Are you in need of a new insurance agent? Maybe you’re not sure, and you’re browsing around looking for ideas and suggestions, or you’ve decided to switch, but you’re not sure how. Regardless of your reasoning, it’s a good idea to vet your potential insurance agents before you make your decision.
Not all insurance agents are alike. While many are trustworthy and helpful, others are out to exploit their clients. How can you tell the difference between a good insurance agent and a bad one?
Please keep reading to learn all about insurance agents, how to find a great one, and 10 signs that your insurance agent may not be as trustworthy as they seem.
Why Should I Consider Swapping When I’ve Used the Same Agent Forever?
Being used to your insurance agent doesn’t disqualify them from being a bad insurance agent. Even if they’re a great agent, our needs change over time, and you may have outgrown them.
But how can you tell when this happens?
Later in the article, we’re going to tell you how to determine whether or not your agent is good, but let’s talk about why you should make the change in the first place.
If you’ve been working with the same agent, you may not know how much money you could be saving while looking elsewhere. We get used to things as they are, and this comfort may be causing you to miss important savings.
Switching insurance agents can help you find an agent that’s up to date on best practices within the field. It’s important to assess your situation every year.
Have your insurance needs changing? Is your current insurer the one that you want to stick with? Are your friends paying less for insurance than you are?
It’s time to switch car insurance companies, business insurance companies, home insurance companies, compare car insurance quotes or more, make the switch.
These changes usually happen around renewal time if you want to avoid any cancellation fees.
Independent Insurance Agents
Independent insurance agents are underutilized. These agents don’t work with a specific company. Instead, they work for the client to help them find coverage from an insurer within a specific network.
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of choosing independent insurance agents.
Independent insurance agents work with a variety of insurance companies. They can find what’s best for you without being restricted to one company. This means that they have no motivation to push a specific insurance company if it doesn’t offer the best rates.
They’re willing to work with you to find the best options. Whether you have a low credit score, you’ve had a change in your life situation, you’re not sure how or when to switch car insurance companies, and anything else you might need help with, they’re able to make an unbiased decision and offer advice.
We’ll talk more about all of the benefits of choosing an independent life insurance agent later in the article, but we love the customer-focused approach that they take.
Independent insurance agents don’t always have the “big names” within their network. Businesses that don’t spend as much on marketing are more likely to work with these agents. If you have your eye on a big name insurance company, you might be out of luck.
That said, large marketing budgets don’t equate to high-quality insurance.
Captive Insurance Agents
Captive insurance agents are agents hired by specific insurance companies to sell their insurance. Unlike independent agents, they’re bound to these companies, so they’re motivated to sell you insurance whether or not it’s the best option.
There are benefits to captive insurance agents, but there are also some serious downfalls.
Captive insurance agents work with the large companies that some independent insurance agencies don’t have access to. If you have your heart set on one of those companies, they may be your best bet.
They also know the insurance company inside and out because they’re only obligated to learn about that one company.
When you opt for a captive insurance agent, you can’t know that you’re getting the best rate. You may only be getting the best rates for that company.
For example, if you ask for a car insurance quote, they won’t offer you more affordable options if they aren’t available via that company. They don’t want you to switch car insurance companies.
While these agents are motivated to use great customer service for client satisfaction, customer service is tied to their commission. It doesn’t serve the client as well as it serves the company.
Buying Insurance Online
So why do you need an agent at all? There are plenty of ways to find insurance online, so are agents outdated?
Let’s talk about why buying online on your own may or may not be the best choice.
You’ll have lower premiums. There’s no middle man when you search for insurance coverage on your own. You’ll also find that the process moves fast because you have all insurance companies at your fingertips.
For someone who isn’t educated on insurance, the quotes and policies are confusing. There may be some fine print that you’re missing or some confusing legalese. When you opt to use an insurance agent, they help you parse through all of those details.
Customers don’t get the advantage of having an insurance agent to help them. While these companies have agents, a direct agent attends to your needs, while call center agents may toss you around the office, so you’re always speaking with different people.
This is a problem. If you’re looking for information on a home insurance quote and you’ve already explained your queries to one agent, the next agent won’t have that information, and you’ll have to start all over.
When you’re looking for quote comparisons, it’s hard to find what’s right when you’re working on your own. While almost all companies say that their rates are the best, they cherry-pick numbers to “prove” that.
