Independent Insurance Agents Can Keep You from Getting Burned
You’ve just bought a coffee table at IKEA. You cart the box home, open it up, and stare dejectedly at the plastic bags full of fasteners, washers, and other various pieces of the puzzle. You begin reading the instructions, find them confusing, and plunge ahead anyway, hoping for the best.
Sadly, many people approach finding an insurance agent in a similar way. Few of us know the industry or the product. We don’t know what kind of agent to look for or how to find the right one. We just throw up our hands and go to the Internet. We look up the names we know, and we call Company X because we’ve seen a zillion of their ads on TV that claim we can get covered inexpensively with the least amount of hassle.
The end result may be that you bought inadequate coverage because you shopped on price alone, leaving gaps in coverage that could come back to bite you in a claims situation. Here are two important considerations to keep in mind when it comes time to find an insurance agent.
1. Go with an experienced independent agent with long-established contacts. The idea is to avoid getting boxed into cookie-cut policies from a single insurance entity but to instead find an agent that will place you with the best company that will offer the most extensive coverage at a reasonable price. Insurance companies like to sell on bundling, just like your cable TV company. However, a bundle on your car and home policies may not be to your advantage. An independent insurance agent will look at all your options and present them to you from an unbiased perspective. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that you can turn to an independent expert that obtains the best coverage options for you if you ever need to file a claim.
The Internet can be your friend in your search. Type “independent insurance agents” into your search engine. Look for individuals who are members of state associations and who have certifications and accreditations beyond a license. If the agent is actively involved in issues and regulations that impact the insurance industry, it indicates that the person is passionate about his or her profession. The last thing you want is an agent who is just phoning it in.
2. Don’t shop on price alone. You’d be surprised at how many people go cheap when it comes to their insurance coverage. Chances are you won’t suffer as a result of your decision—unless you have a loss. Then you’ll find out you should have paid more for comprehensive coverage, and that an independent insurance agent would have steered you away from making the wrong decision about which insurance product to buy.
Insurance is a complicated business. It’s not something you should buy off the shelf like a coffee table from IKEA. The good news is that experts stand ready to help.