Hi, I’m Leland Hart. I’m an insurance agent with Judd Insurance, your local insurance agency in Birch Run area. Thanks for reading our blog today! I know what you’re thinking: “I’ve been waiting for this for my whole life; I have so many questions about insurance that I need answers to! When will he talk about my particularly specific insurance need?” Wow, random enthusiastic reader, I really appreciate that thought and your appropriate use of a semi-colon! Hopefully we’ll be able to start answering questions you’ve always had about insurance, but were afraid (or just didn’t know) to ask.
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about how having a local insurance agent (particularly here at Judd Insurance) is a good idea.
There are two ways (probably more, buts we’ll focus on 2) that you can buy insurance now-a-days. The first way is taking your insurance need, talking to a licensed local insurance agent, and using their recommendations to buy insurance. The second way is by contacting your insurance company directly and buying everything straight from the insurance company.
Wait a minute, you say, aren’t you a local insurance agent? You’re biased!
Stop! Bias Time?
Yes, I am a local insurance agent. Yes, I am biased. Yes, that creates a bit of an awkward zone.
I would like to make my case for why you should use agents anyway instead of buying direct.
Many thanks to Jeph Jaques for the image
First, let me explain that I (and about 5 other agents at Judd Insurance) are all licensed agents. That means that, according the great State of Michigan (specifically the Department of Insurance and Financial Services), we have attained enough knowledge and skills to pass a seriously hard series of tests on Property, Casualty, Health, and/or Life Insurance, while maintaining our skills through Continuing Education coursework throughout the year. While that doesn’t necessarily mean every agent knows everything about insurance (take it from me, since I certainly don’t), it still means that we are likely to be more knowledgeable about insurance than the layperson.
When a non-insurance person tries to get insurance, they can be bombarded by numbers, coverage types, jargon, and other things when they decide to buy insurance. I mean, just look at what Questy has to deal with here:
Questy is NOT an insurance agent
Unfortunately for Questy, he may see all the ads on radio, the internet, television, a billboard, a banner pulled by an airplane, or that weird forehead temporary tattoo advertising that is out there now.
It’s not a joke – it’s real. Leaseyourbody.com!
The ad may say something like, “Call 1-80CHEAPINS to get your free quote for Insurance!” or “Visit our Website and get a free quote in 2 minutes!” accompanied by stories of people who claim to have saved ba-jillions of dollars on their insurance using the advertised service.
Here’s the real crazy thing: you might save a few bucks by going that way. CHEAP INSURANCE might actually have cheap insurance. Obviously, CHEAP INSURANCE (the capital letters aren’t a typo, they always shout their name in the ads) doesn’t have to pay local agents to sell their products, so they can afford to charge you a little less. Plus, they can afford to put out money for massive ad campaigns, so you see their ads right between the ones for a Sham-wow and the Slap-chop.
“But Leland,” Questy pleads, “if I can save money by going direct to my insurance company, why shouldn’t I just do that?”
Well, Questy, the obvious question is whether you want to deal with all those boxes swirling around you in that previous graphic, or do you want some help? Instead of you dealing with those issues, here is what it could look like for you:
Having an agent means that we will do the work of preparing the quote, checking the price, getting good coverage together, making sure its legally compliant, and making sure it is within state guidelines. If you ever have to make a claim, having an agent is a huge advantage, because we do some of the leg-work for you. Since we have to work in the industry, we have training in all these areas. We are, in a word, experts.
Outside of the obvious ease of the workload on the consumer, I also think it’s important to have an expert work on things for you. When I need a plumbing job done, I generally call a plumber. Since someone who represents themselves in court has an idiot for a client, I call a lawyer when I have issues with the law. If I need something built, I call a builder. I’m sure with a lot of training and a few years of experience, I could do plumbing, building, and legal work, but I’m a full-time insurance agent, so I call an expert.
I have seen more than a few people who have had issues with buying direct from an insurance company:
- Some people end up buying more insurance than they need
- Some people don’t buy enough insurance
- Some people have good coverage on most things, but are paying a lot for silly bells and whistles
- Some people have bad claims experiences
- Some people buy the wrong product for their needs
Now that’s a lot of problems! Examples are pretty easy to give. I’ve helped people with full coverage on ancient vehicles (they had more insurance than they needed), and I’ve helped people with liability limits that are laughably low (didn’t buy enough insurance). I’ve seen odd extra riders on otherwise good policies, which has cost people a little more money each month than they need to pay (issue #3). My wife had a horrible claims experience calling 1-800 numbers and being on hold for 4 hours (years before we met) after buying direct insurance. Finally, I’ve had to tell a very ill person that their life insurance is not going to cover them since they bought accidental death life insurance instead of Term or Whole Life policies.
It happens. It happens a lot, to people who I’d otherwise think were sensible, reasonable people (also, beautiful and long-suffering in the case of my wife J). One of the issues is that contacting an insurance company directly can mean you are focused on savings over coverage, or that you are clicking check-boxes you don’t know the purpose of. Really, by buying direct you are playing with fire. Sometimes, you get burned.
There are so many reasons I think that you and Questy should use an agent. Whether it’s our expertise, our availability, or our ability to compare and contrast companies, I think we treat our clients better and deliver more service.
My final thoughts: Do you deal with a local agent for your insurance, or did you talk with an insurance company directly? Have you ever tried to make a claim with only a 1-800 number to call? Do you like pressing 1 for English, 3 for yes, and being told that the hold time is 16 hours while they play smooth jazz? Do you want an insurance expert giving you insurance advice?
If you find yourself unsure of or dissatisfied with your current insurance, or you just want an opportunity to look at your options, please email, call, or come on by Judd Insurance agency. We’d also love to hear if you have some topics you want to hear more about in the insurance world.
Thanks for reading, and tune in for our next blog post: How the Heck does Auto Insurance Work?