Life is very uncertain, and anything can happen at any time. If you have prepared for the ordeal, survival becomes quite viable.
You also have to analyze; what risks do you face? And what measures can you afford to mitigate those risks?
For a layman like most of us, especially those who do not work with finance, it is quite difficult to compute and assess the risks, tolerance levels, and coverage required. Here is where the independent insurance agents arrive at the game.
Independent Insurance Agents
Independent insurance agents, also called insurance sales agents, are professionals, experts in various insurance products and services as intermediaries between the insurance company and the insured. They have the skills to assess the risk profile of their clients and their coverage requirements and suggest insurance products accordingly.
Independent insurance agents are in contract with various insurance companies or carriers. These professionals have exhaustive knowledge in insurance matters and laws and are more than able to advise their clients with appropriate coverage plans.
Independent insurance agents do not exclusively represent a single insurance provider rather represent multiple companies together.
There are specialized independent insurance agents that serve specific sectors of the risk coverage market. Some deal with business and related products. Some sell property coverage plans, and some provide their service in Life and Health insurance market.
How Independent Insurance Agents Function
Independent insurance agents work much like financial advisors and consultants. IIAs are experts in recognizing the risk mitigation needs of their clients. And suggest the most feasible insurance plan.
Independent insurance agents consider the cost of the insurance the customer is willing to afford and advise accordingly.
These independent agents are authorized to sell products of many insurance carriers. They can suggest clients with mitigation plans that can involve more than one insurance product offered by more than one insurance company.
To understand this more clearly, consider that you are a prospective buyer for property insurance plans, and you need to cover your car, the house where you live, and the condo you have rented to a couple. Your independent insurance agent might design a protection plan that includes auto insurance from ABC insurance company, home owner’s insurance plan from XYZ insurance LTD, and Landlord’s insurance from MNO Insurance inc. Three different products from three separate insurance organizations.
Insurance agents often sell mutual funds, annuities, and products that address wealth management, retirement, and estate planning.
Various organizations support and govern the IIAs like The National Organization of Life and Health Agents (NOLHA), the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (The Big “I”), the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA), and Agents for change, etc.
Insurance Companies & Independent Insurance Agents:
The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA) has listed the following insurance companies that conduct business and sell their insurance plans via independent insurance agents:
- Allied Property and Casualty
- American Strategic Insurance
- Auto-Owners Insurance
- Cincinnati Insurance Company
- Colorado Casualty Insurance Co.
- EMC Insurance Companies
- Frankenmuth Insurance
- General Casualty Insurance
- Grange Insurance
- The Hanover Insurance Group
- The Hartford Insurance
- Integrity Insurance
- Ohio Casualty
- Peerless Insurance
- Penn National Insurance
- The Travelers Companies
- The Republic Group
- West Bend Mutual
- Westfield Insurance
- Zurich North America
Advantages of Independent Insurance Agents:
1. Licensed experts:
No one cannot just open up an independent insurance agency. Independent insurance agents make a career out of assessing their customer’s insurance needs and matching them with the insurance carrier best equipped to meet those needs at a price the customer can afford. Consulting a licensed insurance agent is similar to taking legal issues to your lawyer. The insurance agent who has comprehensive experience and expertise in the field can derive the most appropriate solution for your risk mitigation needs.
Independent insurance agents work under ethical standards and business practices.
2. The alternatives you gain:
Independent insurance agents sell coverage products from multiple insurance companies offering plenty of coverage options and insurance premium prices. An industry average for independent agents is to represent five to eight different insurance companies. The agents execute the comparison for you. They are well-versed with each company they work for and can show you alternatives that satisfy your risk appetite at your price point. They do the insurance shopping for you, making the insurance coverage much more efficient and better value.
3. Impartial advisers:
Agents not only find you affordably priced options, but they also make sure you are amply covered. Independent insurance agents serve as your adviser, taking the time to understand your individual needs and risks. IIAs take up the job of not just about finding a price you can manage; but also making sure you are sufficiently covered.
4. Clients’ advocate:
If you have a billing or claim concern or need to change your coverage, your agent can be your advocate, working with the insurance company on your behalf. Captive agents of one company are often restricted. An independent insurance agent affiliated with the customer instead of a single company. The advantage is when you file claims, they can become complicated, and the insured can get lost in the process and the technical terms. An independent insurance agent is a highly trained professional working on your behalf, resulting in a much feasible claim settlement.
5. One-stop shopping:
Independent insurance agents can provide for all of your coverage needs with the companies they represent. IIAs provide auto, home, landlords, and business coverage and also offer life and health insurance all under one roof. Think of it as going to Walmart or Target for grocery shopping.
6. Advisors for life:
Independent insurance agents periodically review and update your protection plans. They continuously assess all the changes in your life, whether you are going from renting an apartment to buying a home, starting a business, getting married, renovating your home, IIAs suggest adjustments in your insurance policies.
IIAs are right around the corner of your neighborhood; most probably are part of the community.
How to Find an Independent Insurance Agent near you:
Buying insurance does not have to become a hassle; that is why you will find insurance agents among the people you know. The following are some tips to find a reliable insurance agent near you.
- Google it: Today, the answers to most of the questions are available on google. Search for the best rated independent insurance agents in your area. Results according to the customer ratings, along with the customer’s comments, will be available to you in less than a second.
- Inquire your friends and family: People around you, your family, friends, and office colleagues must have bought insurance policies. Inquire them about their insurance agents. Usually, the best recommendations are from word of mouth.
- Be a bit observant: Observe the surroundings around you. Visit the business district in your city, ask around for IIAs. Check your local listing, magazines, and advertisements for insurance ads.
Independent insurance agents provide unbiased and dedicated services to their customers and focus on building long-term relationships. They make your insurance and coverage shopping hassle-free.