The word alone usually shuts people’s interest down. Did you know one of the most searched things on the internet is insurance? It’s true! Why? Frankly it is because very few people actually understand it and they are searching for information. For some, all they know is cheaper is better, but when you ask them what kind of insurance they got they honestly don’t know what is covered and what is not. I have only been in and around the industry since 1979, but I’ve been able to pick up a thing or two along the way and I would like to share some observations with you that you may find to be of value.
The top 3 things people say they want from their insurance provider are that they be Knowledgeable, Honest and Friendly.
Insurance knowledge is very important because regardless of the reason you seek insurance for, what you are really getting is a promise. The promise that you will get what you are entitled to in an “at need” or “claim” situation. Knowledge is what will guide you to the right cost/coverage scenario up front. The knowledge that your insurance provider – who is also your claims advocate – possesses is often the difference maker in seeing that the promise made is properly kept. If what people seek most on the internet is knowledge then your insurance provider should be a good listener and a good educator.
Honesty ranks at the top firstly because you are entrusting that person with the welfare of your most financially valuable asset(s). If you do not know and trust your insurance provider, then you are with the wrong insurance provider. It actually is that simple! No one likes to be overcharged. You need to have someone you trust looking out for your best interest. You need someone that will tell you the hard news too, not just the bells and whistles. When the chips are down you need someone you can rely on to see you through the tough times. Your insurance provider owes a duty to you to be quick, kind and correct. I recommend that you be mindful of these points when choosing your provider.
Friendliness is also on the high end of the importance scale partly because everyone likes to have pleasant experiences especially when they are doing something that is outside of their comfort and knowledge zone. Friendliness is also a measure of the professionalism, confidence and competence of your insurance broker. A telemarketer from a foreign land, reading off a script is hard to trust and difficult to gauge on the honesty scale. A savvy consumer should ask pertinent questions expecting knowledgeable and, complete answers delivered in a cheerful manner.
Our industry has many methods of distribution. Among the choices are: brokers, agents, direct writers, bank owned distributors and website distributors. All of them have pros and cons, but the value proposition of having a local independent broker actually trumps all the rest. Contemplate the following points:
There has been more change in the insurance industry in the last 5 years than in the previous 50 years.
Insurance companies go through claims thousands of times each year. Clients may only see a claim once or twice in a lifetime. The lucky ones never do. Given the contrasting levels of experience, who do you think is better at claims? Who is your advocate? Are you with the right insurance broker?
Agents have but one company that they sell for. Not much choice for you.
Direct writers occasionally cost slightly less. They make bigger profits by not having a location, paying taxes or having employees in your community. They are not part of your community. More often than not they have a narrow scope of what they can cover and they cannot be with you in a claim situation since their service is delivered from some far off land. Generally direct writer services are delivered from a call center or online. If you don’t fit in one of the slot scenarios they have or have any uniqueness to your situation, solutions could be a long way off. You would largely be on your own, so what did you pay them for?
Bank owned insurance distributors, similar to direct writers do nothing for your community as they are legally prohibited from selling from their banking branches due the conflict of interest. It is considered coercive selling when an institution has control of a consumer’s finances and proposes to have them buy insurance from the bank as well. This is deemed an unfair practice as it diminishes the consumer’s right to make an unencumbered choice. Banks are similar to Agents in that they have very few options to choose from and most often only have capability of dealing with the simplest insurance transactions.
When I refer to web insurance distributors, I am referring to “web only” distributors. There is obviously nothing wrong with doing business on the World Wide Web. In fact I’m a big fan. However a lot of the same principals apply. Will they stand beside you and advocate for you in a claim situation? Do they support your community by paying taxes, employing your friends and neighbors, supporting your community’s needs with their profits?
My recommendation is that a knowledgeable, trustworthy, friendly, locally owned independent broker is the best value proposition for your peace of mind as well as financially. They live and work in your community. They create jobs here and supporting community initiatives. As a broker they offer the choice of many insurance companies, not just one. They will be an advocate for you and stand with you in your moment of need should a claim happen. I would choose a broker that is capable of doing business with you in whatever way you want to do it. This can be in person at their office, or at your home or business, via phone, fax, e-mail or web. Look for an interactive chat feature that connects you to an experienced broker. The most progressive brokerages now have their own free App that is downloadable and connects you anywhere, at any time, instantly to all your information right when you need it.