I’ve come to realize over the course of my four years as an independent insurance agent that most insurance consumers do not have a firm grip on the role independent agents play in the insurance buying process. So I’m going to use a little pop-culture reference as a means to enlighten those who would like to know how to choose an insurance agent.
Independent insurance agents are the Jedi of the insurance industry.
The Force Is Strong…
“Cheapest insurance you want not… proper coverage you seek… find you a independent agent we will!” ~ Yoda
When working with an independent agent on your business insurance program, the size of the agency (within reason) has little to do with the quality of service and coverage you will receive. Independent agents are trained (look to work with a Certified Insurance Counselor or CIC if possible) and time-tested in their art and dedicated to upholding the values of the people and businesses they protect.
In this way independent agents are much like Jedi, the fictional heroes of the “Star Wars” saga. (They are not exactly alike, as most cannot move objects with their minds or handle a light-saber.)
So if the size of an independent agency doesn’t matter and all independent agents are trained and dedicated, how can a business owner choose the right agent to do business with?
Here are the three factors I would recommend considering when selecting an insurance agent:
- Expertise: Look for an agent who specializes in the insurance concerns of your industry. For some main street businesses (such as liquor store, laundromat or gas station), this may not be a concern as risks are fairly uniform. But if you have a specialized business (i.e., contracting, manufacturing, professional office), you need an agent that specializes in your industry.
- Experience: Experience is relative. I have been in the insurance industry for four years, so most people would say I’m still very new. However, I’ve probably written 100 professional liability policies (my niche), so I would say I’m experienced. In my opinion, this is the least important of these three characteristics, but it is certainly worth considering. My first year in the business, relatively speaking, I didn’t know squat.
- Attitude: This is the most important characteristic to consider when choosing an independent agent. Is the agent hungry? Is he or she actively looking for new insurance solutions to solve your insurance concerns? Does the agent’s philosophy on insurance match your own? Does the agent communicate coverage concerns well? Is the agent responsive to your questions? These are attitude characteristics and when it comes to the success of your insurance program I feel they are the most important decision point.
You know your business better than anyone, but that doesn’t mean that you know the proper way to insure your business. Take the responsibility of choosing an insurance agent seriously, then lean on the expertise of the agent you chose.
If you could only send one person into battle, you wouldn’t send a Storm Trooper, you’d send a Jedi. Partner with an insurance agent who shares your business philosophy, knows your industry and has the experience to handle your risk.
Then your business will “Live long and prosper.” Oops, wrong sci-fi analogy. . .