In the world of online shopping and buy-by-the-price insurance coverage, why bother working with an Independent Agent? Although this method of shopping can be convenient and you don’t need to understand your insurance coverage to make a purchase, what are you sacrificing in exchange for the low price, simple coverage, computerized contact, and a phone app that can provide you with your latest ID card?
What is an “Independent Agent”?
This term is frequently referenced in news, blogs, and insurance related media, but what does it really mean? An Independent Agent will work on your behalf to connect you with a company and coverage that offers you the best value. Independent Agents are not contracted to work with a single insurance company and can offer you knowledgeable service on the coverage packages offered by many different companies. This type of customer/agent relationship offers you personalized service, selection, representation, and a one-stop shop for all of your insurance needs.
A benefit to working with an Independent Agent in your local area is that this agent can better relate to you as an individual. The local agent can recommend local repair shops, rental car companies, post-claim cleanup services, and locations to help with your registration and licensing inquiries. Not only this, as your relationship grows the agent becomes a neighbor and networking asset who can discuss local restaurants, shops, community events, and business opportunities. A local agent will likely have an individual, or a few individuals, who service your policy. These folks work hard to get to know you so that each time you call or visit the office, the professional relationship that has been created can grow as your agent becomes a trusted advocate.
Company & Coverage Selection
You can probably join the majority in admitting that you have no clue what that gibberish on the Declarations page means. Insurance can seem like another language without someone to interpret it for you! A local Independent Agent can sit down and explain your coverage so that you will understand why you are paying for the coverage you have selected. Let’s be real – nobody wants to pay for something that seems useless!
Although coverage selection is important, the most integral decision is which company you are choosing to work with. Most companies offer similar coverage choices, but an agent who works with a wide variety of carriers will be familiar with each company’s customer service, claims service, rate fluctuations, and overall character. When a customer is looking for specific qualities in an insurance carrier, an Independent Agent can sort through the options to find the best fit! Some companies will offer extraordinary claims service but they may not have the cheapest prices. Other companies will have super cheap prices, but less than average customer service. An Independent Agent takes your wish list and does the shopping for you so that you can have confidence in your insurance company.
Who hates sitting on hold to ask a billing question? Or perhaps you despise the fake customer service representative that doesn’t connect you to the correct department. Who wants to talk to a computerized voice after a house fire or a traumatizing hit and run? Certainly not the majority of us! An Independent Agent is a valuable asset because they truly work for you! Captive Agents, who work exclusively to represent one company, must keep their loyalties with the company they represent. Your Independent Agent is not tied to a single insurance carrier and will work on your behalf to make sure you get the best service! Calling your local agent with a billing question, coverage inquiry, or claim report gives you a direct link to someone who can sit on hold for you, navigate the company directory for you, and give your immediate advice on how to proceed. Rarely will you have to wait on hold, talk to a computer, or feel like you have to confront the company all by yourself. The Independent Agent works for you!
A One-Stop Shop
The journey of life leads us down many different paths and each can bring changes and challenges! Sometimes, these changes and challenges can affect your insurance. Perhaps you were involved in a fender bender, your child gets a driver’s license, or you acquire a new vehicle. Not all changes are bad ones – but they can still lead to challenges like an increase in premium or dissatisfaction with your coverage. An Independent Agent has the knowledge and skill to walk by your side through those changes and advise you on which paths might lead you back to a place where you are comfortable and covered! Your agent may recommend a coverage reduction, addition, or acquisition of additional policies so that you have the right amount of coverage to suit life’s changes. When big changes occur like the purchase of a new home, your agent might even suggest a different company that will be better suited for your new situation. The Independent Agent doesn’t just meet your basic coverage needs, they give you options!
An Independent Agent is not a good fit for individuals who prefer the impersonal, computerized way to purchase and maintain insurance coverage. However, many have found great satisfaction and service by using a local Independent Agent. If you think this might be a good fit for you, give your local agent a call! Most agents will review your current coverage, analyze your exposures, and offer you some quotes for FREE! It certainly cannot hurt, only take a few minutes, and you might find yourself with the group of individuals who love working with their local Independent Agent!
For more information about Independent Agents check out these blogs by Selective Insurance and Cincinnati Insurance (two companies who rely only on Independent Agents for their policy sales and maintenance).
Faherty, Kirsten. “The Benefits of Working with an Independent Agent – The Cincinnati Insurance Companies Blog.” The Cincinnati Insurance Companies Blog. Cincinnati Financial Corporation, 07 July 2016. Web. 08 July 2016. Retrieved from <http://blog.cinfin.com/2016/07/07/agent-model-benefits/>.
“Here’s Why You Can Depend On Independent Agents.” Home, Auto, Business & Flood Insurance Solutions: Selective. Selective Insurance Group, Inc., 01 July 2016. Web. 08 July 2016. Retrieved from <https://www.selective.com/info-center/resource-center/for-your-information?news=heres-why-you-can-depend-on-independent-agents>.