What Makes a Good Agent?
When it comes to insurance protection, people want a long-term relationship with a trusted advisor they can turn to many years into the future.
In fact, a survey by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) found that:
- Three out of four insurance consumers use an agent when purchasing personal insurance.
- More than half the respondents over the age of 55 have purchased insurance from the same agent for at least 20 years.
- More than 60 percent say they value the opportunity to discuss insurance with a real person.
If you’re like most people, you want to develop a long-term relationship with an agent that you can depend on. How do you make sure that the agent is professional, understanding and reputable? Here are some things to look for:
- Independence: Independent agents represent an average of 8 different companies. This allows the agent to evaluate and compare the products and services of several insurance companies to find the right combination of coverage plans and savings value to you.
- Licensing by the state.
- Contact numbers and names of all companies the agent is representing.
- Number of years the agent and agency have been in business.
- Agent’s professional designations: For example: CPCU (Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter) and CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) are 2 among the industry’s most rigorous and prestigious designations.
- Areas of specialization: Some agents and agencies have experience in specialized products and services such as insurance for farm, classic cars or home and business.
- Recommendations and referrals: How did you hear about the agent and the agency? Did someone refer you? Ask the person who referred you specific details on their experience with the agent and agency.
- Full-service capability: Ask who will handle your account for routine updates and transactions.
- Hours, Emergency Numbers, and Claim Services: Find out if you can contact the agency after hours. You should be able to get a hold of the agency for any claim or other emergency needs.
- Claims help: Ask if the agent plays a role in handling and tracking claims for you. Will the agent help resolve disputes that might arise with an insurance company?
- Policy review: Does the agency occasionally review and update policies to make sure that your policy is keeping pace with the changes in your situation?
- Community involvement: Does your agent participate in any local organizations, boards, volunteer activities, or any other civic endeavors?
- Industry associations: Does your agent participate in any local, state, or national trade associations? These activities often signify the professionalism and the commitment to continuing education in the insurance field.
Information supplied by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.