3 Ways to Spot a Good (or Bad) Insurance Agency
With insurance agencies being around every corner and ads popping up on Google, how do you know who you can trust with your great financial investments? Google reviews can be misleading or even missing in many cases and don’t necessarily account for long term service. Being around for the last forty years, our agency has seen other agencies come and go. We’ve seen shady agencies with questionable practices and great agencies that thrive on helping their community around them. We’ve boiled it down to three easy ways to differentiate those not-so-great, money driven agencies, and the ones that are generally well-meaning agencies wanting to protect you as the customer. So here are three Good vs Bad insurance agencies tips:
1. They advertise getting you the “cheapest” rate.
Any insurance agent can get you a cheap rate. They only need to cut coverage, increase deductibles, and choose a company that is less than reputable during a disaster. That doesn’t mean that having an inexpensive rate mean you get bad coverage, but it should cause you to question the agent if their rate is considerably less in comparison to other agents.
Good agents will get you the coverage you need. They’ll get you replacement cost coverage for what it would take to rebuild your home/car/condo. They’ll take into consideration your location and likelihood of perils when it comes to additional or less coverage. In Florida, every household needs wind coverage built into their policy or sold in addition to their home insurance. This covers Hurricanes, which all Floridians know all too well the damage that can incur. Some areas need Flood coverage. Regardless of you living in a Flood Zone and being required to have, some places are still a high risk for flooding. In which, your normal home insurance won’t cover. Good agents care about your financial well-being and know that if disasters occur, it usually won’t be for anything less than $10,000.
2. There’s nothing on their website about their staff
As an agency owner, there is nothing more that makes me grimace, than seeing another owner not give credit to their hard-working staff. The blood of an agency are the Customer Support Staff and Sales teams that are servicing their accounts, talking to the customers, and solving the day-to-day problems of coverage questions. If the agency has a website and doesn’t have a directory of the staff, you can generally bet that the owner is more focused on showcasing their own career and their own agency rather than the talent of his staff. I recently saw a website plastered with pictures of the owner in front of expensive cars and homes. The focus of the content of the website is generally the focus of the agency as a whole.
And if they don’t have a website, run. If they can’t invest in a simple website, they’re not here for the long haul. Obviously if it’s a new agency, there won’t be much longevity, so this tip won’t apply.
Good agencies highlight their staff and offer praise for the tough job they handle. If their staff gets burned out, they might close the office early before a holiday or for team building. That isn’t because they don’t care about you as a customer coming to make a payment. They care about the staff’s well-being because they know that loyalty shows up with better performance and care of the customers. It is invaluable to have staff that has been loyal for 10+ years. They know more and have been through many more claims and weird questions than any employee that jumps around from agency to agency. Pay attention to the longevity of the staff; it’s a great indicator of how you’ll be treated.
3. They’re so quick they don’t need all your information
When an agent is looking to get a quick sale, they’ll run through a quote as quick as possible with the cheapest company there is, all so they’ll get your business. But when they do this, they leave off crucial information to the underwriting process. After you sign the contract for coverage, you’ll probably find out the price goes up a bunch or the company suddenly cancels your coverage, and you must start over with a new company. When the agent omits information, the underwriting platform can only guess what the risk is, and it’s usually a positive end of things so the quote looks more appealing.
A good agent will take their time asking you the right questions, sometimes oddly specific questions so that they can get an accurate quote. Every insurance company has different underwriting guidelines that they ask questions for within their quotes. For home insurance, they may ask the age of the hot water heater or if there’s a trampoline. The wrong answer to either could end of excluding you from coverage with a certain company. Be patient and go through the process with your agent.
And while we’re talking about speedy quotes, we know that sometimes you need a quote in a hurry. Closing on a home can be a stressful process but pushing an agent to skip the details for the sake of speed is not wise. Sometimes Realtors are prone to doing this for the sake of closing on time or alleviating their client’s stress. But realtors are not insurance agents. And when they make a referral, it’s generally because the agent is speedy, not necessarily because they are accurate or thorough. Referrals can be great, just makes sure you’re not being rushed through the process.
There are always exceptions to the rules within any industry. An agent can be quick and accurate, or a new agency may not list all the staff because of the website platform (or lack of staff). Whatever the exception may be, talking to agent over the phone is generally the best way to gauge their motives. If you feel pressured or obligated to buy their coverage, take a step back to re-evaluate that business relationship and review the list above. Feeling comfortable with your insurance agent is what’s most important.
The majority of insurance agency owners start an agency with good intentions and an altruistic view of the community. These are the agencies that thrive. Their customers can sense the care they are getting and have relationships with their agents. Local Independent Insurance Agencies live in your neighborhood, their kids go to school with yours, and face the same local threats as you. They empathize with you and advocate for your protection and financial well-being. Find these agencies like us here at Norton Insurance of Florida, and you can rest assured in your coverage and financial assets.