All insurance agencies are not the same.  In fact, they can be vastly different.  I won’t go into what makes a bad insurance agency.  However, let’s go over what you need to make sure the agency you use for your insurance fulfills your requirements and needs.

First and foremost, your insurance agent needs to be experienced in the lines of business you need to have insured.   An experienced agent should review and explain every possible risk exposure you may have and not just sell you a policy.  A good agent will explain your needs in language you can understand.   As time goes on your insurance needs will change and the agent needs to ask you on-going questions as your policy renews.  This is to make sure you are always properly insured; and if nothing else, he will give you options.   As an example, don't call a low-cost auto insurance agency for your homeowners’ insurance and expect that agency to know detailed coverage options you may need.  As well that auto agent most likely cannot answer life insurance or business insurance needs you may have.   Over the years I have seen inexperienced agents not cover a client properly by selling a "stripped down" policy to lower a rate were those coverages may have been added without any additional premium.

Secondly, you need to find an independent insurance agency.  The captive agencies such as "State Farm" and "Allstate" do not carry the variety of companies that are needed to make sure you are getting the best coverage for your premium.  Independent Agencies act as brokers for you.  They carry a wide variety of companies and can "shop" insurance companies as for their clients’ needs.  As companies’ rates change or the strength of a company diminishes, an Independent Agent can move your policy to a different company when it is for the best interest of their client(s).  Over time your insurance needs will change and a strong independent agency will have the ability to adjust your insurance accordingly. 

Thirdly, use an insurance agency "where you live". This is most important because out-of-state or even outside your county may not have the knowledge regarding what companies have the available coverages for your specific area. For example, the agent will have expert understanding of new flood mapping and rate changes.  Finding a knowledgeable, local, independent agency will save you aggravation, time and money!


By Jason Miller

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