How To Choose An Insurance Agent

In a single statement, Insurance Agent is a person who sells insurance policies.It can be further explained as the person employed by an insurance company to sell policies on the company's behalf.The insurance agent generally receives a commission for his service.Along with this, agent always try to extract the maximum value for the company in all his dealings.
In the present scenario, the advantages of Insurance can't be overlooked by any individual.As it is considered as part and parcel of today's life; where we are prone to any unexpected risk.To get most of insurance, it is better to have adequate knowledge of various plans. And we as an insured should ascertain policies of different companies as per our need.In this situation, it is insurance agent who brings useful information to the existing as well as potential buyers.The agent is representative and adviser of the company who sells insurance plans.

INSURANCE AGENT may be a person or firm that acts as an intermediary between clients seeking insurance cover and companies offering a variety of policies.Thus the agent's main job is to provide people with insurance.He gives you advice about and sells insurance for a company or a number of companies.


TYPES OF INSURANCE AGENT

Agent is a basically that individual who represents an insurance firm and sell policies on their part.Insurance agents gives you information about policies and suggest you which one is best for you.Broadly there are two major types of insurance agents:


1.Direct Writer/Captive insurance agent: This agent bear the familiar names that your parents knew well.They buy with the company, use their systems and sell the product of that particular company only.Captive agents are allowed to sell the policies that their company sells, regardless of how expensive they happen to be in that area at that time.
These agent works for only one insurance company.They are generally paid by the company either with a combination of salary and commission or only commission.These agents have full knowledge of their companies product, but can't help a client who doesn't qualify for that company's products.
Captive agents also known as exclusive insurance agents, are contracted to work only for a single company. The benefits for captive agent are brand recognition(for the public) and back office capacity(for the agent).Such agents work exclusively for single insurance carrier and are obliged to give business to that specific company only.Some of the merits of captive agents are as follows:

  • Generally, starting resources are paid by the parent company
  • Primarily based on salary
  • Have direct access to reinsurance market

2.Independent Insurance Agent: Independent insurance agents sell a variety of insurance products like property insurance, casualty insurance, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance and many more.These agents typically represents a number of insurance companies or carriers and sell the product that aptly meets the requirements of clients.The independent agents are well trained and aware of complexities of the insurance market and insurance law.Their expertise allows them to advertise there customers about coverags for their particular need.
Often, these agents work with insurance intermediaries, that obtain quotes from multiple insurances companies and pass them off to these agents.And working with the intermediaries allows the independent agents to review multiple quotes and offer their clients the best possible plan.In consideration to these efforts, independent agents are paid remuneration/commission by the company.
In addition to the policies, agents often sell mutual funds, annuities, and also products that address wealth management, retirement, and estate planning.Some of the organizations that support the interest of independent agents are The National Organisation of Life and Health Agents (NOLHA), The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Of America, National Association of Professional Insurance Agents.Independent agents are independent contractors for the companies they represent.These agents usually collect the commission, not salary from the company they represent.

An INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENCY is a privately owned business that sells insurance plans with many companies.Independent agents are often termed as brokers/insurance sale agent.The relationship between an independent insurance agent and the insurance company is different than that of captive agents. Independent agencies come in all sizes from a single agent to Fortune 500 companies.


DUTIES/ RESPONSIBILITIES OF INSURANCE AGENT

Mainly, insurance agents work for the insurance companies and try to sell new plans or renewals to customers.They act as a mediator between person seeking insurance policy and the company selling the policies.As an insurance agent, they have some duties that are-

a) Lead Generation:- Normally, paid on commission, the agents have the duty to generate a lead for insurance.This may include placing ads in local newspaper or website/making cold calls/buying contact lists.Once the agent gets number and name of prospects, he either make a call or set a personal meeting with them.

b) Interview:- During a phone call, or meeting, the agent asks questions and pays heed to the aspirations of individual.Then he tries to assess the customer's situation to figure out which plan would suit them most.The discussion during the first meeting are made related to coverage needs, amount, payment preference, budget etc..

c) Sales:- Like other professionals, an insurance agent must possess the art of persuasion.Once he understands the need of the customer, he then look over the product option and recommend them to prospects.Along with persuading them for policies, it's also important to take long term orientation.So that they get to continue business from new customers.Thus the agent must follow honesty and consumer centered approach.

d) Service:- Large insurance companies often have call center and support team that deal with consumer basic problems.However, these agents function like the first point of service contact.If a customer has query for claim/coverage, he calls his agent to get information.The customer can also make call to cancel policies or to-make additions to coverage.

Generally, the insurance agent helps customers to obtain an appropriate insurance plan.The agent must explain to them what options are available and then make recommendations.Also, customer should communicate his wishes to the agent.The agent/broker is obliged to obtain the coverage that you have selected.If there exists any difference, then he must explain discrepancies.
Your agent may be asked for claim if he/she fails to inform you that the coverage you are provided is not exactly the same what you requested for.Let say, if you purchase commercial property policy from the agent Jacky Jones.You clearly told Jacky that you want to include building ordinance coverage in your policy, as it is critical and must be included.
When Jacky delivers the policy, he told that it includes all those what you have requested.After 6 months, your building caught fire.Then, you file a claim for the property with the insurer.But unfortunately, the claim you received is less than you expected.You discover that in spite of Jacky's promise, policy doesn't cover building ordinance coverage.In this case, if you sue Jacky for his negligence then he will be liable for the amount that you could receive, if that coverage was included in the policy.
The insurance agent has the duty to place your policy with the financially sound insurer.Likewise, the agent must have an obligation to inform you if he knows that your policy is about to be canceled.


QUALITIES THAT MAKE A GOOD INSURANCE AGENT

There are several qualities that a good insurance agent need to possess, at least to some extent.Let's have a look at some of them:-

PEOPLE SKILLS

1. Put the needs of client first: An agent who only aims to earn commission, regardless of customer's needs, is not likely to stay long in the business.The insurance agent who carefully listens to the needs of customer will be able to earn their trust; that is the toughest part of the job.

2. Customer Service: The customers who are likely to get help of their agents when they need them, are more likely to stay happy.The timely response of queries and phone calls is a must.Because most people Complain that there is no one to answer their questions after they have purchased the policy.

3.Emotional Intelligence: It includes the ability to listen and empathize the customers in order to know what they actually want.A good insurance agent is tactful enough how to help a client.

STRONG PERSONALITY

1.High energy level: This is also the important quality of good insurance agent that he must appear to be excited and energetic all the time.A sluggish and work-shy agent will discourage the clients from purchasing anything.

2.Persistence: It is also one of the vital quality of the agent.Those working in this field must be able to handle rejection on a daily basis.They should understand that each 'NO' will bring them closer to someone who will say 'YES'.

3.Honesty: The agent must perform his duties with full honesty.A good agent knows that telling the truth in front of customers will win their trust and respect.


GENERAL KNOWLEDGE

1.Technical Knowledge: A good insurance agent must have known how to sell the policy.They must understand the tax and legal aspects of the product he/she is going to sell and how they are going to fit into customer's overall financial condition.

2.Wide array of products: It is old saying that, "if all you have to work with hammer, everything in this world looks like a nail".The good agent will be able to offer wide selection of policies that can meet any reasonable needs that a client have.

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