In other words, it’s a good idea to have an agent working alongside you, regardless of whether they’re a captive agent or an independent agent. You’ll get more information on your potential policies, and each agent will offer better customer service.
Finding a Great Independent Insurance Agent
So how do you know when you’ve found a great independent insurance agent?
Before making your decision, do your research. Your goal is to find an agent that has your best interests in mind. That isn’t easy when there are so many options to choose from, and each one claims to be the best.
Using a site like QuoteWizard is a great way to find independent insurance agents in your area. This narrows your pool of options to a more manageable level.
Next, look into reviews and testimonials. It’s a good idea to talk to people you know first, so you know that their testimonials are authentic. Who have they had success with? Who do they tell you to avoid? These suggestions are important.
If you don’t have success with word of mouth suggestions, take your search online. Insurance agents have ratings and reviews on Google and Yahoo to help potential customers.
A low star rating, or a few low stars, doesn’t mean that the agent isn’t good. It means that someone had a bad experience with a service that may have nothing to do with what you’re looking for.
Benefits of a Great Independent Insurance Agent
When you find the right agent, you know that you’re getting a well-rounded look at all of your insurance options. A good one is interested in their commission, but they’re also interested in finding you the best possible quotes. After all, a satisfied customer is a return customer.
Their commission rates are higher, meaning that providing better customer service to ensure customer trust is crucial.
The right independent insurance agent will help you navigate complicated insurance situations, insurance claims, and fine print. While you’ll work with a middle man, you’ll still be saving money by finding the best insurance rate with their help.
Disadvantages of a Bad Insurance Agent
So what about a bad insurance agent? Are you already working with one?
Bad insurance agents tend to work with a limited pool of insurance companies. Their network is small, so that they won’t offer you the best possible insurance options.
They may also work with one company as a captive insurance agent. If so, you know that you’re not getting the most well-rounded approach to your insurance coverage.
Worse still, there are untrustworthy insurance agents. These agents aren’t afraid to commit insurance fraud if it means that they’ll earn their commission.
Identifying Untrustworthy Insurance Agents: 10 Ways to Know
How do you know if your insurance agent is untrustworthy? Some people are only in it for the money, and they want their high commission even if it comes at the cost of your wellbeing.
Here’s how to tell if someone is using shady tactics.
1. High-Pressure Sales Tactics
Do you feel like the insurance agent is rushing you? They may offer things like “one time deals” or limited promotions that end that week.
This is an unethical way to do business. They know that this added pressure makes you more likely to feel backed into a corner and purchase a policy right away. When someone does this to you and isn’t willing to give you time to think about your options, walk away.
2. They Want Direct Pay
Have you heard about premium diversion? It’s a common form of insurance fraud in which your insurance agent chooses to keep the money that you should be spending on premiums.
If your agent asks you to make checks out to them, you know that they’re up to no good. The checks should always go to your insurer. The payment for the agent comes through the insurer in the form of commission.
3. They Quote a Low Premium
Has your insurance agent give you a quote that seems too good to be true? Don’t get too excited. Shady insurance agents tell you about these low rates to draw you in.
If a rate is far lower than all of the other ones you’ve seen, do your research. It isn’t impossible that your agent plans on tricking you into a plan with poor coverage, or even a plan that doesn’t exist at all.
4. There Are No Clear Credentials and No Physical Address
All insurance agents need to be licensed to work. Ask them about their license and check out the State Department of Insurance to ensure that they have the credentials they claim to have.
They should also have a physical business address and a business phone and email address. If an agent seems too casual and only communicates with personal devices, it’s a major red flag.
5. They Add Extra Coverage
Is your agent pressuring you to add coverage that you don’t need? Did they add coverage without your consent?
Because insurance agents make a commission, some of them are inclined to add things that you don’t ask for to boost their own profits. Always take a thorough look at your coverage and point out anything that seems off.
It’s possible for insurance agents to make mistakes, but it’s a bad sign.
6. They Encourage You to Inflate the Value of Your Claim
Lying on claims forms is a form of insurance fraud. An agent who does this is interested in putting money in their pocket, and they don’t mind getting you in trouble to do so.
While a good agent helps you with the claims process, a bad agent does so with bad intentions. They don’t want to help you keep your insurance reasonable, and they want to fill their pockets.
When in doubt, talk to the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud to get help.
