Independent Agent or Online Insurance Service?
Why should you choose an Independent Agent over an online insurance service? It’s all similar, right? It’s all just insurance in the end. Well…maybe, maybe not. It’s too important of a choice to gamble on, only to find out in the event of a loss that you either don’t have the coverage or can’t get the service you need. You might want to consider some of the advantages of having an independent agent versus online insurance services that may or may not have your best interests at hand.
An independent agent is able to give you varieties, where an online provider may be limited to just one particular brand of insurance. Independent agents represent multiple brands and are able to offer you a variety of selections when it comes to insurance. Instead of getting one quote for your home or condo, an independent agent can offer you three or four quotes for comparison shopping. They will give you the carrier’s financial rating and let you know how they respond to claims.
In general, independent agents are vested members of the local community. These agents are committed individuals who can talk with you face-to-face and will act as your supporter when needed.
They will also:
Assist you in the event of a claim
Work with you to determine your needs
Review coverages annually to be sure you are adequately insured
Find the best value in terms of pricing, service and coverages offered
Offer a variety of products to meet your insurance needs (think one-stop shopping for home, auto, health, etc.)
Provide courteous and friendly service
Treat you like a person and not a number
In contrast, take a look at some of the common drawbacks of online insurance programs:
Insurance is state-specific. Not all online insurers are obligated to provide your state’s benefits
Lack of personal relationship
Difficulty navigating insurance company phone system or website
No duty to advise a policyholder of coverage adequacy
Financial ratings not always disclosed
No personal advocate to act on your behalf
Lack of knowledge when dealing with call centers
May or may not be licensed Customer Service Representatives or Agents
It is important to note that most online carriers will require you to sign or execute a Waiver of Liability, which releases them from liability arising out of your use of their website. For example, if you are confused by the layout of the website and unintentionally enter the wrong limits, you have no recourse. You cannot sue the insurance carrier. If they decide to publish your social security number or other personal information, you are barred from bringing suit against them.
An apparent advantage of having an independent agent is you can most likely have all your coverages in one place. You don’t need to have auto insurance here, homeowners there and flood insurance yet somewhere else.
Also, if your insuring company terminates coverage at renewal or if your annual premium takes a huge climb, an independent agent will shop for you to find another company that is comparable and at the best price available. You don’t need to find a new agent!
Most importantly, independent agents are licensed professionals. Providing excellent customer service is the key to their livelihood. They are trusted members of the local community and can be trusted with your business!