Good Help is Hard to Find
Good Help is Hard to Find
Posted by Tory Nelson onSubscribe to our blog
I recently completed my first insurance purchase with an independent producer. In the midst of a rapid close on a new home, my then-carrier informed me, with only a few days to go, that they would not underwrite the property, despite having provided me with an estimated quote two weeks prior (why they wouldn’t underwrite it is a topic for another post!). I found myself scrambling to find coverage during the critical few days leading up to close, and I felt anxious at the prospect of purchasing policies with a new, unfamiliar carrier. I knew that I needed to shop around and get as many quotes as I could, in order to identify the best coverage and competitive discounts.
My real estate agent, my mortgage broker, and my former direct agent (kudos to them for that service) all recommended independent agents to me, and I called each agent with the relevant details. As the quotes came in, and once I felt reassured that there were insurers willing to underwrite my home, I became fascinated by the variety of quotes that came back, even when they were from the same carrier.
What became clear to me in the course of the discussions that followed was that these agents had a range of experience. One agent was better at finding discounts for the property and making recommendations about how to qualify for discounts by investing in additional protection for my home. I’m currently saving up for a heat-activated sprinkler system! But a different agent was better at recommending different coverage levels and finding discounts for the auto policy, which I needed for that essential multi-line discount. I’m an analytical and technical type, and I tend to shop a combination of on-line stores and brick and mortar businesses with my own special, secret little calculus of best price, how soon I need it, and whether the local shop is a small business that I would like to see stick around. The same extends to insurance; I always want to find out as much as I can to maximize the value I receive (while respecting a boundary of the minimum acceptable coverage). The opaqueness of the independent agent transaction bugged me. On a couple of occasions, I had to squelch an intense desire to reach through the phone and grab the keyboard! But I also felt less than safe relying on someone else to find the right combination of coverages for me and to identify all the right discounts.
Now, there were only a couple of carriers that would underwrite my property and therefore compete for my business. And there were a handful of agents. But I can imagine if my home were in a different location, where there are lots of carriers competing, and I actually feel relieved that I didn’t have to wade through more quotes than I did, piecing together the right set of policies for me and asking my agent to re-quote me for the Nth time. I also think about how different my experience would have been if there was a level playing field among my agents; if they had all come back quickly with the same sets of quotes with the same discounts, and had explained all the coverages and the discounts in the same way.
If there had been consistency in my experience, I would be able to relax more, and trust that my agent and my carrier would continue to seek to maximize the value I get out of my policies. I would be able to choose the agent who was most responsive to me, rather than picking the agent who did the best on discounts for the more expensive policy. Instead, as more competition arrives in my neighborhood, I will continue to evaluate and look for different quotes and act as my own Independent Agent.
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