Monday, January 12, 2009

Finding the right insurance agent or broker

How do you find the right agent? First, understand the difference between captive and independent agents. A captive agent sells one company's insurance products. An independent agent represents multiple companies, which should allow him or her to combine coverages and service to meet your insurance needs and price target. If you own a business, consider your insurance agent as a new business partner. For example, look for someone who understands your business, the types of products sold, services offered and competitors. If your insurance is business related, consider your company's size and agent's size. If your business has multi-state operations, choose an agent who also operates in more than one state and is equipped to provide services, such as loss control assistance. Also use the State Department of Insurance to verify an agent's license. One sign of a top-notch agent is whether he asks many questions concerning your business and insurance needs. He also should be able to carefully explain policy details, including limitations and exclusions. Additionally, it might be helpful to ask a potential agent: What steps does the agency take to deliver insurance quotes quickly? How does the agency ensure that claims are handled properly? What insurance companies does the agency represent, and what are these companies' financial ratings? Does the agency protect itself against errors and omissions that it makes with proper liability coverage? In answering your questions, the right insurance agent should illustrate an understanding of your needs, as well as win trust by demonstrating that your interests are his priority.

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