So it’s your first time delving into the world of insurance, and you find the process quite intimidating. You decide to hire an independent insurance agent to help you get the right coverage you need. But there’s one problem; how do you choose the right one?
Whether for personal or business needs, you want to work with an insurance agent you can trust. The right agent will help you save valuable time and money, so without further ado, here are the top tips you can use to choose an insurance agent and get it right the first time.
1. Know the difference between direct writers and independent insurance agents
Most people who shop for insurance are unfamiliar with the individuals that provide them services. Typically, clients can obtain insurance in two ways; one is from direct writers, and the other is from insurance agents. What’s the difference you may ask?
- Direct writers – Direct writers work for only one insurance company. Also known as “captive” insurance agents, these individuals have extensive knowledge about the products and services their insurance company carries. If you plan on securing all your insurance needs with a single company, then direct writers are the way to go.
- Independent insurance agents – As the name suggests, independent insurance agents sell an array of policies from several different companies. By working with multiple insurance companies, insurance agents can offer more options in terms of coverage and customizability.
While both individuals can cater to the needs of their clients, an independent insurance agent can offer you more flexibility and even help you land better deals.
2. Check their credentials
When choosing an insurance agent, you want to make sure you’re working with an individual that has the credentials to showcase their expertise. Don’t hesitate to ask for certifications and verify their years of experience. You can tell an insurance agent has put in the time and effort to hone their craft by looking for professional insurance agent designations.
These designations are:
- CIC – Certified Insurance Counselor
- CRM – Certified Risk Manager
- CWCA – Certified WorkComp Advisor
- AAI – Accredited Advisor in Insurance
- CISR – Certified Insurance Service Representative
- CWCS – Certified WorkComp Specialist
- CPCU – Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter
If you notice these designations next to your insurance agent’s name, rest assured they’ve taken the extra effort to obtain their licenses and expand their knowledge of insurance products.
3. Ask previous clients for feedback
Credentials won’t matter if the insurance agent fails to meet the needs/expectations of their clients. When hiring an insurance agent, it’s worth asking for feedback from previous clients. Are they professional to work with? Do they take their time in explaining/comparing various insurance products?
How trustworthy are their services? By asking these questions, you can feel confident that the agent you’re working with is in it for your benefit and not just the insurance company.
4. Look for reviews online
Reputable insurance agents will proudly display their portfolios online to attract more clients and stamp their position within the insurance industry. A quick search online can prove useful in gathering more information about the insurance agent. For example, if you choose to work with a captive agent, you can visit their company’s website and evaluate the products/services they offer.
If you choose to work with an independent insurance agent, research the agencies they work with and look at their clients’ feedback. You can also check their social media pages and evaluate their content.
By doing your homework, you can narrow down your list of agents and hire the right one for your needs.
5. Consider the insurance agent’s location
Location plays a crucial factor in the selection process, as you want to work with an insurance agent that has an office nearby. Doing so allows you to discuss concerns with more clarity and develop a stronger relationship with your agent.
If you decide to hire an insurance agent from a different area, make sure they’re easily reachable thru phone, social media, or other communication channels. The last thing you want is to work with an agent that picks up your messages two or three days later.
6. Ask for a quote
Before you engage in business with any insurance agent, it’s a good idea to ask them for a quote first. This process will give you a good idea of how detailed they are in explaining insurance and how efficient they are in delivering the quote.
If you find that the insurance agent takes too long to communicate, consider it a red flag and move on to other options. Reputable agents will always take their time to ensure their clients always have access to the information they need.
Remember, even the small details matter when choosing an insurance agent, and if they can’t get the small thing right, it’s better to move on and narrow down your list further
7. Evaluate their social skills
The insurance industry is people-based, and the most successful insurance agents pair their knowledge of insurance with social skills to land long-term clients. Get to know the agent in person and see how well they communicate with you.
Does the agent sound confident with the insurance products their company is carrying? Do they exhibit good listening skills when you ask them questions? You’ll feel an air of confidence when working with a licensed professional, and if they have solid social skills on top of their insurance expertise, you can’t go wrong with hiring them.
8. Monitor the quality of their service
The job of an insurance agent doesn’t end once their client obtains coverage. In fact, it’s only the beginning of their work. A true insurance professional takes pride in providing excellent service, and the hallmark of a good insurance agent is how they treat their clients after they purchase insurance.
Does the agent still respond with the same urgency as the first time? Do they check in with you from time to time to ensure you still have adequate coverage? By answering these questions, you’ll be able to determine if the insurance agent you chose is worth sticking to for the long term.
Choosing an insurance agent for the first time may seem like a daunting proposition, but with the right approach, you can eliminate the headaches associated with the process. Hopefully, these tips give you a sound idea of what to look for in an insurance agent to help you get the coverage you need.
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