Friday, April 12, 2013

7 Tips to Selecting the Right Independent Insurance Agent

Selecting the right independent insurance agent to take care of your insurance needs should
not be an “eeny, meeny, miny, moe” decision. You are looking for a long-term relationship with
someone you can trust. You wouldn’t buy a car without shopping around, and you shouldn’t
select an independent agent without doing some research too. So what should you look for?

1. Know the Difference between Independent Agents and other Insurance Agents
An independent agent may be a small-business owner who represents a number of different
insurance companies. In contrast, agents who represent large, national insurance companies
are employees of their company and only sell products from that company. A direct insurance
company sells directly to you without an agent, typically online. An independent agent has the
opportunity to best match price and coverage for your needs, and if an insurance company is
competitive one year but not the next, your independent agent can quote other carriers. That is
why they are called independent.

2. Ask for Referrals
Referrals from family, friends and colleagues are a good place to start. When you ask around,
find out why they like their independent agent. Ask about their customer service and follow through, if the agent is friendly and knowledgeable. Is their policy reviewed annually?

3. Decide If Location Is Important to You
It may be important for you that your independent agent has offices in your community. You
have the convenience of being able to stop by to ask questions or help with a claim and
develop a trust relationship. Many independent agents are deeply committed to their
community and are actively involved as coaches, scout leaders or civic leaders.

4. Visit Their Websites
Websites are full of information. Read about the history of the agency, the staff’s bios, their
customer testimonials. See if their website provides insurance information and easy access to
price quotes, either online or via telephone. Websites can give you a feel for the personality of
the agency, what they think is important, and the type of customer service they provide.

5. Look for Credentials
A knowledgeable independent agent can provide the advice you need when deciding what
coverage and limits you need to protect your family and you. Look for independent agents who
have letters next their name on their business card. These represent professional designations,
such as Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter
(CPCU), Associate in Risk Management (ARM). To maintain these credentials, independent
agents must take continuing education classes.

6. Interview the Independent Agents
You should interview the independent agents you are considering. Personality is important since
you should like the agent you are going to work with, potentially for several years. You should
feel respect for their knowledge and get a sense about their integrity.

7. Knowledge and Trust Are Key
It is not so simple to determine knowledge and trust because these qualities are established over
time. But you can start by asking the independent agents you are considering to explain the
products they sell and how they determine which products, coverage and limits you need. This
will give you a good feel for how the agent does business.

Remember that your relationship with a good independent agent is likely to last a a long time, so it
pays to take the time to choose the right one for you.

As your independent agent, our job is to help you select the best coverage and limits and with
the most competitive premiums from a variety of the insurance companies we represent. Contact Dostal & Kirk Insurance & Financial Services today at (877) 562-6801 or

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