1. Customer Service – If you have coverage questions or worse, need to report a claim, would you rather reach an automated recording or an actual person when you call your insurance provider? More and more companies have switched to automated systems, often making it difficult and time consuming to reach the right person. However, at many independent insurance agencies, an actual person will still greet and assist you. In the unfortunate event of a claim, your agent can help you report the claim as well as explain what exactly your policy covers. If you’ve experienced a significant loss, such as water damage to your business, your insurance agent can help you there as well, connecting you to a reputable remediation company right away.
2. Personal Shoppers – Working with an independent insurance agent can be compared to having a personal shopper. Similar to the way in which a real estate agent sorts through properties to help you find your ideal home, an insurance agent reviews many different insurance companies’ rates and coverage options to help you secure policies that best suit your needs. You may believe that this comes at an additional cost to you, but independent agents do not add extra charges to insurance companies’ rates. So you can choose to work with an independent agent, who will handle your coverage needs, assist you with claims reporting and answer any questions you may have, from billing issues to coverage concerns, always advocating on your behalf, at no additional cost to you.
3. Community Involvement – In addition to assisting you, many independent insurance agents also actively help your local community. As local business owners, many insurance agency principals place a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. From sponsoring fundraisers and donating to local charities, to volunteering and serving as board members for non-profit organizations, there are many ways you may witness your local insurance agents giving back to the community, which can make you feel confident about your decision to do business with them.
4. Local Knowledge – It can be rewarding to witness your insurance agent supporting the community, but another local benefit you may not think of is your agent’s knowledge of your community. As local residents, many insurance agents have lived in your area for years and use their knowledge of the community to help you better reduce your risks and protect your assets. For instance, would an insurance company in the South be as familiar with New England’s high water tables in the spring that increase flood risks? If not, this provider may not be as likely to recommend basement water coverage, which is typically not included in a standard policy. Similarly, many independent agents will provide you with seasonal tips to help you reduce your risks, such as how to prevent ice dams and when you should consider raking your roof.
5. Understanding – Independent insurance agents understand that insurance can seem complicated and confusing, especially when you don’t deal with it on a daily basis. For this reason, your insurance agent will work to ensure that you fully understand your coverage, from what is and is not included, to the deductibles and limits you should carry. After you purchase your policies, an independent agent’s work isn’t over – instead, he/she is available year-round to help answer your questions, update your policy and make coverage recommendations.
6. One-Stop Shops – At many independent insurance agencies, you can take care of all your coverage needs at once, limiting the number of different companies you deal with and helping you stay organized. For example, if you own a small business, you can likely secure commercial insurance coverage from the same agency that insures your car and home. If you’re looking for health, life, or dental insurance, whether for your family or business, many insurance agents can help you there as well.
7. Reputation – Reputation plays a crucial role in finding a company you can trust, and many independent agencies take pride in the years, if not decades, they have spent serving their local communities. Not only can a company’s many years of service speak to its well-established reputation in the community, but it can also help you feel confident about its financial stability. Although there are many different ways to obtain insurance, would you rather obtain a quote from a startup Internet-based insurance provider that advertised on television, or call a local agent who your friends, co-workers and neighbors could recommend?
8. Knowledge – When you require legal advice, you contact a lawyer, and when a health issue arises, you visit your doctor, so when you need assistance with your insurance coverage, why not rely on an industry expert? In addition to having many years of experience in the industry, independent insurance agents have also worked with many different insurance companies and are knowledgeable about their individual strengths. Although one insurance company may provide unmatched claims service, another may offer more competitive rates. Based on what’s most important to you, whether it be a company’s service, rates, financial stability or a combination of all three factors, an independent agent will find the best match for you.
9. Saving Money & Time – Insurance companies that promise to drastically reduce your rates in minutes may seem cost-effective at first, but working with an independent agent can save you money and time over the long term. Instead of providing you with an instant rate, independent agents will ask questions and take the time to familiarize themselves with your business to ensure that the coverage they design will adequately protect you and your assets in the event of a claim.
10. Protection & Peace of Mind – Above all, working with an independent insurance agent will provide you with peace of mind, knowing that when you save money on your insurance, it won’t come at the expense of comprehensive coverage. When it comes to protecting your home, family, business and other invaluable assets, relying on an independent agent you can trust is a great place to start.
How to Avoid Dreadfully Frightful Surprises From Your Insurance
Halloween can bring out the scary side in us all. As independent insurance agents, we like spooky, too, but certainly not when it comes to your insurance coverage. Some of the insurance misconceptions floating around out there are downright scary. Here are three in particular that make our blood run cold, and that’s because they could put you at serious financial risk:
Misconception 1: “I have an umbrella policy, so I’m covered for everything.”
Eeek! Though the intent of a personal umbrella policy is to provide an additional layer of liability protection on top of what your other personal insurance policies provide, there can still be coverage gaps.
Misconception 2: “I don’t need to buy rental car insurance – my auto policy will cover it.”
Oooooh! Like most things in insurance, yes and no. The coverage on your personal auto policy will likely follow you any time you drive any car (at least a car that you have permission to use). But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free and clear to decline the rental car coverage.
One way to take the fright out of standing behind the car rental counter is to understand what your personal auto policy covers before you rent a car. We can help you with that. Your credit card company may also offer some coverage as well, assuming you use your card to pay for the rental. Do your research beforehand so you understand if you have enough coverage or if you should consider purchasing more through the rental agency.
Misconception 3: “No need to review my policy at renewal. I bought the right coverage the first time around.”
Like the boogie man hiding under a bed, an insurance claim could be lingering in the darkness. And, if your policy hasn’t kept pace with your life, you could be looking at an uncovered claim. Gasp!
Maybe you inherited a diamond ring from your great aunt but never scheduled coverage for it. Maybe you built an addition on your home but never updated your dwelling coverage. Maybe you bought a car with cash and forgot to insure it since there was no lender requiring proof of insurance.
A lot can happen in our busy lives. And, when you take the time for an annual insurance review, you may find your coverage is no longer up to the task of protecting the life you have today. Instead, it’s designed for the life you had a few years ago. So, connect with us any time a big life change occurs. We’d much rather have a pleasant conversation about coverage options and solutions for your changing life than explain why something is not covered.
Insurance misconceptions are scary. There’s just too much on the line. But, your own insurance experience doesn’t have to be a fright. Work with your local independent agent to understand what you have and to select additional coverage as needed.
for more information, visit the SafeCo blog.