There’s more to choosing insurance than just searching for quotes on the internet or finding the lowest price. Your choice of insurance agents can affect the quality of service you receive and your level of satisfaction. Choosing the right agent is essential to getting the most for your premium dollars.
When you start looking for an insurance agent, be aware that there are two types of agents. Independent insurance agents work with several different companies whereas Captive agents have a dedicated book of business with just one insurance company.
The obvious advantage to an independent agent is that you may receive quotes from more than one insurance company and you may end up with a lower premium overall. Getting a lower price, however, may not always translate to a better deal. An agent is more than just the middleman in a business transaction; a good agent should also be an advocate for the customer.
There can be advantages to a Captive agent as well. These agents have well-established reputations and working relationships with the insurance companies they do business with. It is likely that they know the personnel in the claims department and management well and are known by them. If they are a valued agent, they can be an effective advocate in the case of a disputed claim.
Before you decide on an insurance agent, get references and check their ratings from existing customers. Consider what types of services you want from your agent. You want someone who is on your side and looking out for your best interest.
Are you looking to place all of your insurance business with the same agency? If so, make sure they do business with insurance companies who handle multiple lines of insurance such as home insurance, auto insurance, commercial insurance, etc.
Ask about their customer service department. Will there be a dedicated agent assigned to you? Take time to find out their protocol when reporting a claim and who will be your liaison with the insurance company. Do you feel comfortable that your agent will go to bat for you in the event of a dispute between you and the insurance company?
How well do they understand your individual needs, and have they explained why they recommend certain coverages and limits? How often do they review your policy and will they alert you to any changes or updates to your policy that you ought to be aware of? Will they give you comparative quotes or recommend changes if there are rate increases?
Every agent should be well-versed in policy language, how it affects you and whether or not the policy you want to buy is the policy you need.
Finding the right agent that can serve you both today and for the long term allows you to build more than just a business relationship, but a relationship of trust. Having an agent who knows your circumstances, your insurance needs and treats you as a valued customer instead of just a policy number will pay dividends in superior customer service for many years to come.