer's agent. Julia

May 2007

Insurance madness ... you gotta have it, but ... Our Allstate insurance agent we've been dealing with for years left, and his replacement is awful. Does anyone know of a helpful, easy to talk to insurance agent for home and auto? Do you know if we can just ask to have our current policy transferred to another Allstate agent? Thanks! desperately seeking insurance agent

My family has had very bad experiences with Allstate. My aunt was killed in a head-on collision (drunk driver going the wrong way on a freeway). Both cars were insured with Allstate. My aunt's policy was for $25,000. Allstate refused to pay. My uncle sued them. Just before it went to court Allstate offered to settle out of court for $5,000. My uncle refused. Part-way through the case Allstate offered to pay $10,000 for an out-of-court settlement. My uncle refused. Just before the judge was to give his verdict, Allstate offered $15,000. My uncle refused. The court awarded my uncle the entire $25,000. The only reason my uncle could spend so much time in court is he was on disability, didn't have a job. My cousin's house in Colorado was insured with Allstate. A forest fire destroyed nearly the whole town, including my cousin's house. Allstate refused to pay. My cousin sued and won. I've had good luck with State Farm. They've paid promptly, even when it was expensive (broken sewer line that had to be replaced--the county broke it but denied they did it so State Farm sued but lost the case). Happy with State Farm

Susan at Allstate is wonderful! In Rockridge Strahan Ins. Svs. Inc 450-9050 5940 College Ave #A Oakland, CA 94618 anon

For an easy to talk to insurance agent, call Gregg Brown at (510) 524-8812. What I like so much about Gregg, is he knows how to find great policies at the best price. But the best thing about him is, he'll help you anytime there's a problem and he'll help you take care of it, which is really an added benefit. Lynch.l

I highly recommend Tom Madden with Farmers Insurance. He and his wife are very easy to talk to (Tom used to be a teacher) and are fun to be with. They are also extremely good at reducing your costs while having coverage remain the same or better. Call them at (925) 284-7105. You will actually enjoy the experience! Julie G

Susan Bernosky is an Allstate agent in Rockridge. I have been very happy with her: she's responsive, congenial, and knowledgeable. A big improvement over our last agent! Carrie

I want to recommend Phuoc Khong of State Farm. His office is on Solano Avenue in Berkeley, and he is not only thoroughly knowledgeable, he is a really nice person to work with... I think of him as a really good friend. You can call Phuoc at 527-2000, or email phuoc.khong.ngov [at] David

We have Allstate homeowners insurance. Our agent, Tyler Johnson, is fantastic. He totally helped me out of jam on my late father's house. Long story, but the end result was that Tyler and his assistant were on top of everything and were very responsive. His dad was our agent with our first home, but he retired and Tyler took over his clients. We are in the third house we've insured through him. We have never been disappointed. His office is in Walnut Creek, and the number is 925-933-3100. Another advantage for you is that he is with your current company, so the transition might be pretty seamless. Tyler Fan

When I changed Allstate agents, I had to ask my old agent to ''release'' me, so that I could switch to the agent of my choice. My understanding is that your current agent is not obligated to release you, even at your request, so sometimes people end up being stuck with an agent they don't like, but my old agent released me with no hassle. I switched to Tyler Johnson in Walnut Creek, 925-933-3100, and have been very happy with him and his assistant Katie. I've used him through a move from Oakland to Berkeley, and was a little worried about his being located in another county, but it's never been a problem. They are always friendly and available by phone, and they work quickly and accurately. I've found them to be very helpful. Good luck! Daria

I highly recommend Les Adler; he is also an Allstate Insurance agent. When I moved to Berkeley in 1992 I picked a random Allstate guy on Solano Ave to insure our cars. But when we bought our house I wanted to make sure I had a good agent. I got Les Adler's name from my previous agent in a different state. He has won numerous awards and is one of the top 100 agents in the country. Although he is in Santa Clara it doesn't matter these days since everything can be done over the phone or online. After some bad experiences with our car agent I finally had our cars transferred to Les as well. I think I had to write a letter saying I wanted my policy changed over to him. Over the years his business has grown, but all of the people that work for him have been very friendly and helpful. His number is 408-764-0230. Hope it works out. nyejulie

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Need an insurance agent

Dec 2006

I have worked with someone for years and when I finally need him he's nowhere to be found.... I need an honest, professional, reliable person. Thanks! Zahava

After working with Jill we will never need another insurance person again (knock on wood)! Jill Cash (ph. 510-843-8300) is a State Farm agent with an office on Telegraph in Berkeley across from the Rose Garden Inn. We have been insured with her for several years and have been incredibly satisfied. We've collected on several claims, all of which went very smoothly. We have multiple policies with her: car, home, liability (for our business), disability and life. She is very knowlegeable about financial planning issues and can really help you identify how to protect yourself and plan for the future but is NEVER PUSHY. She met with us for hours at our home to talk the first time about our needs. Then she put together a proposal for different types of insurance which we reviewed and chose from. She even spent time helping us evaluate health insurance plans that weren't through State Farm. She believes in giving you information and encourages you to shop around until you're satisfied. I loved this attitude! We love Jill and hope you will give her a call. Please tell her you saw a recommendation from me on Berkeley Parents! Rachel M

