Is My Insurance Broker/Agent Good? How to Evaluate Your Insurance Agent/Broker in the Internet Age
Whether you are looking for your first agent to cover a new personal item like a car or house; or you feel like you need to upgrade because you started a business, it's always nice to have several choices. Here are some of my thoughts on what to look for.
What is an insurance Broker/Agent
Your broker/agent is someone who serves as a "buyer's guide'. They help you with the application process, gather/compare quotes, and consult on the best options for you.
It is similar to how realtors help people purchase real estate.
An agent is often bound to one insurance carrier while a broker works with many insurance companies.
You want to make sure your agent/broker is:
Licensed — Make sure the agent is licensed and the quotes they provide are from a licensed insurance carrier in your state. You can do this by:
Asking your agent for a copy of their license.
Call your state's insurance department or click "License Look up" on their website
To check the carrier's licensing information you can use NAIC or AM Best
Credentialed — You know when you see CPA, PHD, or MBA behind someone's name and you think "Oh wow, they must be smart". Well the insurance industry has their own designations/credentials. If you ever see CIC, CPCU, ARM, etc. ask your agent/broker what this means and how they got them.
Complaints — This one is obvious. Are they reputable? Do they have good customer service? Maybe you have a friend or family member that has used this agency or agent before? You can always check Google Reviews, Yelp, Facebook, your local insurance department, NAIC's CIS, or the Better Business Bureau.
Financial Strength of the Carrier— When evaluating a carrier you also want to check its company financial rating. Stay away from carriers below B+ https://www.atlas-mag.net/en/article/am-best-rating-scale
Service timeline - Do they present, follow, or perform any physical service other than an annual review or quote analysis? Often advanced brokers can help with employee training, OSHA & DOT consulting, enterprise risk management, HR compliance, contract risk, avoiding fines, driver safety, etc. If you can't name the service, than they aren't doing it. Simply saying we offer risk management and claims consulting doesn't cut it.
Technology - Do they have electronic signature capability, online payment capability, electronic policy delivery, a mobile app, online portal, etc. Or are they still utilizing pen & paper applications and snail mail?
Industry Specific Knowledge - Does your agent have other customers similar to your business? Or are they a generalist writing anything on main street? Often it is beneficial to have someone who understands your industry and the operational issues specific to that industry.
If you need help evaluating your agent/broker, feel free to reach out.