Because insurance is a necessity, it’s common for people to choose an agent for convenience or urgency, instead of quality of the agent. But when you have the time to shop around and compare agents, here are the qualities of a great insurance agent that you should look for.
Often times it can be appealing to buy the insurance policy with the lowest premium. And if you don’t have a claim, that will probably pay off for you by saving you some money each month. However, the primary purpose for carrying insurance is to protect you financially in case you do have a claim—and this is where we see people run into trouble.
The lowest cost insurance may not cover as much as you were led to believe when it is time to file a claim. Some insurance carriers find ways to skimp on claim reimbursement to offset budget losses that come with being the “low-cost provider”.
In the end, while you may save a few bucks a month in premium costs, when it comes time to make a claim, you are going to pay that savings back—and possibly even more. Loopholes in your coverage could go unreimbursed.
A good agent knows which carriers are A-rated; an insurance industry measure of creditworthiness and the ability to pay claims. They will treat their policyholders fairly in both premium and claims. It is possible to find a good deal with a highly rated carrier. Just remember, if you are presented an option that is 50-75% below the next best option, there is usually a reason for that—one that you won’t want to find out the hard way.
When you are not a licensed insurance agent, it can be hard to compare quotes from different carriers and different agents. A good agent will ask you to either provide very detailed information on your current coverage or have you send in the “declaration page” of your existing policy which contains those details.
When they prepare alternative quotes, they’ll provide an “apples-to-apples” comparison against your current coverage. Often, we see unreputable agents provide quotes for uncomparable policies; showing a lower premium without being honest about the reduced coverage.
A good agent may not agree with your current coverage and may make an adjustment. But a good agent will also always explain how this affected your premium and why it is worth it, regardless of if it increased or decreased your premium.
It is a terrible feeling to make your first insurance claim only to find out that your policy doesn’t cover the full amount of the damage; especially if you’ve been paying a premium for years.
A good insurance agent not only ensures you have the appropriate amount and type of coverage at the outset, but also will review periodically to ensure your needs haven’t changed. A common example is homeowners insurance. You may have purchased a policy when you originally bought the house many years ago, but eventually renovated your basement. In this case, you were properly covered at the time you bought the house, but home renovations call for a policy renovation as well. Without an adjustment to include the basement updates, any problem will come 100% out of your pocket.
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Of course the last must-have on your great agent checklist is someone who reviews your needs and your coverage routinely—and most importantly is there when you need them most. By law, the exact same policy through the exact same insurance carrier for a family will cost the same no matter which agent you use. Agents—or in our case, Advisors—earn and keep their business by being great at quoting quality carriers, staying on top of coverage needs and providing superior service.
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