Independent Insurance Agents: How we can help you the most!

Independent insurance agents are becoming one of the best kept secrets of the insurance industry.

Independent Agent

The Trusted Source for Independent Agents

While we are bombarded with cute TV commercials, witty billboards, and ear-catching radio announcements from direct writer insurance companies promising to save us $400 on our current insurance rates, we are forgetting about our advocates, the independent insurance agents.  These individuals are there to make sure that saving $400 does not jeopardize our insurance needs. Independent Agents are simply the best in the industry. Secure a quote today from an Independent Agent for the best policy and service.

First, let me explain the difference between a direct writer and an independent insurance agent.  A direct writer is an insurance company that solicits and services business directly with the public through its own employees, the mail, or the internet.  A great example of this is Geico.  On the other hand, an independent insurance agent is a licensed individual who typically represents multiple companies and acts as the middleman, negotiating insurance products and services on behalf of their clients with one or several of their available markets.  These agents have local offices where you can speak with someone face to face about your insurance needs.

The independent insurance agent can be your best friend when it comes to securing your insurance for many reasons:

  1. Independent insurance agents do all the work for you.  Independent   insurance agents can check several markets for you to ensure you have the best premiums and plan provisions available to you based on your information and specific needs.  You  only have to give the information once, and they take it from there.  It’s like having your own personal  shopper for insurance.
  2. Independent insurance agents are a  one-stop-shop.  By having access  to multiple insurance markets, you can typically secure coverage for your  home, auto, boat, life, small business, neighborhood HOA, vacant land, and whatever else you may need, all through one agency.  You would have just one contact for all your insurance even though it all may not be with the same insurance company.  Even as your insurance  needs change, you can stay with your same agent; they just may need to go  to another one of their markets.
  3. Every policy is different.  So as if it’s not hard enough to know  what insurance you need to buy (i.e. a dwelling fire versus a homeowners  policy), you also have to understand the little nuances between each  insurance company to make sure you are insured properly.  Some carriers include earthquake  coverage in their covered perils, while others exclude it.  Since South Carolina sits a fault line,  wouldn’t it be nice to know if earthquakes were a covered peril on your policy?
  4. Independent insurance agents deliver  outstanding service.  When you  have a coverage question or worse, you need to report a claim, do you want  to call a 1-800 number, follow voice prompts for 10 minutes, and finally speak with someone in a call center a million miles away?  By having an independent agent, you’ll  get to speak with a live person that you know and trust right off.  Your agent can quickly help you with a  tricky coverage question or get you the assistance you need for a  claim.  You may say, “But what if I  need something after hours?”  Policy  changes can always wait until the next business day as policies allow a  grace period to report changes. As far as claims are concerned, you can always call in claims directly to your insurance company if you do not want to wait until the next morning.   Or if you have your agent’s cell phone number, you can always give  them a call.
  5. Insurance is complicated.  By going online and filling out some information for a direct writer insurance company, how do you know you are getting the proper coverage you need?   A great example is state minimum auto limits.  While minimum limits are appealing  because they are cheap and are all that are required, they typically are  not enough.  In South Carolina, our  minimum limits are $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident for bodily  injury and $25,000 for property damage.  Think how quickly those limits would be exhausted in a head on  collision involving two cars where 2 people had to go to the      hospital.  This is where an   independent agent can help guide you to what is best for you.

While there are many positives to using an independent insurance agent, I have to be honest that agents are human, and mistakes can happen.  When this happens, you do have options such as contacting the Department of Insurance or filing a claim against that agency’s Errors and Omissions insurance (similar to a doctor’s malpractice insurance).  It is not necessarily what you want to do, but at least you have options.  If you secure the coverage yourself and are not adequately covered, you have only yourself to blame.

Also, not all independent insurance agents are created equal.  Each agency has access to different insurance carriers, some more than others.  Also, different people work at different agencies so you need to find an agent and agency you feel comfortable with and trust.  You are going to be sharing personal information with that individual and you want to make sure you are okay with that.  Think of your insurance agent as a trusted advisor just like you do your accountant or lawyer.  An independent insurance agent should be there for you and your needs!

 

About Joe Popkowski