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How Can I Tell If I Am Dealing With A Reputable Insurance Agent?

With all the competition for your car insurance business, it is not surprising that a number of new companies are popping up with promise low prices for great insurance coverage. However, some of these companies turn out to be less than reputable. They may not pay claims in a timely manner or try to fool you into signing a policy with far more exclusions than you bargained for.

A few unscrupulous individuals may even engage in false advertising scams to take in your hard- earned money without giving you proper insurance coverage in exchange.

How can you tell if you are dealing with a reputable company and agent? Here is a checklist of things that “real” insurance agents do as a matter of course. Be sure that your new agent is following these guidelines:

  1. A good agent always gives you options. Beware of agents who try to steer you toward a particular product or company, and do not outline other choices. This is a good sign that an agent has an agenda other than the best insurance coverage for you. Of course, some agents, known as “dedicated agents” only work for one company. Most State Farm agents, for example, offer only State Farm products. However, even dedicated agents should give you options within the structure of their insurance policy types.
  2. A good agent explains all the paperwork clearly. Insurance policies are rather complicated, and include several major components. A policy is actually a legal contract between you and an insurance company. The company agrees to cover you and you agree to pay for this coverage. You also agree not to perform certain actions, such as driving under the influence of alcohol, or you may forfeit your coverage. It is important to read all parts of your policy, as well as ask any questions about items which are unclear to you, before you sign. A reputable agent always allows you to ask questions, answers them, and the countersigns the policy in your presence. A countersignature is the agent’s commitment to your policy. You should receive a copy of the policy with the agent’s countersignature.
  3. A good agent freely offers you all applicable discounts. One of the agent’s jobs is to inform you of discounts for which you are eligible. While it is to be expected that agents want to make money for their companies, a good agent will always be honest with you about discounts you qualify for. After all, being honest is the best way to keep your business!
  4. A good agent will protect your rights if you are involved in an accident. While it is technically the insurance company’s job to handle claims, not the agent’s, a good agent will support you in any accident situation and put you in touch with the right people at the company’s headquarters. If you were hit by another car through no fault of your own, your agent can help you communicate with the other driver’s insurance company and find the information you need to file your claim. If the accident was your fault, your agent can keep you informed of the progress of both yours and the other person’s claims.
  5. A good agent will work with you to keep your coverage and deductibles at manageable levels. The hallmark of a good agent is one who balances your needs with the desire of the company to make money. The agent who helps you determine when to drop unneeded coverage and helps you determine the right amount of deductible to keep your payments affordable is the agent you want.

No agent or company is perfect, but good ones have characteristics which are easy to recognize. As you shop for insurance, be sure that your agent meets the requirements to give you great service!