Ads for large insurance companies dominate TV and social media. It can feel overwhelming to choose an insurance agent for your needs. How do you select the person that will serve you the best? Read on for tips and tricks to help.
The independent agent team at Lake Region Insurance Agency has served Greater Minnesota with integrity for over 40 years. We stand tall on our community values and work tirelessly for our clients, not the big insurance companies.
Call or come in for a free policy review and insurance quote. We’re always excited to find our neighbors the right coverage at a fair price.
Direct vs. Independent Agents: It Pays to Have Choices
Insurance companies like State Farm and American Family have agents who sell their policies directly to clients. These so-called direct or captive agents can only sell plans from their affiliate companies.
Working with a direct agent is what many people are familiar with, but it significantly limits your options. Direct agents are called “captive” for a reason. They are unable to look elsewhere for policies that will serve you better.
Choosing an independent agent means you are their first focus, not one particular company. They can shop the market for you to discover which policies offer you the highest coverage for the best price.
Policy language can be challenging to sift through when it’s not your full-time job. A good agent takes the guesswork out of researching and buying a plan.
Tips for Choosing an Insurance Agent You Can Trust
Whether you decide to use a captive or independent agent, there are certain things to consider as you make your choice. Here are five tips to keep in mind.
1. Determine Your Insurance Needs
Many insurance agencies specialize in specific policy types. While they can have expertise in those plans, they may not have the breadth of knowledge you need.
For example, if you run a small business out of your home, you could need any of the following types of coverage:
- Commercial Auto
- Professional Liability
- Cyber Liability
Anyone on your list of agent candidates should be able to handle all your coverage needs. Bundling all of your policies with one independent agent simplifies the process and usually saves you money.
It’s crucial for your agent to know about your professional and personal needs. With this information, they can search for policy options that may serve you better as your life changes.
2. Choose Someone Responsive
Insurance agents are people too. As with any collaboration, your personalities will dictate the comfort you feel with your agent. Be sure to find someone that puts you at ease and listens to your input and questions.
The insurance world can be funny. You may go months or years without requiring any changes in your policies. And then you suddenly can find yourself needing immediate help with your insurance needs.
Be sure to choose someone responsive to your questions and will return calls and emails quickly. When you have life changes, you should be able to get information and help from your agent within a reasonable time.
At a minimum, your agent should:
- Return phone calls within 24 hours or less.
- Have a pleasant and helpful demeanor.
- Make a concerted effort to understand your needs, basic history, and life goals.
- Check in with you to see if you’ve experienced any major life or business changes.
3. Ask Plenty of Questions
Hopefully, you will be building a long-term relationship with the agent you choose. So it’s vital that you get as much information about how they work as possible. Some important things to ask when choosing an insurance agent include:
- What is their client retention rate? If the number is low or the agent isn’t forthcoming with the information, that should raise a red flag.
- Do they have a team of support staff? A solo agent who doesn’t have any help may be an insurance expert. But if they get sick or aren’t available, you could end up stuck without the help you need.
- How quickly do they return emails and phone calls?
- How long have they been in business?
- How often do they schedule insurance reviews?
- Do they work nationwide? If you tend to move homes a lot, try to find an agent who can still work with you even if you are not in their state.
4. Check Qualifications and Complaints
Make sure your potential insurance agent holds a license to sell policies in your state. Ask an agent about their experience and education before making any policy decisions. Some agents have insurance certifications that are pertinent to your needs. This training could make them better suited for you than others might be.
In addition to checking an agent’s qualifications, find out if there are complaints before choosing an insurance agent. Check with your state’s oversight office to see if the agent or agency has been the subject of lawsuits, complaints, or disciplinary actions.
5. Compare Quotes
Before settling on an agent, compare quotes from several representatives. Look at the deductibles and fine print so that you get a clear picture of what the proposed insurance coverage will include. If an agent doesn’t give you a quote without your promise to work with them, walk away.
Lake Region Insurance Agency: The Independent Team to Trust
We are proud at Lake Region to have a 98% customer retention rate. We work hard to serve our clients with integrity, kindness, and the highest level of expertise. With offices in Willmar, Cokato, and New London, MN, we are ready to go to work for you.
It’s a pleasure to watch our clients thrive and prosper. And it’s an honor to earn their trust as we meet their evolving insurance needs. As independent agents, we always have your best interest in mind as we search for the perfect policies.
Reach out and connect today to see how we can help you and your family have the protection you deserve.