Find the right homeowners insurance agent
February 22, 2021 —
If you’ve never purchased insurance before, you might think of it as a transactional experience – a negotiation process to get the coverage you desire at a price that makes sense in your budget. But if you’ve ever had to file a claim, you know buying insurance isn’t just a transaction—it’s assurance for uncertain times.
Working with the right insurance agent not only makes selecting the best coverage simpler, but when you create a relationship with an agent, you have a partner to walk with you through life’s most challenging moments.
When it comes to choosing an agent, deciding who to work with will be personal to you, but there are some attributes you’ll want to look for to help make your experience a positive one, and one that will protect your American dream for years to come.
Work with an empathetic and understanding individual.
Empathy may not seem high on the priority list when you’re looking for an insurance agent, but you have to remember this isn’t a one-and-done-purchase. The person you chose to help you select the right insurance product might very well be the person who talks you through filing a claim when your home has been damaged. While it’s hard to imagine something like that happening, if you’ve just lost everything in a fire or a storm, you won’t be at your best and you’ll want someone you can connect with and who understands what you’re going through to help you through that process. Empathy isn’t only critical after you’ve purchased the policy.
“We have agents in California who care so much that before they bind a policy, they go out to the homeowner’s property and help them understand their brush exposure,” said Suzanne Morrow, VP National Accounts and Field Sales for SageSure. “People see the images of forests burning, but they don’t understand how the images could affect them personally. That’s the kind of agent you want.”
Find a partner you can trust to help you protect your home.
Working with someone you trust might seem like a no-brainer when you’re making a significant purchase with lasting impacts, but it can’t be overlooked.
“With all the commodities and goods you purchase, insurance is different,” Morrow said. “We’re in the relationship business. We’re selling promises. That’s really what an insurance policy is. We promise to be here on your worst day and help you put your life back together quickly.”
When you’re purchasing something you can’t see or feel or experience at the time of the transaction, you have to trust the person you’re working with to feel confident in your purchase.
Don’t overlook an agent’s credentials.
Don’t stop once you’ve found an empathetic agent and someone you can trust. It might go without saying, but you need to assess their qualifications as well. All agents need licensure in their state. Highly qualified agents will likely also participate in life-long learning initiatives that give them an upper hand in trends and strategies that enable them to provide the best experience and product for their clients.
“All agents need to be appointed with a carrier,” Morrow said. “This means their companies have done their homework and approved doing business with them. Are they offering highly rated companies? Carriers that are highly rated aren’t going to give their products to just anyone.”
Search for an agent that can provide continuous financial stability.
Purchasing insurance isn’t only about getting the right product at the right price. A factor in pricing that many individuals don’t consider when buying insurance is that some carriers come into markets with desirable prices but without the financial stability to withstand the market changes or recurring storms. When this happens, insurance carriers sometimes need to notify property owners that they can no longer provide coverage in their area because of risk management concerns. Look for a company that offers many types of insurance products to help ensure the right solution to meet the varied needs of the market.
Partner with someone who takes time to help you understand all your options.
Approach buying insurance the same way you would a doctor reviewing your choices for a medical diagnosis or procedure. Ultimately the decision is yours, but you need to extract all the knowledge, wisdom and experience you can before deciding.
“A good agent is going to talk to you about options you didn’t know existed,” Morrow said. “Trust your insurance agent to help you understand and make good choices and give you good advice.”
Good agents find gaps in coverages and can help explain the exposure to their clients without using scare tactics. Beyond a standard policy, your agent can provide optional coverages that can enhance your protection and might otherwise be excluded. Examples include water back up, a rider for personal property (which protects jewelry and antiques), identity theft restoration and electronic data recovery, and equipment coverage breakdown.
Preparing for the unforeseen isn’t easy. In most cases, there’s no warning before disaster strikes. Having the right insurance to protect your greatest asset is the best assurance.
“Avoiding the heartbreak of not having an appropriate coverage when you need it is what every good agent is trying to provide,” Morrow said.
If something bad happens you want to be restored – back in the same position before your worst day happened. The best agents make sure that happens, and it starts with finding the right policy.