How to Find a Good Insurance Agent

08 Jul

Your insurance agent is a licensed professional who helps you prepare for some of the worst disasters that could happen in life. Because they offer advice on topics that could prove essential if you ever need to file a claim, you want someone who is highly qualified. If you are looking for an insurance agent, here is how to find such a person.

Familiarity With Policies You Need

First, look for an insurance agent who is familiar with the types of insurance policies you need. Just like other professionals, many insurance agents specialize in certain types of policies. They are often even licensed in specific types of policies, such as property and casualty policies (which include auto, home, boat, and similar policies).

If you needed a knee replacement, you would see an orthopedic surgeon and not an eye doctor. Not because the eye doctor was not good, but because that is not their particular area of expertise.

Similarly, you should find an insurance agent who thoroughly knows the nuances of whatever type of insurance you need. If you need home or auto insurance, find a property and casualty agent who has helped others with these policies. If you need insurance for a business, find someone who can explain the various commercial insurance options available.

Close Proximity to Your Area

Second, give preference to agents who are fairly close to where you are. They don’t necessarily need to live right next door, but someone who’s in the same general region will have insights that an agent in another state might not. Someone who has lived and worked where you are will know what sorts of risks are common to your area.

For example, an agent who lives nearby might know car collisions with deer are common. An agent who is far away might not be aware of this.

Alternatively, a nearby agent might have specific ideas on how to reduce hurricane damage risks if you live in Florida. Someone who is located in a northern state where hurricanes are rare might not have firsthand experience or specific tips on the subject.

Independence From a Single Insurance Company

Third, insurance agents can be classified into two groups: captive agents and independent agents. This classification does not have anything to do with their professional knowledge or competence, but it does determine what policies they are able to show you.

Captive agents have a special relationship with a particular insurance company and, thus, are captive to that company’s policies. In many cases, they can only show you policies from that particular company.

Independent insurance agents, in contrast, are so-called because they operate independently of any single insurance company. They frequently work with many insurance companies, and they are able to show you any of those companies’ policies.

Working with an independent insurance agent ensures you can get the best available policy regardless of what company offers it. With a captive agent, you can only get one company’s best offering. With an independent agent, you can compare every company’s quote and select whichever one most suits your needs.

Membership With Professional Organizations

Finally, pick an insurance agent who is a member of one or more professional organizations. Professional memberships are different from licensure, which is required at the state level. These memberships show a certain level of qualifications.

A few different professional memberships exist that agents might have, depending on their area of expertise. Some of the more common ones are programs from the Insurance Institute of America, which has a Certificate in General Insurance and more specialized certificates.

To speak with an independent insurance agent who is knowledgeable and meets these criteria, contact the team members at Family Insurance Centers.