When it comes to protecting your financial assets like your home or auto, you can't trust just anyone with your investment. Finding a trustworthy and trained insurance agent/broker could mean the difference between having enough coverage for your property following a catastrophic loss and being stuck with a large repair bill. An insurance agent/broker is a specialist who works on behalf of clients to find the best policy or insurance provider for their needs.
Consider the overall fit, not just the price, as the price can be deceptive. Be careful of someone who sells on low cost, generally it means poor coverage. The same method you used to choose a doctor or dentist can be applied to choose an insurance broker. You want someone with a pleasant "bedside manner," as it were.
Understand The Differences In Agents
Direct Writers vs. Independent Agents: There are two ways to obtain insurance coverage from a company. Direct writers are insurance companies that hire their own salespeople to write exclusively for them; they work for the company that employs them. Independent agents work for the insured rather than the insurance company. They do, however, have contracts with multiple insurance companies and can usually provide you with more options.
Signs It Is Time To Find A New Agent
- They are responsive to calls and requests
- You are the one that indicates all conversations
- Requesting a quote is complicated
- When a claim occurs they are nowhere to be found
Qualities of a Good Agent
- A good Listener
- The desire to teach you rather than sell you
- Someone who view insurance as a promise, not a product
- A good agent will want to develop a relationship with you not just sell you then move on.
- Part of a national PIA association.
How To Start The Process
Testimonials: Yelp, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other social media platforms can help you determine whether or not a business provides good service. These websites can be useful, but meeting with an agent or broker in person is one of the greatest methods to determine whether or not they will take good care of you.
Personal Recommendations: Consult with your coworkers, people you trust, and your circle of friends. Asking a complete stranger is preferable to relying on advertisements or the yellow pages. People are more likely to refer others with whom they have had a good encounter.
Consider this like an interview, where you are selecting a person and agency to represent you.
- How long have they been in operation?
- What are their certifications if any? Look for agents with advanced designations such as Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) or Accredited Adviser in Insurance (AAI).
- Which companies do they represent?
- How will the renewal processes work?
- If you're going to have a personal account manager?
- How will they help if a claim occurs?
- What experience do they have with risks like yours?
- What they charge for services and/or how they are compensated?
- Ask them to review your current policies and make recommendations?
Conduct interviews with the contenders to determine which one is the best fit for you. Selecting a broker with strong communication skills will allow you to find an agent who is easy to relate to and who can provide you with information you need to understand your risk and how to best mange it.