Up until the last decade, when you wanted to obtain auto insurance, homeowners insurance, or life insurance, your options were limited to obtaining insurance from insurance agents or brokers. Now, you have the option of obtaining insurance online without ever meeting with an agent face-to-face. While purchasing insurance online through an online provider can sometimes be faster and you might save a few dollars. Unless you are extremely knowledgeable in insurance, there’s a good chance that you won’t end up getting the amount and type of coverage that is appropriate for your needs. This is because there are so many different insurance options available and each person has such different needs because of their particular situation. When you are purchasing insurance, the goal is to get the coverage that is most appropriate for your situation at a price that you can afford. You don’t want to realize you are under-insured after the fact. To ensure that you are getting the right coverage, it is a good idea to identify some priorities in terms of what things are important to you regarding insurance.
Priorities to consider
Price – Everyone would like to save money, but you have to seriously think about what you might be giving up when you decide to save a few dollars. Is saving a few dollars worth missing out on great customer service or claims administration/handling? One policy may appear less expensive than another, but there may be important coverage differences or exclusions that are not immediately apparent, which actually make the other policy less expensive in terms of what you’re getting.
Customer Service – If customer service and/or claims handling are important to you, you have probably had some interactions with your insurance carrier’s customer service or claims representatives. If customer service and claims service are not important to you, you should ask yourself why. If you have ever been in a vehicle accident or suffered damage to your home, you have probably experienced your insurance carrier’s customer service and/or claims process and most likely interacted with their representatives. These interactions may have been positive or negative. Keep in mind that any good insurance agent will get involved in your claim and help you through the process, so that an unfortunate event such as having to file a claim is handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Location – Having to call a customer service number and speak to people whom you have never met, and then get passed from person to person, only to have to re-state your problem again and again, can be a very frustrating experience. If you have ever had a neighborhood or local insurance agent that you could visit in person, you already know that it is extremely convenient and gives you peace of mind that you simply can’t get from an online insurance provider, where you may never encounter the same person twice when you call with a question. Being able to sit across from someone or call them on the phone and always speak with the same person(s) is just a more reassuring, convenient, and appropriate way to discuss something as important as insurance.
Overview of insurance agents
When you obtain insurance through an insurance agent, you gain access to all of the different insurance products and carriers that the agent is licensed to sell, which is usually quite extensive. Because of this, you will most likely be able to get several of your policies from the same carrier, which results in significant discounts, better coverage, time saved, and less confusion for you.
While some people will argue that it’s faster and cheaper to just buy a policy online, remember that unless you are a licensed insurance agent or know a great deal about insurance, you aren’t going to get the type and amount of coverage that is appropriate for your particular situation. You have to make sure that the coverage that you think you’re getting is the coverage that you will actually be getting. Insurance agents are licensed by their state and becoming licensed requires being very knowledgeable in multiple areas of insurance and successfully passing one or more extremely difficult exams in order to demonstrate that knowledge. Insurance is a specialty, much like a lawyer practices law and a physician practices medicine. So unless you are an expert in the field of insurance, it just makes more sense to work with an insurance professional to make sure that you getting the coverage and service you need.