independent agents work for you

Instead of always talking about particular coverage, I thought it would be helpful for you to know how I as an agent believe things should be done for you.  This was spurred on by reading online complaints about insurance companies by folks who were upset by premiums, claims process and overall customer service.

Your agent is your first resource

To any agent who doesn’t treat you this way you should be afraid.  Seriously.  I personally believe that if you don’t at least have your agent’s direct contact information, including cell phone, then you aren’t directly in contact with your agent.  Does this mean your agent doesn’t care?  Absolutely not.  What it indicates is that your agent is trying to be the salesperson they are.  However, while we need to sale insurance to make a living, I believe that you, as the client, understand what you need to ask your agent and which questions the customer service representatives can answer.  Giving out my personal cell phone number may be a challenge in that I am answering service calls more than “sales people” would like.  However, my thought is, if I’m out on the road, and can’t assist my client right away, I can point them in the right direction immediately.  Plus, it helps me to know what is going on with my client at all times.  I believe every agent should be concerned about EVERYTHING that a client is dealing with.  Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but actually, I truly care greatly about my client’s experience with our company.

Your agent should fight for you

The beauty of being an independent agent is that we can find the right coverage for you at all times, regardless of your claims history, insurance score, credit, etc.  I had an experience where a client called me regarding a problem on a policy that they did not have with me.  They explained that the insurance company of a driver that hit them denied a claim, so they called up their own company to receive help in the situation so that they might be indemnified.  Their current agent explained to them that there was nothing they could do, without making a single call or thinking of any possible solution.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting we work magic and every claim we bring forth is payable; however, I am suggesting that the agent should at least explain that while they don’t know if the claim is coverable, that they will do everything in their power to explore all options and exhaust them.  Had the agent explained coverage up front and then took the incident to the company for claims processing, the client would have at least been happy to know they were being looked after.  Again, not all claims are paid, but a client should know that the agent is doing everything in their power to try to get the claim paid.  Even if I don’t think a claim is payable under the policy, I still want my client to try for indemnification.  I also feel it’s important to let your client know what’s not covered up front.  Even then, submit the claim and at least put up a fight!

Your agent should work for you

I do need to point out that captive insurance is not bad.  In fact, I know of very good agents in the captive world and we work together often.  A captive agent is an agent of one company and one company alone.  Meaning that they sell you one company’s policy and can only send the policy away if their company cannot write that policy.  As an independent, we work with many companies; therefore, we work for you and you alone.  If we place a policy with company A one year and the next year you receive a large rate increase, we can always look to another company that we work with and send your business there.  Of course, we analyze the coverage you need first and then determine that the savings is worth moving your insurance.  Additionally, since re-rating does happen from time-to-time, it’s not always wise to move your coverage every year or even every two or three years.  We suggest you establish some longevity so that you can receive applicable discounts while we watch the rates of other companies.  Moving your insurance policy to save few dollars each year may not be the best option for you.  So its important to meet with your agent to understand how the rates are moving with each company and then determine if the switch is worth it.  I am in the business of loyalty to you and I will explain the options to you and leave it up to you to determine if the switch is appropriate.  Just remember, your not stuck anywhere, but it’s not always wise to make a move.

The final word

Bottom line, when things aren’t going right, your agent should be the first place you turn, not to “the company.”  The bottom line is developing trust with my client.  That trust should include that I am always making sure my clients are getting competitive pricing at the best coverage possible.  My clients should understand that I will fight for them at all times, no matter what.  If my clients can’t say that about me, then I’m not doing my job.  It’s not the faceless company representative that my clients should be concerned with, it’s me.  Likewise, I shouldn’t be so concerned with how happy I’m making a particular carrier, but how happy my client is with my service.  If you feel like you need to explore how I operate and what I can do for you, definitely give me a call.

Cody Johnson
Balsiger Insurance