I know a great insurance person... if you are looking for general auto, home, etc.,,,, his name is Gregg Brown, G F Brown Insurance Service LLC, gregg [at], (510) 524-8812. He is a really good guy, very sincere EM

Seeking good insurance broker for small business

June 2006

I want to consolidate my real estate insurance policies under one roof, or at least one agent. Home in Trestle Glen, a two unit (duplex and house) rental property in Rockridge and a fourplex in Oakland. I would want umbrella possibilities. I tend to prefer small but enterprising agents. T

i would recommend Denise Lombard dtlombard[at] She really knows insurance and can explain everything clearly stu s

Need to buy life and health insurance

May 2004


If you need health insurance, Denise Lombard is the woman who can set you up! She helps all types find health insurance solutions -- people between jobs, people currently on COBRA, self-employed people, and small business owners. Her services are free; she is paid by the insurance company. She works to understand how people use health insurance and then she searches all available plans for the best fit at the best price. She also has Medicare Supplement plans for adults over the age of 65 and long-term care insurance plans which cover the cost of living in a nursing home. Denise Lombard Insurance Services 4100 Redwood Road, # 250 Oakland, CA 94619 dtlombard [at] Phone: (510) 530 - 8086 Fax: (510) 531 - 1269
Christine C

2003 & Earlier

Looking for a broker for our entire insurance package

June 2003

Insurance Broker: Now that Amica is no longer paying the annual dividends we are looking for a good insurance broker to help us bid out our entire insurance package. Can anyone recommend a name and advice on using an insurance broker? Thanks. alison

For health, dental, vision, continuing care and life related insurance try either Myers Stevens at 415-543-4040 or Bob Luna at 707-745-1961. For Property and Cauaslty insurance try Gene Mello at 510-790- 1118 Juliette

My sister is my insurance broker and of course I'm biased and think she's great, but she's been in the business since she was fifteen (she's now in her forties -- it was my dad's before she inherited it) and she knows pretty much everything there is to know about insurance. She handles personal as well as commercial accounts, and can set up health insurance as well. Her name is Andrea Christensen, her company is called Allstar West and her number is (415) 883-5100 ext. 207. She's located in Novato, but these days a broker's location doesn't really matter, since we can do everything via computer.

As far as working with a broker -- each one has agreements with different companies, and companies set perameters about which brokers they will work with based on the size of the broker's ''book of business''. Unfortunately, a lot of companies don't want to do business with anyone in California anymore -- too many risks -- but there are still good companies out there.

A good broker is one who takes the time to explain to you what he/she is doing, recommends the type/amount of coverage you should have, returns your calls in a timely manner, and does her best to place your insurance with the best company for your needs, rather than the one that pays her the best commission. Just like a stock broker, real estate broker, etc.

I think Andrea would be happy to have a conversation with you just to answer your questions, even if you weren't sure you were going to use her as your broker. Janet

Hi, Our family insurance guy is Henry Lutzky, at (510)652-5200. We were able to get really affordable health coverage and a great life insurance package from him, and he's super reliable and very easy to talk to. Good luck! Nora

I would like to recommend our new insurance broker, Kai Langenberg. He is a Berkeley resident (he lives in our neighborhood, actually!), has a small child, and he and wife Xotchil recently started their insurance broker business. Their company is tri-lingual: German, English and Spanish.

I have known Kai and Xotchil for about 5 years. When I learned that they had become insurance brokers, I was overjoyed! Kai and Xotchil are very honest, very responsible, and have great business sense. I knew that I could trust them not to try to sell me insurance that I wouldn't need. My husband and I were not happy with our current insurance company and were looking forward to a change. As it turned out, we get a great deal for home and car insurance so he advised us not to change. However, he was able to secure pretty good rates for life insurance. We will soon be looking to him for financial advice (IRA's, 401 (k), etc.) and hopefully next year we can switch over to Farmer's for our home and car.

I had worked with another person from a different insurance company and that individual returned my calls a week late, did not spend enough time explaining insurance policies to me, and was pretty unprofessional (he ended up losing my policy somewhere and advised me to check with credit report agencies to make sure no one was using my SS number!). Needless to say, I was very happy to work with Kai, who was very prompt and professional, and friendly! Please give him a call:
Kai Langenberg, M.B.A. Insurance & Financial Services Specialist FARMERS INSURANCE GROUP Langenberg Insurance & Financial Services 1401 Derby Street Berkeley CA 94702 Bus: (510) 649-1322 Fax: (510) 217-6640 kai at License # 0D96872 Laurel

Feb 2003

I would like a recommendation for an insurance agent (preferably independent) to provide me a quote on a complete package of insurance for my family (home, auto, life, etc.). I did not see any recent recommendations on the web site. Thanks! Susan

Re: Insurance, I have 2 cars, 3 properties and an umbrella policy through one independent agency and I'll bet a buck he's the lowest price quote you get: Lance Brick, Brick Insurance Agency in Concord: 925 687-6262...good luck tim

Need a broker for a bunch of different kinds of insurance

Jan 2003

We need a bunch of insurance. Our building is insured for hazards, but we need homeowner's insurance for the contents. (We've recently inherited a bunch of stuff worth insuring.) Since we just had a child, we need two term life insurance policies (we're healthy and in our mid-30's, is it better to get 10 year policies and renew them? or a 20 or 30 year policy?). And since I'm now working freelance, I need some disability insurance.

