Schwartz Insurance Online Guide:
Insurance Brokers Add Value
“I’m busy and insurance is complicated. Make sure my coverage is correct, AND Help me save money."
When was the last time you had a conversation with your insurance agent about your current insurance needs? Maybe it’s been awhile since you purchased your personal insurance policies and then crossed that task off your “To Do” list.
Life keeps you busy with everyday responsibilities, from caring for your children and spouse to your aging parents. Your life is consumed with daily tasks and one of the last things you may think about is reviewing your insurance coverage to ensure you’re receiving the best value and the best coverage for your current needs.
Change is a Fact of Life
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except for death and taxes.” The wise Ben Franklin could have added another certainty. Nothing is really certain, except for death, taxes and change.
More than likely you’ve personally experienced many of life’s changes. Perhaps you’ve just graduated from college, landed your first full-time job, or bought your first new car. You may have just welcomed your first child into the world or purchased a new home.
Your life doesn’t remain static – and neither should your insurance – ideally, at each of life’s major milestones, you should take the opportunity to review your insurance coverage.
You have undoubtedly seen your insurance rates increase. These rate increases typically show up on your annual renewal policies with no explanation ... and no contact from your insurance agent. It is expected that YOU, the client, will generally accept these increases, with no questions asked. And, many clients do just that – they pay the increased expense and move on with their busy lives. Some rate increases may prompt you to make a call to the insurance agent requesting an explanation. They usually do their best to justify the increase and unfortunately, may convince you to accept reduced coverage and/or increased deductibles to keep your rates down.
This may motivate you to try to find a better rate on your own by searching the web or calling an 800 number you’ve seen on a television commercial. Unfortunately, neither a funny commercial nor a talking lizard is a long-term solution. After all, somebody has to pay for those very expensive advertising costs! So, what can you do to save money?
Independent Insurance Professionals
The big question – do you know enough about insurance to even know what questions to ask in order to secure the best coverage, the best price and the best service? The good news: you don't have to become an insurance expert because help is out there!
Insurance is sold through three different channels: independent agents, captive agents and internet sales. Most people find that insurance can be confusing and the terms are not always simple for the non-insurance professional. Here are some basic definitions to help you determine your best options for assistance and guidance in identifying and obtaining adequate coverage.
An insurance agent is an intermediary between the insurance company and you, the client. Their key responsibilities are timely and accurate processing of paperwork and premiums. They may or may not ensure that you have the appropriate coverage for your situation or be looking out primarily for your needs. Only you will know when an insurance representative best fits YOUR needs, i.e., you are comfortable they'll spend the time necessary to understand your situation. Insurance agents can be either:
Captive – A “captive” agent works for one insurance company - they can only represent and sell policies for that one company.
Independent – An "independent" agent represents several insurance companies and can offer options for more than one, thereby providing a comparison of pros and cons. Their compensation is commission-based. They do not receive a salary as an insurance company employee.
Therefore, an independent agent offers unbiased advice, not favoring a particular insurance company.
Insurance brokers are required to have a broker’s license which means that a broker may generally have more education and/or experience than an insurance agent.
An insurance broker will get to know you on a more personal level and serve as your professional insurance advisor and advocate. He will take the time to understand your needs, recognize when those needs may change, and know how to obtain the best, most cost-effective coverage. Personalized customer service is a high priority at independent agencies.
Having an insurance broker means you don’t have to deal with the automated 800 numbers quite as often. Most importantly, your broker can give you advice before you file a claim. He will know who to call, what information you’ll need to have, and if your policy has the appropriate coverage to cover the loss. Note: An insurance company works with their own best interests in mind – your broker works for you.
Choosing a Broker
Be forewarned: not all brokers are created equal. It is advisable to thoroughly research and verify an insurance professional’s credentials. A broker should be considered as a member of your “financial” team. It is their role to help protect you from unexpected financial crises. In some instances you will be discussing very private issues with your broker. They need to be trustworthy and you should feel comfortable talking to them. Ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers and family about their experiences with their insurance agent or broker. Oftentimes referrals from someone you know personally are invaluable.
Once you have the names of a few potential brokers, check to ensure they have a license in good standing through your state’s insurance commission before making a final decision. Click here for: Kentucky-licensed agents Indiana-licensed agents
Here are some additional tips and advice to consider when choosing an insurance broker:
Resources: Look for a broker that represents many different insurance companies. Many brokers only offer 2-3 or even 5 options. Insurance rates tend to be cyclical and often, one set of rates may be up while another is down. The more flexibility your broker has, the better results they can provide to you.
Knowledge: Insurance companies accept all claims, whether it is wise or unwise for you personally to file (an example being a $600 claim on a policy with a $500 deductible). Knowledgeable brokers will discuss whether it is advisable to file your claim and then assist you through the claims process. A broker’s expertise can make or break you at claim time. If you ever have to file a major claim, chances are your primary concern will no longer be whether or not you paid a low rate. You’ll be most concerned about your claims payment ... and if you have an expert broker, the likelihood of a positive experience increases significantly.
Availability: Be sure to ask a potential broker how often they'll be in touch with you. At minimum, a good broker will call each year to review your situation and alter your coverage to address any changes. She will listen closely and offer recommendations that fit with your circumstances. She will also take the time to educate you and equip you to make informed decisions. It is critical that you feel comfortable reaching out to your broker with any questions. You should hear a friendly voice on the phone – one who is glad you called. If your broker is unavailable at the time of your call, you should expect a return call within 24 hours.
Trust Schwartz Insurance Group
Since 1956, we’ve served clients with a mission to cultivate trusted relationships. Protecting your family and assets, and navigating ever-changing insurance markets is not something to be taken lightly. Selecting the right partner is a savvy decision that every individual or family must consider when seeking coverage.
Finding a trustworthy, competent advocate doesn't need to be a challenge. At Schwartz Insurance Group, our professional team is dedicated to being a personal consultative partner. Our commitment to independence and advocacy stands as your greatest assurance that we work for you.
Our goal is saving you money and protecting your family as is if it were our own.
OUR APPROACH - ACTIVE SUPPORT MODEL
For individuals and families, we promise to Keep Insurance Simple & Save! What does this mean for you?
Simplicity: Count on us to think ahead, handle the details and follow a trustworthy process.
Guidance: Enjoy the benefit of professional expertise, for proper, and competitive, coverage.
Advocacy: We always negotiate for you and care for you - we'll be there for you when it counts.