There’s a seemingly endless parade of candidates for car insurance agents, but aren’t they all pretty much the same?
Far from it, actually; in fact, there are as many differences between individual agents as there are between agencies. Some work for a specific company, others are independent, and they all have different strengths and weaknesses. You need to take the time to research an agent before committing.
Your car insurance agent should be in your corner, go above and beyond to keep you protected while saving money, and in general be your personal coach when it comes to insurance. There’s a lot of legal mumbo-jumbo to figure out, and you need to be comfortable that your agent will help you through it.
This is a relationship that should last for the long haul. Here are four things you need to know before signing on that dotted line.
1. What do they have access to?
If an agent works for a specific company, they only have access to policies within that agency and have little wiggle room. If the person’s an independent agent, he or she might have fewer restrictions but different access to different policies — for better or for worse.
Try to learn their limitations, because that will have a direct impact on the service you receive. You need to know what they have access to so you can see if that’s a good match for your needs.
2. How easy are they to reach?
Some people don’t care if they have a personal relationship with their agent, while for others it’s a huge deal. If you want to be able to reach your agent (not just any agent) in a timely manner, find out before you commit.
Whether you prefer email, phone calls, or texts (or all of the above), there’s an agent out there who will make it happen. If an agent doesn’t click with you in terms of communication, you might experience a lot of frustration down the road.
3. What discounts can they score?
There’s a discount for many things, from student drivers to good drivers. Different policies, agencies, and agents offer different discounts. It’s in your best interest financially to choose an agent who can give you the most discounts without sacrificing protection.
4. Do they speak your language?
Few people “outside the industry” can truly translate all that insurance lingo. Your agent should do it for you. He or she should talk to you on your level. If the person doesn’t do this, that’s a big red flag.
To get the most out of your agent, start by picking a reputable one who’s got a proven track record. That’ll give you the head start you deserve.