Have you ever needed the help of a professional for a service in which you have little or no experience? Tasks such as a home or auto repair seem complicated to those who are not experienced in those professions. Shopping for personal health insurance plans can be complicated as well. Consider these reasons for using a professional broker or agent.
Professional service with no fees – Insurance agents and brokers are paid by commissions from insurance companies.
The cost of those commissions is already built into the price of the policy, therefore, you will pay no more than if you had gone directly to the insurance company without the services of an agent. An experienced agent can help you determine which type of coverage will work best for you or your family. The agent can also assist with helping to select a deductible amount, co-pay amounts and whether or not to purchase optional benefits such as maternity or dental insurance. Once a decision regarding the coverage is made, the agent can be a valuable resource in helping complete the application and with the underwriting process. Using the services of a professional comes at no additional cost to the customer.
Service after the sale – Insurance brokers are motivated to provide good service after the sale. Questions may come up regarding your coverage or changes may need to be made to your plan. Having a broker handle those little details for you is a valuable resource. Examples of some simple service issues include answering questions about your policy, adding a dependent to the plan, making changes such as address and telephone number or ordering you a new identification card.
What type of broker should you look for? Here are some important features to consider when searching for a broker:
Experience – The value of experience cannot be purchased. Brokers that have many years of experience will be able to guide you in the proper direction and help you avoid problems. Experienced agents have seen nearly every situation that may come up and can guide the customer so that potential problems will be avoided.
Independent – Look for a broker that represents many competitive companies from which to shop for your coverage. Captive brokers can only use a single insurance company and should be avoided. An independent agent is working for the customer rather than the insurance company.
Professional – While looks can sometimes be deceiving, it is important to locate a broker that runs a professional business. This usually means having an office location in which to do business along with sufficient staff to service their customers.
Reputation-There is nothing wrong with asking for references when looking for an insurance agent. You need to know the reputation that the agent has within the community and the level of satisfaction that customers have with the agent in question.
Local – There is nothing more frustrating than to need service from a large company and having nothing more than a customer service phone number to work with. All of us have experienced the phone maze of recordings and out-sourcing of services departments. Having the services of a local broker that can personally be of help is very valuable. There are times when it’s important to sit across the desk and look the person in the eye with whom you are conducting business.
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