Choosing the right independent insurance agent to take care of your insurance needs (whether Business or Personal) should not be a "shot in the dark." You are looking for a long-term relationship with someone you can trust. You wouldn’t buy a house without shopping around, and you shouldn’t select an independent insurance agent without doing some research as well. So what should you look for in an insurance agent?
1. Know the Difference between Independent Insurance Agents and all other Insurance Agents
An independent insurance agent may be a small-business owner who represents many insurance companies. In contrast, agents who represent large, national insurance companies are employees of their company and only sell products from that company. A direct insurance company sells directly to you without an agent, typically online. An independent insurance agent has the opportunity to find the best price and coverage for your needs, and if an insurance company is competitive one year but not the next, your independent agent can quote other carriers. That is why they are called independent.
2. Ask for Referrals
Referrals from family, friends and colleagues are a good place to start. When you ask around, find out why they like their independent insurance agent. Ask about their customer service, knowledge and follow-through. Find out if the agent is friendly and courteous. Is their policy reviewed annually and do they help you through the renewal process?
3. Decide If Location Is Important to You
It may be important for you to have your independent insurance agent in your local area. This can give you the convenience of being able to stop by to ask questions or get help with a claim further developing that trust relationship. Many independent insurance agents are deeply committed to their community and are actively involved as coaches, scout leaders or civic leaders.
4. Visit Their Websites
Websites are full of information. Read about the history of the agency, the staff’s bios, their customer testimonials. See if their website provides insurance information and easy access to price quotes, either online or via telephone. Websites can give you a feel for the personality of the agency, what they think is important, and the type of customer service they provide.
5. Look for Credentials
A knowledgeable independent insurance agent can provide the advice you need when deciding what coverage and limits you need to protect your family and you. Look for independent insurance agents who have letters next their name on their business card. These letters represent professional designations, such as Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) or Certified Insurance Services Representative (CISR). To maintain these designations, independent insurance agents must take continuing education classes to maintain a knowledge level reflecting the current insurance industry standards and coverages.
6. Interview the Independent Agents
You should interview the independent agents you are considering. Personality is important since you should like the agent you are going to work with, potentially for several years. You should feel respect for their knowledge and get a sense about their integrity. They should be willing to help you understand the insurance that you are purchasing.
7. Knowledge and Trust Are Key
It is not so simple to determine knowledge and trust because these qualities are established over time. But you can start by asking the independent insurance agents you are considering to explain the products they sell and how they determine which products, coverage and limits you need. This will give you a good feel for how the agent does business. Look for the Trusted Choice logo.
Remember that your relationship with a good independent agent is likely to last a long time, so it pays to take the time to choose the right one for you. As your independent agent, our job is to help you select the best coverage and limits with the most competitive premiums. We represent a variety of insurance companies and are here to provide Courteous, Superior, Professional service to all of our clients (big or small). Visit our Contact Us page for a full list of agents ready to assist you.