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Put your Insurance Agent to the Test

January 10, 2011

Chris Garlasco, Owner & Managing Partner - Founders Insurance Group

Our friends at GEICO imply that fifteen minutes is all you need to make an auto insurance decision. I heard another company make a claim that they have that number down to a meager eight minutes! As an independent agent, it will be a very long time, it ever, that we offer up insurance faster than burgers at a fast food restaurant. There is a reason why it isn’t likely that you will see this coming from independent agents like Founders.

The reason is a practical one. In order to evaluate many companies at once, it takes a little bit of time. Unlike the small animal that Progressive uses to ring up the price of several insurance carriers, we look not only at prices, but at claim service and individual policy coverage.

In order to do a proper job for a client, a series of questions should always be asked and explained. If you are thinking about purchasing your auto insurance on-line or through an “800” number here are a few questions that should be asked. The following questions are not in-depth coverage questions, but simply the very basics when taking out an auto insurance policy.

  1. What is the proper amount of coverage that I need, especially if I have assets, such as a home to protect?
  2. What is the difference between a single limit policy and a split limit policy? What are the possible ramifications in switching from one to the other?
  3. How long is my rate guaranteed for, six months or one year? I.E. What is the length of the policy?
  4. What is the difference between BRB, and Med Pay coverage? Which option is best for me?
  5. What limit of Uninsured Coverage should I carry? What is the difference between Uninsured and Underinsured coverage?
  6. What is Conversion coverage?
  7. If I currently have or wish to purchase an Umbrella policy, what are my required underlying limits?
  8. Define GAP coverage and do I need it? Why or why not?
  9. How does my credit score affect my rate?
  10. Does your company of choice use replacement or aftermarket parts?

The fact is that there are lots more questions about policy language and additional coverage options. Every week we look at policies that were purchased at “800” number companies, purchased on-line, or by agents that haven’t taken the time to cover these issues. Often times we have to correct the coverage errors before we can even begin the proposal process. Many times, an unknowing client has purchased coverage that had been reduced in order to reduce the price. I am not implying that GEICO, Progressive or any other insurance company is guilty of this practice. Many times the consumer does it to themselves when buying on-line. However, often carriers that sell on-line are careful to not make statements that are very specific. If there are coverage recommendations, they are most often offered on a very general basis and not tailored to your specific situation. My point is that if you choose to purchase on-line, or through an agent these questions need to be asked and explained. If they are, your call or visit to an agent will likely take some time and that’s a good thing!

The above questions are specific to Connecticut, but most states will have a somewhat similar list. Homeowner coverage is even more complex and the “must ask” list will likely be even longer, but that’s for another day.

Put your agent to the test and have a great day!

Chris Garlasco

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 10, 2011 4:28 pm

    So often insurance decisions are so transactionalized and the buyer simply goes to the last page of the proposal thinking that all are alike. Insurance agents give so much “free advice”, whereas, attorneys and accountants all charge for their time. It really is a shame. However, I am hopeful that savvy agents will start using social media to educate the consumer. People have now turned to the internet as their primary source of information so we have a chance to shape public opinion via articles like this.

  2. Chris permalink
    January 10, 2011 5:52 pm

    Thanks for your comment Debbie! Sadly, There are a group of insurance carriers that promote the sale of a policy as nothing more than a price transaction. I am encouraged by the fact that some of these carriers have begun to market coverage first, as I think even they have begun to see the danger in this activity. As independent agents, we must be very careful not to chase bad behavior with more bad behavior. We can do that by taking the time to ask the right questions and offer a learning experience to the client. Social media is very much part of that equation. Marketing our value proposition is the name of the game!

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