We previously discussed the benefits of an independent insurance agent. So how do you choose the right agent for you?
Understand the Difference between Independent Agents, and “Captive” Agents.
Captive agents work with one specific insurance company. As part of their business agreement with that company, they can offer only that company’s insurance products. They may also be required to sell other products from that company, such as annuities and investment plans.
Independent agents and brokers can offer products from many insurance companies. This helps them better serve your interests, as they can review multiple options to find a policy and rate that’s right for you. Insurance rates vary from company to company. Independent agents can put together a customized insurance plan. If one company is competitive one year but not the next, the independent agent can quote other carriers.
Tips for Finding the Right Agent
- Ask for referrals from friends, family, colleagues and people you trust.
- Consider location. Does an agent have an office in your community? Is the agent/agency involved in the community?
- Check out their web site. Read the history and staff information. Does the site provide adequate insurance information and make it easy to get a quote?
- Interview the agent. Ask about credentials and certifications. The meeting or phone call should help you get an idea of their personality and feel respect for their knowledge and integrity.
Knowledge and Trust are Primary
Although knowledge and trust are built over time, look for signs of how the agent does business. Are they reputable? Does the agent answer all your questions with adequate information? Is the agent primarily focused on meeting your insurance needs by providing you with relevant options?