I've heard that if you group your policies through a carrier, the rates can be lower, so I'd like to do that as much as possible (as well as for administrative ease). I have car insurance, but would be willing to move the policy if the pricing worked out.

Sadly, we don't qualify for USAA. Should I try Reliaquote or Selectquote? They don't seem to handle all of our needs, would it be worth it to do each policy separately through them? No one seems to offer disability...?


I don't know anything about insurance, but a former graduate student of mine, who is an excellent problem solver, and whose integrity I have no doubts about, recently went into insurance brokering. I'm sure she'd be happy to advise you. Her name is Paria Mahani, and you can reach her by e-mailing pmahaniATmillsDOTedu.

My husband and I bought term life insurance through Select Quote Insurance Services. They only use A++ (superior) to A (excellent) rated companies (you can do your own homework after they come back with a quote). We worked with Brian Van Valin out of the San Francisco office at 1-800-436-7000, Select Quote came back with a list of 3-4 term life insurance quotes that were significantly lower than what we were quoted from our insurance agent at State Farm (we were trying to keep things simple too). They say to take out enough term insurance to take care of your debt at the time of your death, unless you want to leave extra to your family. (So if your house will be paid off in 15 years, do you really need a policy past 15 years?) Rates are supposedly the lowest they have been in years, so take advantage of this if you think that you will continue to need life insurance in 20-30 years. Self-employed people can apply for and purchase elective coverage disability insurance through the state of CA and the EED. For more info see, Kathleen

I don't know the answers to your specific questions, but can highly recommend an agent who would be happy to answer your questions. His name is Harpreet ''Harry'' Chadha and he's a rep for New York Life. What I especially like about Harry is that he listens to your desires and makes recommendations based on what you want, not what will get him a higher commission. His phone number is 510-624-4140. R. Low

My wife brought this post to my attention. I don't want this to sound self-serving, but I may be able to at least act as a sounding board for what you are looking for, specifically for Life and Disability insurance. I work with Northwestern Mutual in SF and live in Oakland. It really is hard to say what kind or how much life insurance you would need without knowing more about your situation. Northwestern also offers comprehensive disability insurance. Lastly, it very important to check the credit ratings of the insurance company that you finally select to make sure they are sound financially. Hope this helps. My name is Tom Foley and I can be reached at (415)733-6730 or (510)652-1506. Tom Foley

It is not possible to bundle all types of insurance. Usually you get the best break for bundling home and auto and an umbrella policy. Life is usually separate. We have used RWM (Bob Moody) for life and liked him quite a bit. That said, our friends have had a rether negative experience with him, so it is hard to know what to say about that. He's in Orinda. I found him over the web. We like Christ, Elliott, and Machette for property insurance. Bill Linville is our agent. He's great. Good luck to you! Elisabeth

Jan 2000

My wife and I have home insurance through State Farm. Unfortunately our agent died a while ago and we haven't been assigned to a new agent. Does anyone have a State Farm agent in Berkeley that they are happy with? Michael and Phyllis

My family has been using Dave Shiller in downtown Berkeley for over 30 years. We are happy with their service and the office staff is nice and responsive. Samantha

We've been happy with Cynthia Blumgart, 510-848-2132. Her office is near the Andronico's on University, I think. Dawn

State Farm agent: I've been happy with Mark Canessa in Montclair. He was very helpful and fair after the Oakland fire. His office staff are always very helpful with info, and they return phone calls promptly. Linda


I can recommend Patricia Tscharner of Armstrong and Armstrong. A is a small, independent agency, and they were able to find us good auto rates. Located in Albany, their phone is 525-3902. Since Pat's a friend of mine, feel free to mention my name. Eric

From: Nicole (12/98)

Reply to the person requesting an insurance agent referral: We have been very happy with Larry Annis at Cook, Disharoon & Greathouse, based in Oakland. Tel is 510-437-1900. He works both in Oakland and Pleasanton. I co-own a duplex and he was the only agent, of several I called when renewing our policy, who was creative and experienced enough to arrange the specific combination of policies required by our unusual situation (one policy for the building and two more for each of our households). Subsequently, we switched some of our other insurance policies to him (e.g. car). I have never actually met him, but he is very responsible about returning calls and sending paperwork promptly. (I should mention that several months after our house was insured, apparently the carrier did an unannounced inspection, and Larry called to tell us some things that had to be corrected or the policy was in danger --!! Needless to say, we corrected them (fixing garage doors, etc.) by an agreed-upon date, and haven't heard back.)