Hiring a professional to do a job for you or provide a service is serious business. Real estate agents talk about location, location, location. I think insurance is about service, service, service.
You can purchase insurance policies from three main sources:
- Independent agents representing many insurance companies
- Captive agents who represent a single carrier
- Online or telephone representatives
Choosing The Best Insurance Agent: Ask The Right Questions
You may think that shopping online can get you the best price, but you might sacrifice customer service when you file a claim. Whether interviewing agents in person or comparing plans online, get the following information:
- Which carrier(s) do they represent?
- What is their capability and willingness to assist customers with the claims process? Do they have a twenty-four-hour helpline? Online claims filing?
- Do they offer a full range of products (homeowner’s insurance, automobile insurance, business insurance, life insurance, and health insurance)?
- What kind of discounts will they give you for bundling insurance plans?
- How often will they review your insurance portfolio?
Choosing The Best Insurance Agent: Ask for References
Your insurance agent will likely check your credit report to evaluate you as a potential client. Shouldn’t you be doing your homework to evaluate your service provider?
The first step in choosing the best insurance agent is to ask friends, family, colleagues, and trusted advisers who they use and if they’ve had a good experience with the agent’s products and services. Do they feel the insurance agent cares about their family and business? How do they rate the service and premiums? Do they have any complaints about the agent’s business capabilities or ethics?
Choosing The Best Insurance Agent: Do Your Due Diligence
While the opinion of friends and family can be a great aid in decision making, don’t trust an agent just because he or she seems like a nice person. When it comes to buying insurance, always make sure your agent has the proper licenses and credentials.
- If you are looking for an independent broker, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America can help you research insurance agents in your area.
- Contact your state insurance department for information on any complaints of an insurance agent or a carrier writing business in your state.
- Check A.M. Best and Moody’s for ratings on specific insurance carriers the agency represents. The stronger the rating, the more comfortable you can feel knowing the carrier is in good standing and able to meet current and future obligations.
- Check J.D. Power for its customer service ranking of specific insurance carriers.
Again, hiring a professional is serious business. If you care enough to choose the best insurance agent, your professional representative will care about you, too.
Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.