Five Qualities Your Agent Should Possess to
do the Kind of Job You Deserve
If you're still not comfortable purchasing auto insurance without an agent,
me explain how to select a qualified agent.
1. Does the agent
have at least five years experience?
The last person you want as an insurance agent is a new agent. Not that
or she wouldn't make a good agent, it's just that because of the way the
changing you want one with experience. You not only want an agent with
in the insurance industry, but preferably with the company you have selected.
five year time frame gives the agent valuable experience and also shows
the part of the agent which is very important. In addition, it adds to
the agent's credibility with the insurance company. If a problem was to
arise, an experienced
agent may be able to do things for you that a new agent could not do.
If any agent
could make a difference, it would be the experienced agent. However, as
insurance companies, the agent has virtually no say as to what the company
In most cases, the insurance company will move faster for you than for
Usually a complaint made by the consumer directly to the company will
greater attention than an agent trying to solve the same problem. Many
told a customer that I've done all that I can, why not call the company
Guess what? They were able to get the problem resolved with one phone
call that I
couldn't resolve with many calls. The consumer's voice has clout!
2. Is the Agent an Award Winning or Superstar Agent?
If you walk into a prospective agent's office and see numerous plaques
wall, chances are you may want to select another agent. The main reason
for this is
most property and casualty companies push their life insurance products
auto insurance buyer, via the auto insurance agent. Most, if not all awards,
life insurance production. I can't remember the last time there was an
production contest. What's wrong with awards for life insurance production
may ask? Let me take this opportunity to explain what I believe is wrong
Most major insurance companies keep their agency force for the purpose
selling life insurance to their auto insurance customers. Usually their
far more expensive than life only companies. If you want to purchase life
you are far better off going to someone who is a life insurance broker
and can shop
rates for you. There are several brokers that use 800 numbers, and with
phone call, can supply you with five or more quotes from top rated companies
greatly reduced prices. They can do this because they have cut out the
the agent. Major casualty and life companies with agents pay commissions
as 100% or more of the first year's premium plus smaller percentages for
beyond that time frame. It's expensive for an agent to come to your home
to sell you
a policy; and you're paying a much higher premium for that service!
I believe in life insurance but you need to do some careful shopping before
you buy. Usually term insurance is the best for the money.
So back to my original point. If the agent is a top award winner, you
almost bet at some point you will be pressured to buy life insurance.
many people buy these inferior life insurance products that are not always
meet their needs from this type of agent. It makes a person of conscience
knowing what is taking place. Many people who have bought these policies
prior agents have said to me, "I don't know why I bought the policy."
I too, have
wondered the same!
3. Does the Agent Have an Office With Low Visibility?
You don't want an agent who has an office on a neighborhood corner or
shopping center. Generally, a high percentage of "walk in" business
is the least
desirable type of client an agent can have. If an agent has high exposure
in" business, he or she will be occupied with customers that require
a great deal of
time and attention, and the agent will experience a high turnover in his
or her customer
base. This type of clientele will cause the agent to do a greater amount
productive work, reducing time which could be better spent doing things
such as reviewing your account periodically to ensure your policies are
rated correctly, that you're receiving all the discounts you are entitled
to, and as things change in the company, you benefit from those changes.
An agent located in an office complex that is harder to locate is the
location. The major advantage to this location is "walk in"
business is almost non-
existent; therefore, the agent has more time to service your account because
problems listed above are eliminated. The other advantage is the agent
who is hard
to find by the casual shopper has to be a good agent in order to build
his or her
agency and survive. They have to build their agency by working hard and
excellent service! In many instances, the agent on the street corner lacks
incentive to go out and find new customers. They would rather wait for
to come to them. This attitude will be reflected in the quality of service
4. Does the Agent Have Proper Staffing?
You want to be sure the agent's office is properly staffed so that your
will be handled promptly and efficiently. Don't expect to be treated as
are the only customer, but in most cases, your call should be returned
business day or at least an attempt made by the agent or his or her staff
to do so.
Some signs of an improperly staffed office are as follows:
1) you're put on
hold for more than two minutes;
2) you get a recording or voice mail during business
3) you have delays in getting paperwork or claims processed in a timely
This is the type of office you want to avoid! The best way to detect
staffing is to visit the office personally and observe the general atmosphere
office. Does the environment seem hurried? Are calls waiting on hold?
desks look cluttered and unorganized, or is there a sense of calm and
should be obvious which type of office you would want to do business with!
5. Does the Agent Have Time to Personally Meet You?
If the prospective agent doesn't have time to meet with you personally,
are you may want to select another agent. While it's true that a staff
properly service your account in the future, you should meet the agent
you get a feel for what type of person he or she is. Remember, the staff's
and office environment are a reflection of the agent.
Additional Information On Agent Selection
What About Recommendations from Friends?
A recommendation from a friend is a good starting place. If your friend
happy with the agent, chances are you will be too. However, you would
be wise to
use due diligence as outlined in this section, and not go solely on the
Phone or Mail Solicitation
This is probably the worst way to buy auto or any other type of insurance.
Generally, you will find new agents doing this type of solicitation to
get started in the
business. There is nothing wrong with it, but you won't get the quality
you want. Let's face it, that's how I started, but that was over 20 years
would be better served using other methods to shop for your auto insurance,
the Internet, the use of 800 numbers, and other methods of discount mass
which are replacing the traditional methods of today.
Many times through error, inexperience or outright fraud, the agent
you an incorrect rate. When the policy is issued, you find the rate quoted
the rate of the issued policy is different! Has this ever happened to
you? Often it
turns out you would have been better off to have stayed with your prior
company than make the change. Some agents do this on purpose knowing that
most people, because of pride, will pay the higher price of the new company
than return to their prior insurance company. This kind of activity is
especially among new agents.
As I've said before, the days of the auto insurance agent are numbered,
so you might as well be prepared to do it yourself.
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