What to Consider When Selecting an Insurance Agent
Turn on the TV, scroll through your social media account, or open almost any media publication and you will see advertisements from insurance agents who claim to be able to save you money, name your own price, or represent “all types” of insurance coverages. With so many available options to choose from, how can you make an informed decision regarding the person or agency that you will eventually select to protect your home, life, health, or business?
It’s important to verify an agent’s credentials, including when they were originally licensed by the state and the types of coverages that they can legally represent. Simply having an agent’s license does not equate to qualified experience in homeowners, life, health, or commercial insurance, so it’s important to identify the agent’s “niche” clientele and determine whether they have the ability to meet your specific needs.
– Market Access / Carrier Appointments
An independent agency should be able to represent more than just a handful of insurance carriers. Open market access to multiple insurers allows the agent to “shop” your policies internally, which provides more cost and coverage options at renewal. Conversely, agents who have fewer carrier appointments are less likely to offer as many products and services to their clients. Ask your agent to provide a list of active carrier appointments prior to obtaining insurance quotes for your home or business.
Request local client referrals, and contact each of them directly to discuss the agent’s industry knowledge, responsiveness, and customer service. Does the agent respond quickly to emails and/or voicemails? Do they provide evidence of coverage requests in a timely manner, and are they established in the local community as a reliable industry expert? Were they immediately accessible to file an insurance claim after a fire, auto accident, or hurricane event, and was the agent proactive throughout the adjustment process?
While researching the agent’s license credentials, you should also determine whether any complaints have been filed with the state’s insurance department. You may also check with the Better Business Bureau or online social media pages to review public comments and/or complaints. Complaints can range from customer service issues to ethics violations, so it’s important to review the agent’s prior history before moving forward.
Your insurance agent should not be selected because of catchy gimmicks, colorful mascots, or corporate bravado. This will be the industry professional that you will rely upon to create a unique insurance program which protects your home or business, so it’s important to maintain a level of comfort and trust at all times.
An insurance agent should be more than a vendor that simply forwards premium invoices and reacts “as needed” to service requests. They should perform as your trusted advocate when claims occur, and assist with the navigation through a very complicated industry through proactive and effective communication.
Joseph R. Chiarella is a Senior Risk Mitigation Specialist at Vero Insurance, a Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC Company. He specializes in corporate risk programs and can be reached by phone at (772)473-1100, or email at Joe@VeroInsurance.com