|Insurance Buying Tips #1: Shop smart|
|When looking for insurance, your No. 1 priority should be to find adequate coverage. Price is important, but you’ll want to determine what kind of coverage you need first. Then you can fit that coverage into your budget and determine which carrier can provide you with the most comprehensive policy for your situation. You may be tempted to choose insurance with the lowest price tag, but if you don’t have enough coverage (or the right kind of coverage), you will see less financial benefit when it comes time to file a claim.|
|Insurance Buying Tips #2: Look for discounts|
|Once you evaluate your coverage needs, factor in your budget and find ways to save. Ask your insurance agent if there are any discounts on your coverage. Often, carriers offer discounts for things like paying your policy in full, staying auto accident-free or, if you’re in school, getting good grades. You also can save money by “bundling” multiple policies, such as purchasing a home and auto policy from the same carrier.|
|Insurance Buying Tips #3: Fill in the gaps|
|An average policy will cover the basics, but you may need to add extra coverage to meet your unique needs. For instance, you may have items like electronics or a nice piece of jewelry that would be financially difficult to replace, even with the assistance of your average renters or homeowners policy. You may want to add additional coverage for these items.|
Starting a career as an independent insurance agent has it rewards. There is unlimited earning potential based upon the number of policies you underwrite from new and existing clients. Some agents work out of an office, and others work out of their homes when they are first starting out. Yet others get started as an insurance agent working for another independent agent.
A typical day involves balancing your time effectively between three primary tasks: soliciting new clients, managing existing clients and their accounts, and filling out paperwork. The goal to be a successful agent is to spend as much time as possible attracting new business, followed by account management, with the least amount of time spent completing paperwork. However, achieving this goal can seem challenging, even for some of the most experienced agents.
Unfortunately, what commonly occurs is a reverse of this goal, where more time is spent on paperwork and the least amount of time is spent bringing in new clients. The paperwork process is rather detailed, and requires filling out forms correctly and accurately. What tends to happen is the initial paperwork to start an insurance policy is completed incorrectly, sent into the insurance provider, and then returned due to some error on the forms. Now the entire process has to be started over from the beginning by filling out new forms. One way to prevent getting into what seems like an endless cycle of filling out paperwork, submitting it, and correcting errors is to verify that every detail on the forms is completed accurately the first time.
Another way to ensure the time spent on paperwork is reduced is to utilize technology and create a forms library containing all of the necessary forms for all of the insurance providers you work with, and store them in one place on your computer, network server, or in the Cloud. Otherwise, every time you need to fill out forms, you waste time obtaining them directly from the insurance provider. In addition, it is recommended to keep at least one full set of hardcopy blank forms on hand, sorted by provider in a filing cabinet, in the event of computer, network, or Internet problems.
|Insurance Buying Tips #4: Purchase life insurance—you aren’t too young|
|Life insurance is essential, no matter how young or old you are. And for millennials, buying now may be a smart move because it’s cheaper to buy a life insurance policy when you’re young and healthy. This kind of insurance can help your family cover unexpected costs in your absence, including student loan debt or a mortgage, in addition to end-of-life costs. And if you have kids, a life insurance policy can also support their education or childcare expenses. Additionally, every millennial should consider long-term disability coverage, which helps you stay afloat financially if an accident happens and you become disabled and unable to work.|
|Insurance Buying Tips #5: Talk to an independent agent|
|An independent insurance agent is an essential resource when purchasing insurance—especially if this is your first time. An independent agent works with multiple different carriers, which is different from captive agents who can only sell insurance from the carrier they work for. Working with an independent agent can help make sure that you are getting the best coverage, for the best price. You’ll also benefit from independent agents’ insurance knowledge; they know how to talk you through your options and actually explain what each policy includes. An independent agent will make sure all of your assets are covered, help you find discounts or other ways to save, and be a valuable resource as your life changes and your insurance needs change, too.|
|Insurance Buying Tips #6: Only buy insurance to maintain your existing standard of living|
|You don’t need insurance for events that won’t severely strain your finances. Start with your basic needs (home, auto, business), then work your way to include other needs (cyber, liability). You can always obtain coverage later for something if you change your mind. You can minimize your risk and maximize your savings by buying insurance that won’t cause you to break the bank.|
How to Become an Independent Insurance Agent
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of insurance agent you want to become. Do you want to sell life insurance, health and accident insurance, or property and casualty insurance for renters, homeowners, and automobiles? Each type of insurance does require obtaining different licenses from your state. Some agents focus on one specific insurance product, while others diversify and offer a wider range of insurance products.
Once you decide what insurance products you want to sell, the next step to becoming an independent agent is to contact your state's insurance licensing department. The procedures for becoming an insurance agent vary from one state to the next, but, for the most part, are similar:
- Download an Insurance Agent Application: Each type of insurance can have its own application. For instance, if you want to sell both life and health insurance products, you may have to complete and submit two applications.
- Register and Complete the Appropriate Insurance Pre Licensing Courses: You must complete the correct insurance classes for the type of insurance you want to sell. Courses are broken down into individual products and combined products, like life, health, and accident; property; casualty; combined life, health, and accident; or combined property and casualty.
- Take and Pass an Insurance Agent Exam: There are a set number of questions on each license exam that are normally multiple choice questions. In order to obtain your license, you must satisfy the minimum passing percentage established by your state.
- Pay a State Licensing Fee: There is a fee you have to pay to obtain your license.
- Complete a Background Screening: States may require a background screening with fingerprinting before they will issue your license.
- Obtain Insurance License: After completing the courses and passing the exam and background screening, your state issues your license, and you are able to start selling as an independent agent.
Keep in mind, you are responsible to pay all costs associated to obtain your insurance license. If you were hired by another independent agent, they sometimes do offer to reimburse you for part of the costs as long as you meet their terms and conditions for employment with their business.
|Insurance Buying Tips #7: Ask your insurance provider what the policy doesn’t cover|
|Every insurance policy has perils that are not covered by your policy. These perils are referred to as “exclusions”, and every policy has them. Ask your insurance provider to explain the exclusions in your policy to avoid discovering what they are once you incur damages or a loss.|
|Insurance Buying Tips #8: Consider bundling several policies with one insurance carrier|
|here may be value in bundling several policies with one insurance carrier. If you’re looking to insure multiple vehicles or obtain multiple types of business coverage (e.g., liability, property, cyber), then you may want to consider obtaining coverages under one insurance provider who carries multiple products, and who may be able to offer you multi-policy discounts or loyalty programs.|
|Insurance Buying Tips #9: Review your insurance needs on a yearly basis|
|As your needs evolve, so will your insurance policy. Maybe you’ve acquired a new vehicle since obtaining auto insurance for your primary vehicle, or started operating your business out of your home, or experienced a cyber-attack during the year… Whatever the change(s), you’ll want to make sure you’re covered for any new risk exposures. Talk to your insurance provider to stay on top of your insurance needs.|