In today’s automated world, we are used to dealing with voice answering services, 800 numbers and websites to get things done. Unfortunately, we lose something very critical in the process: human interaction. While ordering shoes from Zappos may be more convenient, some things simply shouldn’t be done without human assistance. Bonus points if you actually know the human you’re dealing with.
Insurance is not something that translates incredibly well to the online/automated world. Sure, getting info about policies, bills and coverage definitions can be wonderfully enhanced with the internet. But, when it comes to designing an insurance or risk management program, setting coverage limits or servicing your account – you are woefully underserved without a real, live human being helping you along the way. And, this time, it’s non-negotiable that you not only know this human, but you trust and respect them.
Insurance, unlike many services, is entirely dependent on you. Your coverage is never the same as some one else’s. Like you, it’s unique. So, having someone know you and your specific circumstances is critical. You will rely on this person to give you sound advice, help you through claims and be proactive in making sure you are 100% covered.
Now that we’ve made it perfectly clear that websites and 800 numbers are no substitute for the real thing, it gets more complex. Have you ever asked your agent what makes them different from their competitors? No? Well, you should. After all, you shouldn’t be dealing with just anybody, right? Chances are, his/her response will include how great their service is. OK, fine. But, how do they define great? That, is a much harder question. Many agent/brokers don’t define it at all. They say they have great service, but that’s where it ends.
Many agencies have never given much thought to it. “We say we have great service, so it must be great.” Here are a few questions to ask your agent or broker to determine if they are truly service oriented:
- “Am I in a service center?” This should be a deal breaker if the answer is yes. It basically means that your account is too small for the agency to service it themselves, so they outsource that function to the insurance company. So, even though you have an agent, your “agent” never actually manages your account. Does that sound like an agency that cares about you?
- “Do you have a service contract?” This will spell out what both parties expect out of the relationship. While this may not be something that smaller accounts need, a more complicated commercial account should absolutely require it. It will outline how many visits you expect, what risk management advice you wish to receive and other important things. Plus, you can use it as a measuring stick at this end of the policy period to “grade” the performance.
- “Does the agent handling my account specialize in my area of need?” Most agents are generalists. They can do a little bit of everything. But, similar to a general practitioner in medicine, a generalist can only take you so far before a specialist is called in. We recommend finding an insurance professional with a proven focus in whatever type of insurance you need to purchase. Need homeowners insurance for a high-value home? Make sure your insurance agent works with similar clients and has access to companies that offer specialized coverage for these types of individuals. This is true for all types of insurance. Find someone who specializes in people like you.
There are many other questions to ask, but if these all come back with positive responses- chances are good that you are with a true professional with a focus on providing top service. You have a right to good service. There are far too many agents out there that would happily work with you and give you the level of attention that you need (and are already paying for!).