Independent Insurance Agents
There's a common thought in popular culture that insurance agents, used car salespeople, and most of the real estate sales industry aren't people to be trusted. It's a tired and misleading idea, but like a range of others, it's one that's grounded in past experiences and history. From desperate-for-any-sale insurance brokers to masterfully misleading car salesman, this was the reality, or it was years ago.
Today, the insurance industry is significantly less of a 'wild west' than it once was, with today's top agents looking out for their clients as much as they do their wallets. Gone are the days of trick after sales trick, dodgy policies, and limited policing. Today, insurance is regulated quite strongly, which has resulted in a massive amount of competitively priced, largely worthwhile deals for consumers.
Today, we're going to look at the process of working with an independent insurance agent. Although it can differ on a state-by-state basis, working with an insurance agent is generally a straightforward and simple process. With their advanced knowledge of the insurance industry, they really are a great resource for policyholders and new insurance shoppers aiming to maximize their value for money.
Working with an insurance agent is fairly simple, provided you understand their role in the process of comparing and purchasing insurance. Agents aren't employees of the insurance companies you're purchasing policies from, nor are they paid a salary. Instead, agents are external representatives that receive a commission based on every sale, rather than a flat fee for interacting with all customers.
This makes them largely unbiased when it comes to insurance programs, as the vast majority of the insurance providers offer relatively competitive and uniform commissions for agents. It does make them slightly focused on completing a sale, often at any expense, as it's in their best interests to get you to purchase any insurance policy from them, completing the transaction and resulting in a sale.
So think about things in terms of process, not necessarily any single bias. Independent insurance agents would like you to complete a transaction with them, but they're not going to push you into any one specific program. If you're committed to purchasing insurance, an agent isn't a bad thing, but if you're uncertain about whether or not you need an insurance policy, it's worth reconsidering.
Independent insurance agents offer a variety of different forms of insurance, and within these types of insurance they can offer a variety of providers. Their excellent knowledge of the industry makes them a good informational resource. If you're uncertain of which policy is the best option for you, an agent can be a worthwhile and largely unbiased point of call for gaining more information.
The vast majority of agents work with several insurance companies. Many deal with upwards of ten or fifteen insurance providers at once, allowing them to see deep into the workings of the industry – a skill that can locate great deals for you. However, this can also result in some agents gaining just a broad knowledge of the industry, without learning any specific information a type of policy.
This leaves you with an interesting choice – do you go with a general insurance agent, or instead look for someone that specializes in one type of insurance. Many agents specialize in property or health insurance alone, leaving the other forms of insurance for other agents. By working with an agent that specializes, you're likely to access better deals and gain more specific information.
On the other hand, you're also likely to dramatically increase the amount of time and effort required to complete an entire insurance portfolio. Specialist agents might also be unable to assist in finding policies outside of their area of expertise. This leads to customers 'jumping' agents, using more than one agent in an effort to find the best overall policy deals, yet spending more money on the whole.
Generally speaking, this isn't a great position to be in. Using an insurance agent to find and manage your policies is a service, not a personal task, and increasing the amount of time required to buy all of your insurance isn't a great idea. In fact, you'll often find greater aggregate savings from a single agent than you will from many, as purchasing 'bulk' policies can result in lower overall expenses.
As the insurance industry is highly competitive, it's best to speak with several agents before picking a policy. Most cities are home to hundreds of different independent insurance agencies, and an even greater number of agents affiliated with a larger agency group. Speak with several to get a picture of which insurance companies offer the best value, as this can help you find the better policy options.
Finally, don't be afraid to say 'no' when dealing with agents. This is a commission-based industry, and like any other where earnings are all or nothing, sales tactics can often get pushy. Understand that you are in control of your purchases, and the final decision is your own. This will allow you to compare agents and deals without feeling forced to work with any one specific insurance agent.
Finding and purchasing insurance needn't be difficult, and with a great insurance agent on your side, it rarely is. Compare multiple agents, multiple policies, and multiple companies, and you're unlikely to experience any difficulties. In fact, you might walk away with an insurance deal that you never thought was possible, due to the experience and knowledge of a skilled insurance agent.