CHOOSING AN INSURANCE AGENT:
Things to Evaluate When Selecting an Insurance Agent
April 14, 2017
INSURE U - Get Smart About Insurance is a public education program created by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) to assist consumers with information about insurance issues.
Insure U is designed to help insurance consumers as their lives and needs change, and to educate them about how to avoid being scammed. The program also reminds consumers of the tools and resources provided them by state insurance regulators.
Picking the right insurance coverage for you and your family isn’t just about understanding your insurance choices and selecting the right policy – it’s also about finding the right insurance agent. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) offers these tips to help you find the right agent for your insurance needs.
How to Start Find an Agent
Before searching for an agent, brush up on your insurance knowledge at the NAIC’s Insure U website (www.insureuonline.org). Once you have a better understanding of your insurance needs, here are a few places to start:
Referrals from Family, Friends, Neighbors, Colleagues –In a recent NAICsurvey, 79% of consumers questioned indicated they asked family and friends for insurance advice; 65% said they also asked colleagues and social acquaintances. When you ask around, find out why they like the agent. Is it the customer service? Is the agent friendly and knowledgeable? Did the company they represent do a particularly good job handling a claim? Have their rates for a particular coverage increased or decreased over the past three years? Does the agent review their policy annually to make sure they’re getting the best coverage at the best price?
Internet – Search for the line of coverage on the internet. The largest companies writing that line will typically be the first listings you find. Many companies also post lists of its licensed agents online.
Whether you’re looking for your first agent or thinking about switching agents or companies, it’s a good idea to have several to choose from. When evaluating your list, consider these things:
Personality – Have conversations with prospective agents. Explain your situation and ask for a quote. Simply asking does not mean you have to work with them. This is a chance for you to get a feel for how they work and if you’re comfortable with them.
Credentials – Many agents and brokers will have letters behind their names on their business cards. These represent designations or credentials they have earned from various insurance groups or associations. Ask them what these letters mean and what they had to accomplish to earn the credential.
Licensing – Make sure the agent and the company they are writing your policy with are licensed in your state. You can check company licensing information on the NAIC Consumer Information Source (CIS) web page (https://eapps.naic.org/cis/) or by calling your state insurance department. Find their contact details here: http://map.naic.org.
Complaints –While you’re checking whether the agent and the company are licensed, also check to see if they’ve had complaints filed against them. For the company, you can check the NAIC’s CIS or call your state insurance department. The insurance department can also tell you if any complaints have been filed against the agent. You also might check with the Better Business Bureau to see if any consumers have filed complaints – or compliments – about the agents you’re considering.
Financial Strength of the Company – When evaluating a company, you also want to check its company financial rating. There are five major rating services. Each has their own criteria for rating that uses a combination of qualitative and quantitative numbers to assess the company. Generally, a letter rating from A to F is assigned to the company. Be sure to review how the rating agency assesses the company and understand the rating system.
References – When you’re applying for a job, you provide references, so don’t be afraid to ask a prospective agent for the same.
Ask Questions – If you’ve had a particularly interesting insurance experience, or have heard of one, ask the agent how they and the company they represent would have dealt with the situation.
When in Doubt– If you’re not sure what questions to ask or you would like more guidance on how to evaluate a potential agent, contact your state insurance department.
Read more here: http://www.naic.org/documents/consumer_alert_selecting_agent.htm