Insurance brokers and agents are trusted with fitting their clients into suitable life, health, homeowners & business policies to name a few.
There are numerous insurance providers and they are not all the same. It’s important that the broker you choose is well-versed in policy differences from company to company and informed of the latest news, trends, and products. He/she also needs to be concerned with your personal planning needs and capable of explaining your options in a way you can understand.
Follow these tips on what to look for in finding a right insurance broker or agent:
TIP 1: Knowledge and experience: There is no substitute for experience! Look for brokers that have been in their field for a minimum of 5 years. Proficient brokers will usually also have advanced planning designations (insurance degrees) next to their names. Look for at least one of the following 3 designations: CLU (chartered life underwriter) CFP (certified financial planner) or CSA (certified senior advisor).
TIP 2: Independent brokers, not agents: This may be counter-intuitive. In reality, independent brokers are in a better position to help you than “captive agents”. The independent broker represents numerous insurance companies and must be well-versed on all their policies in order to find the best one for you. The captive agent (i.e. Allstate or New York Life) often promote their own company products first in order to qualify for their company-sponsored trips and subsidized health insurance. Make sure your broker places your needs before their own!
TIP 3: Fee structure: Most of the established independent brokers don’t charge a fee for time and/or services. They receive compensation from whichever insurance company you decide to do business with. Beware of agents/planners and advisors that charge steep upfront consultation fees.
TIP 4: Get a second opinion: Most people are already working with an agent/broker. Do yourself a favor and get a second opinion using the tips given in this article. You will be surprised at what you can learn from a free consultation with an independent broker.
TIP 5: Due diligence: Invest the time to call 2 or 3 brokers. Start a small list and ask around. Friends, family or colleagues that are satisfied with their broker are a good place to start. Check for their presence and reviews on the internet and gather as much information as possible.