Shopping for insurance? You may think you’re simply looking for an insurance policy. But, perhaps, what you’re really looking for isn’t a “what” but a “who” - someone you can trust to guide you through the plethora of insurance choices, rather than trying to make sense of all the options yourself online. That someone is an insurance agent, but there are countless agents out there – not to mention different types. So, how do you choose? Use these four steps to select the type of agent that’s right for you and find one you want to work with to purchase, review and manage your policies on an ongoing basis.
1. Know the Types of Insurance Agents
Some insurance agents represent only one insurance company. These are known as direct, or captive, agents, and they are direct employees of the company whose policies they sell. Any policy he or she sells will be from that company, and that company only. An independent insurance agent, on the other hand, represents a number of different carriers, oftentimes as an employee of a local agency in your community. An independent agent isn’t restricted by what any one carrier offers, so he or she has more flexibility to help you explore a broader range of options. .
2. Get Recommendations
The best way to predict what kind of service you can expect from an agent is to find out what kind of service he or she has provided in the past. Ask for recommendations from family, friends and neighbors, and then ask for more details.
What does your friend or co-worker like about that agent?
Have there been any problems or complications?
Was the agent helpful, attentive and friendly?
Was the agent knowledgeable, answering all questions satisfactorily?
Most importantly, were the agent and the company he or she represents dependable, timely and supportive through the process of resolving a claim?
3. Research the Agency and Agent
Once you have a few recommendations in hand, it’s time to research your prospective agents, the agencies where they work and the companies they represent. Here are a few places to check:
The website of your state’s Department of Insurance. Here you can likely see any complaints, investigations or disciplinary actions against agents, as well as ensure they have an active license. You can likely look up information about various carriers, as well.
Local chambers of commerce or the Better Business Bureau.
The agency’s own website, which should outline their services, the types of insurance they offer and the carriers they represent.
Online reviews, such as on Google and Yelp, for the agency.
4. Interview the Agent
Your research paid off, leading you to an agent in your area who seems like a good match for you. Now’s the time to ask some tough questions to be sure. Tell the agent what you’d like to insure, and ask how he or she would be able to help. If you or a friend has gone through difficult insurance experiences before, ask how he or she would deal with a similar situation. Ask if he or she gets involved in the claims process, or ask any of those other questions you’ve always wondered about insurance. Pay attention to whether the agent offers specific examples or speaks in generalities, as well as to whether he or she is talking about insurance in a way that makes sense to you. You can also ask for references. A prospective agent may be able to give you a quote at this point. But, what you really want is a sense of how well you could work with this person. Is this someone with whom you can communicate easily and in whom you can place your trust? Because, when you’re shopping for an insurance agent, you’re not just looking for an attractive quote. You’re looking for a good working relationship that can endure through new cars or homes, fender benders, storm damage and much more.
Clients often think they don’t need renters insurance — “Nothing I have is worth that much,” they’ll say, or “I don’t have a lot of stuff.” That’s how most people think of renter’s coverage: protection for stuff, and nothing more. After all, it’s inexpensive and it doesn’t even cover the structure itself. So how important can it be, especially if you don’t think you have anything valuable to protect? Plenty important, because you have more to protect than you realize. You just have to stop thinking only about “stuff.” Here are three key financial protections a renters policy provides:
Loss of use coverage. What would you do if a fire or other issue forced you out of your home? You’d have to find a temporary place to stay, maybe even for months — which might cost you more than your normal rent. Loss of use helps cover that and other additional expenses.
Personal liability protection. If someone trips and injures themselves in your unit, they could sue you. If your dog bites one of your guests, they might file suit, too. Yes, lawsuits happen — even among friends. Renters insurance can help cover legal expenses and even judgments against you. (Some dog breeds may disqualify you from coverage, so be sure to inform your agent of all dogs in the household.)
Personal property coverage. Wait, doesn’t this mean your stuff? Well, yes. But really, this coverage protects your finances. Even if you don’t think you have anything valuable, take a minute and mentally add up everything you own (note that if you do have any high-value items, such as jewelry or heirlooms, you may need additional coverage). Now imagine how much it would cost to replace it all. It’s probably a higher number than you thought — and that’s why renters insurance is so important.
Millions of us enjoy warm weather every year by swimming in our backyard pools and relaxing in hot tubs. Tragically though, over 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pools each year. The American Red Cross suggests owners make pool safety their priority by following these guidelines:
Secure your pool with appropriate barriers. Completely surround your pool with a 4-feet high fence or barrier with a self-closing, self-latching gate. Place a safety cover on the pool or hot tub when not in use and remove any ladders or steps used for access. Consider installing a pool alarm that goes off if anyone enters the pool.
Keep children under active supervision at all times. Stay in arm’s reach of young kids. Designate a responsible person to watch the water when people are in the pool—never allow anyone to swim alone. Have young or inexperienced swimmers wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket.
Ensure everyone in the home knows how to swim well by enrolling them in age-appropriate water orientation and learn-to-swim courses.
Keep your pool or hot tub water clean and clear. Maintain proper chemical levels, circulation and filtration. Regularly test and adjust the chemical levels to minimize the risk of earaches, rashes or more serious diseases.
Establish and enforce rules and safe behaviors, such as “no diving,” “stay away from drain covers,” “swim with a buddy” and “walk please.”
Ensure everyone in the home knows how to respond to aquatic emergencies by having appropriate safety equipment and taking water safety, first aid and CPR certified courses.
These tips may seem simple and obvious, but if followed properly they can and will save lives!
From our offices in Weatherford, Texas, we serve clients anywhere in the State of Texas, though the following areas are geographically closest to us: the counties of Dallas, Tarrant, Denton, Wise, Johnson, Parker and Hood and the cities of Arlington, Bedford, Brock, Burleson, Cleburne, Colleyville, Coppell, Dallas, Decatur, Euless, Fort Worth, Frisco, Granbury, Grapevine, Hurst, Keller, Mansfield, Millsap, Mineral Wells, North Richland Hills, Southlake, Watauga, Weatherford, and White Settlement.