Insurance can be a complicated purchase. You’re not buying bread or milk. You’re buying a promise of protection that could potentially make or break your financial well-being. How do you know that you’re making the right choices about coverage? Are you sure you’re getting the best possible value for your dollar? The options can seem bewildering.
Mutual Benefit has sold its coverage exclusively through independent agents for over 100 years. We’ve seen first-hand how the advice and advocacy of agents benefit our policyholders. Here are seven reasons why we believe the independent agency experience benefits you:
They give you a choice – Independent agents represent many different insurance companies that offer a wide variety of coverage options and price points. Most on average sell for five to eight different insurance companies. There’s no need for you to accept one quote from one company, and there’s no need for you to spend time filling out many different online applications to get your own quote comparisons. With their connections and their knowledge of the market, agents can often find a better value for your insurance dollar than you might find searching on your own. Agents do the shopping. You do the saving. They find you the right blend of price, coverage, and service.
They are licensed experts – Independents can explain the complexities of insurance in simple terms, helping you make smart decisions. They make a career out of assessing their customers’ insurance needs and matching them with the insurance carrier best equipped to meet those needs at a price the customer can afford. Think about it. While you might research wording for wills on the Internet, you’ll likely go to an attorney to ensure that the document is drawn up correctly. Why wouldn’t you seek the advice of a licensed insurance professional to be certain that your home, your auto, or your business is properly protected?
They are personal advisers – Agents not only find you competitive pricing, they make sure you are adequately covered. Working with you face-to-face, your agent becomes your personal adviser, taking the time to listen to you and understand your individual needs. They know it’s not just about finding a price you can afford; it’s also about making certain you are appropriately covered so that you don’t end up insurance-poor if you do suffer a loss.
They are your advocate – If you have a billing or claim concern, or need to change your coverage, your agent can be your advocate, working with the insurance company on your behalf.
They are right around the corner – Independent agents are your neighbors…they share your interest in the community where you live, and understand the benefits and challenges of living in your locale. They are often highly involved in the community, sponsoring youth sports teams, buying from your local businesses, supporting school organizations, and voicing opinions at the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting. They are right around the corner, ready to help.
They offer one-stop shopping – Independent agents can often meet all of your insurance needs with the companies they represent, providing auto, home, renter’s, and business coverage. Many offer life and health insurance as well.
They are consultants for a lifetime – Independent agents periodically review your coverage. They are there to help you through all the changes in your life, whether you’re going from renting an apartment to buying a home, starting a business, getting married, renovating your home, adding a teen driver to your auto policy, or looking to cover that retirement condo.
When you purchase your car insurance through a local agent or broker, you’ll be working with someone who is familiar with your state and city, as well as the full offerings of the companies they represent.
Local Agents Know the Local Risk Profile
While a company representative in another city might have access to your state’s insurance laws, a local agent knows your community and your specific needs.
Because she works directly with drivers in your community, she knows the most common claims that come across her desk, which gives her a distinctly local — and very helpful — point of view about the types of insurance recommended for drivers in your city and your neighborhood.
Your Local Agent Is There for You
You’ve seen the television ads for the big companies, with local insurance agents showing up at the scene of the accident to dispense comfort and advice. While that’s not a very realistic view of an agent’s role, it’s far closer to reality when you buy insurance through a local agent.
Your local agent is in a position to offer a level of service you won’t get from a voice on the phone on the other side of the country. You might find that:
Dealing directly with a car insurance agent will give you peace of mind. Many subscribers find comfort in dealing with a face rather than a computer screen when addressing questions about billing, claims, and policy issues.
You can develop a working relationship with an agent, so you feel like a person rather than just a policy number.
An agent can better customize an insurance package based on your needs and assets.
If you’re confused about policies, or are unsure about how much car insurance to carry, it can help to talk to an agent.
Types of Auto Insurance Agents
Before you choose a particular insurance agent, you should also understand the differences between types of insurance agents. In general, you’ll encounter 3 types of agents:
Captive agents sell insurance for a single insurance provider. Because a captive agent is appointed by only one company, he should know the ins and outs of the company and ways to save money.
Independent insurance agents sell policies for multiple companies. An independent agent can help you compare rates and coverage from many different insurers.
Insurance brokers are independent agents who sells insurance but not on behalf of an insurer. Brokers represent customers, not companies and may charge the customer a fee for their service.
What About Buying Car Insurance Online?
The Internet has made everything easier, including buying car insurance from local agents. Most agents have an online presence these days.
They may have their own website, and are probably associated with multiple car insurance search sites. For example, certain insurance websites have tools that allow you to search for independent agents from their site.
Get the Best Car Insurance Quotes
Whether you call your local agent or compare quotes online, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most accurate quotes and the best car insurance for your needs.
Have your information ready. You’ll need your license and registration information, as well as some demographic information that will help the agent understand your needs.
Research possible car insurance discounts beforehand and always ask whether you qualify for more.
Know the minimum insurance you need for your situation, but be open to the agent’s recommendations.