Independent insurance agents, like ourselves at Aspire Insurance Agency, are not a new concept. The independent agent has been around for many decades. However, it seems that lately, we are growing in popularity. Even as e-commerce options rise. Why?
For years, the largest insurance companies have used “captive” agents that exclusively sell for them. It makes sense; they want their agents to push their products. However consumers have tolerated this less and less.
In the last 20 years, companies have awakened to the concept that what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Most insurance companies cannot insure all consumers, they know this, especially the many various business industries out there. Certain industries or policy types require significant specialization and resources. Companies create niches that they are most successful in. Independent agents are able to direct consumers more appropriately to the right company. Consumers win, they always do with increased competition, but companies do too. This allows them to cast a wider net than they would relying on their exclusive sales force.
Enter e-commerce and the direct-to-consumer model- designed to cut out the middleman, in this case, the agent. Oh, the insurance companies loved this idea. So did the consumer, initially, anyways. In this new, digital age, consumers can browse multiple options and buy insurance, instantly, online, in their pajamas, without talking to anybody. Initially this sounded fantastic. Who needs us agents anyways? What do we even do? Well, a lot of things that the computer can never do, and at no additional cost to you. Here are the main ones:
1) Care about you. Your agent earns a commission, every year that you stay with them. They do not want you to leave. They want you to be happy and tell all of your friends. They want your claim to be covered. They want to be of value to you. That’s their design. They will take the time to educate you and understand you. The better your agent gets to know you, the more likely you will have the right coverage on your policy.
2) Coordinate for you. A perfectly good policy will cancel for all kinds of reasons. Payments, inspections, audits, Mortgage company changed their PO box, and didn’t tell you? Consequently, didn’t pay your home premium this year? Happens all the time. It’s a bit of a headache and a lot of time waiting on hold. However, your agent knows exactly what to do, and is happy to help you if you ask.
3) Advocate for you. The underwriting process can be brutal. Not every customer sees it, but ones that falls, even slightly outside of the company’s acceptable guidelines know. A good agent can bridge the disconnect, especially if switching insurance companies. An agent who has known you for several years, can help illustrate that to the new underwriter and ease their reluctancy. Claim not going well? Your agent is happy to get involved if need be.
4) Claim Guidance. Did you have a small claim? Call your agent and they may be able to forecast the potential impact to your rate or eligibility based on your circumstances. If you bought direct, and called the claim center, you may be paying for a new $0 claim on your record, even if it was under your deductible or not your fault. Or worse a small problem that turns into a big one later.
5) Policy Guidance. We want your claim to be covered. Often, that means a different type of policy is needed. “Actually Ms. Smith, a General liability policy does not cover professional mistakes, based on your consulting business, and the types of clients who depend on you, we should look at a Professional Liability policy.” (See #1, Care about you). Buy direct, and you may walk away with “business insurance” that leaves your business uncovered for most things.
Unfortunately, if you bought your insurance direct, you’re on your own. Your insurance, generally, does not cost any more to have an agent than to buy direct. The agent’s commissions are simply re-directed to in-house call center employees, who, I assure you, do not care about you near as much, or absorbed entirely be the company. Insurance agents live to serve their customers. Why not work with a pro?
Call us today! (913) 904-1020