7. They Represent an Unknown Insurer
While most independent agents work with smaller insurers, you should be able to look up the company and determine that it’s real.
If this insurance agent claims to work with a great insurer that you can’t find information on, walk away. They’re trying to trick you. Research the companies first and take a close look at any documents the agent asks you to sign. While they may look professional, they may be fraudulent.
8. There’s No Documentation
The insurance company you choose should always provide you with documentation within a month of your purchase. If it’s been too long, contact your agent.
While it may be a matter of mail being held up, it’s possible that your agent is either using a fraudulent company or pocketing the difference after giving you a cheaper insurance plan than what you were quoted.
9. They’re Dishonest In Your Application
You can’t trust an insurer that lies about you or your business. Don’t be fooled; while it may seem like they’re doing it for your benefit, it’s for theirs.
If you’re found out (and you will be), the insurance company can void your policy. If you’re worried, reach out to the insurer and explain your concerns. This way, the fraud is put onto the agent, not you.
10. They Misclassify Your Business
This is another way in which an agent can lie to the insurers. Your business insurance depends on different aspects of your business. For example, if you run a motel, insurance costs more for those with a pool than those without.
Your insurer claims that you don’t have a pool to get you a lower premium.
If you need worker’s compensation insurance, your agent may lie about the number of employees you have, claiming that some are contractors.
These things favor the agent, not you.
Why Opt for a New Independent Agency?
Finding a new agency seems confusing. Why bother making the change if you’re comfortable where you are?
There are plenty of reasons to make a change! As a review from section 1, now that you know all of the facts, here are a few reasons to change:
- It’s good to review your insurance annually
- You may have had life changes
- You may be uninsured
- Named insureds may be different
- There’s an accessible staff
- There are multiple insurance companies to choose from
- It’s easier to manage with online appointments and mobile apps
Overall, we think it’s a great idea to consider switching insurance agencies.
Frequently Answered Questions
Is this all overwhelming? We understand that this is a lot of information to take in, and you might have questions. While you can always contact us with your queries, and we’re happy to talk you through them, here are a few frequently asked questions to get you started on the right foot.
Can Insurance Agents Help With Claims?
One great benefit of an insurance agent is that you don’t have to navigate the claims process independently. When you need to make an insurance claim, talk to your insurance agent first to find the most cost-effective options.
Because your insurance agent wants to keep you as a return customer, they’re motivated to help you out. They know the ins and outs of insurance claims, and a good agent can walk you through the whole process.
Will My Rates Change?
Your insurance rates may change by switching agencies. As long as you’re switching during renewal time, you’re only subject to the changes that would already have come with the renewal.
However, if you’re switching insurance companies, as is common with a change in agents, you will get different rates for the insurance types you’re looking for. That’s exactly what you’re looking for.
Can I Save Money?
You can save money by switching insurance agencies!
When you’re working with a captive insurance agent, they’re limited to the insurance agency that they work for. You aren’t getting the best rates because you don’t have the ability to shop around.
Swapping to an independent insurance agent allows you the flexibility to use them as a one-stop-shop for all of your insurance needs. You can compare insurance plans with an unbiased agent.
Even switching to a new independent agent from an old one saves you money. Not all agents have the same network of insurers, so when you change agents, you’re getting a whole host of new options.
Who Do Independent Insurance Agents Work For?
While captive agents work for the insurance companies, independent insurance agents work for you: the customer.
These agents have no interest in sticking with specific companies. While they want their commissions, they can get them from any insurance company that you choose within their network. That allows them the flexibility that they need to make the best choice for your situation.
If you want the best customer service, you want to work with an independent insurance agent.
Are Independent Agents Knowledgable?
It’s true that captive insurance agents are experts on their own insurance companies, but are independent agents reliable?
Independent agents have to know about all of the insurance options that they offer. They need to know when and why rates change, how life circumstances impact insurance coverage and the basic details of every company within their network.
While this is a lot of information, they have access to all of it at their fingertips so that you can walk through it together.
Is It Time to Make a Change?
It’s time to take a look at new insurance agents. If you know that you don’t have the best insurance for your current situation, shop around and find the best insurance agent for you.
You’ll save money, stress, and time when you go to an insurance agent.
If you’re interested, talk to us! At LoPriore, we’re dedicated to finding you the best insurance options. Contact us to learn all about switching your insurance and get help with purchasing the perfect policy.