Are you looking for the best prices, broadest coverage, or a personal connection with them? Do you hire based on your gut feeling, do you base it off of a friend’s referral or do you research the agent before making a decision? Perhaps you are looking for an agent that works for an agency that can also insure your business, provide life insurance and medical coverage for your professional or personal needs?
Your decision to hire a new insurance agent and agency is very important because you are entrusting them to help you protect your assets. You want to make sure they have, not just the knowledge and experience to assess exactly what your needs are, but also the ability and desire to insure them properly.
Before you start the process of seeking a new agent, make sure you know what your expectations are. Are you seeking an independent agent that works with a variety of insurance companies and that has their finger in the changing market or are you looking for a direct agent that uses just one company and therefore, are an expert with that one company? Do you need to prefer to have sit-down meetings with your agent or are you more comfortable communicating using the phone or email? Make sure that your agent is willing to communicate with you in the ways that meet your needs!
Understand what your actual insurance needs are before you seek out a new agent or agency. Look at your assets. Are you seeking to insure a high valued home? Or do you have an expensive car or car collection that you need to protect? Do you have valuable jewelry, artwork or other collectables that you want to insure? The market has several carriers that specialize in high value homes, vehicles and valuable items, such as Chubb, Fireman’s Fund, Chartis and Ace. Does the agent that you are interviewing have the ability to work with each of these carriers? Do you have issues on your driving record, antique cars, or an older home? Is your home in a hard to write area, such as a high fire zone or near the ocean? If so, it is important that your agent have a relationship with a Surplus Lines Broker, allowing them to rate shop your insurance with the best insurance companies available.
Do you understand the coverage options on the policies? Should your vehicle be covered for Agreed Value or Market Value? Do you have valuables that should be insured under a Personal Articles floater or does the policy have automatic coverage that is adequate? Each policy has limitations and you need to be educated by your agent so that you can make a good decision based on your needs. Communication is critical in getting the right outcome when purchasing insurance! With so many choices it is imperative that you choose an agent that is going to take the time to explain them to you so that you can make the best decisions regarding insuring your property. Not only should your agent be able to explain everything to you in “plain English” without using confusing insurance jargon but they should be approachable so that you feel comfortable asking questions.
Do not be afraid to ask questions during the quoting process. If you don’t understand something the insurance agent has said, let them know! Make sure you ask the question, “How does this quote compare to my other policies in regards to coverage?” Does the new coverage exclude something that was on your old policy? Is it a coverage that you feel that you can be without? If not, insist that your agent find a way to include the coverage in their quote, never accept a policy that you are not comfortable with or hire an agent that you do not trust.
Hiring your insurance broker is one of the most important decisions you will make. Remember, you are entrusting them to help you protect your most valuable assets. So choose wisely!