Over the past several years, insurance agents have taken a beating worthy of a Medieval stoning in the town square. The direct writers (think GEICO, SafeAuto, The General for example), consistently push the message that buying direct from them is the best way to purchase insurance. Which by its very message, basically says that insurance agents are unnecessary and not valuable. Hmmm, there’s a feel-good message if I ever saw one 😉
I’ve come to the conclusion that unless agents actually speak out AGAINST this message, then we have no one to blame but ourselves when we’re NOT chosen. And it starts with education. Education about the many roles insurance agents fill in today’s society- and it’s so far beyond merely selling a policy, it’s laughable.
And let me be very clear- the direct route may actually be the best route for some consumers depending on their situation. BUT if we don’t educate them on the differences, they won’t ever have any way to compare. And that’s the point of this post- to obliterate the stereotype and perception of what an insurance agent actually is and does. To give the consumer information to be able to make the best decision based on his situation.
Of course, I’m terribly biased 😉 But perhaps when you see the many roles an insurance agent performs, you may change your mind as to the value of an insurance agent.
Who This Post Is For
You can get many types of insurance policies in two ways: direct from the company OR via an agent like me. If you’re a consumer wondering which method would work best for you, the point of this post is to educate you on what roles insurance agents actually perform and the benefit to you. I want to move beyond the idea that agents are merely “policy pushers.” We’ve lived under that cloud for too long and this post will show you how wrong that perception really is. We perform many roles, with one underlying goal- to help you make good decisions about what matters to you.
Also, this post will give you ammunition to decide whether your current agent or one you’re researching is a good choice or not (for a deeper dive, read my post “How to Tell If Your Insurance Agent is a Problem Solver or a Problem Creator”).
If you’ve ever had trouble articulating what you do for a living, share this post. The deep dive I take here goes far beyond what I’ve read and is long overdue. We can no longer sit back and let the public make assumptions. It’s our job to educate the public on our value or we have no one to blame but ourselves when they DON’T choose us. So take action and spread the word. Your industry will thank you. And so will I.
Here’s a list of the many roles insurance agents fill based on my personal experience- please feel free to include additional roles in the comments.
I’ve lost count how many times I’ve jumped into the middle of a claim when another insurance company hasn’t been responsive. I’ve gotten police reports, called other agencies to find the responsible party and even turned in claims directly to the other insurance company after some research. I’ve spoken with the other company’s adjuster if my client asked me to. I’ve negotiated with body shops and dispatched contractors for immediate repairs when a residence is suddenly damaged.
Not only with other companies, but if I believe my customer’s own insurance company is being unfair, I’ll get in the middle there too.
The truth is, most people don’t really understand what insurance they have until the claim happens. And when it does, I’m there to navigate them through and advocate for them should a problem come up. I speak the “language” if you will, and have been able to get many claims resolved for my customer.
I also advocate on my customer’s behalf with the insurance company on a variety of service and underwriting situations. The company wants to a cancel a policy in 30 days because of a roof issue? I’ve contacted the customer, gotten the back story (such as hospitalization or domestic issue), explained the situation to the underwriter and struck a bargain for additional time. I know my customers and can often plead their case based on circumstance.
The bottom line is this- we are here to stand up for and defend our customers when no one else will. And often that’s during one of the most stressful times of their lives.
I jokingly call our agency “Floyd’s Barbershop”, because so many people stop by for information. Three of our staff have lived in Bellefontaine our entire lives, so there’s a wealth of history to pull from. We’ve all managed to build good size networks, so chances are, you call in and ask if we know if there’s someone that does XYZ, we’ll probably be able to lead you in the right direction. Or direct you to the appropriate department or building within our government, school systems or community at large.
I love connecting people. And most insurance agents come into contact with a wide range of industries. Real estate, banking, construction trades, government, the list goes on. So not only are we good at helping people find insurance solutions, we’re good at helping them find solutions for so many other daily issues/problems.
Many times I’ve gotten a phone call that goes like this- “You know a lot of people, so I thought you might be able to help me.” That’s awesome. Because by helping my community build stronger connections, we’re building a stronger community.
And while we’re on the topic of community, many local agencies give handsomely to their community. Whether through money or time, there is a significant investment with one end goal- to help the people that help us. My community has allowed me to make a living doing what I love and helping to support my family. I owe it to my community to repay that opportunity.
Some of our highlights over the past years include adopting 2 families at Christmas and buying them household goods & food (complete with wrapped packages), helping pay for mammograms for those that can’t afford it, sponsoring fire safety programs, collecting toys at Christmas for families in need, and contributing money to buy bulletproof vests for our police department and a police drug dog.
There’s a lot more I could discuss, but no matter what, the message is still the same- we contribute to our community because they contribute to our success. And without a strong community, there isn’t much chance for success is there? You can view and read about the fun community events we’ve participated in.
Friend in Times of Need
Yes, I’ve held customers hands as they’ve cried during a personal crisis. I’ve sat with them, I’ve hugged them after losing loved ones. I’ve attended countless viewings, funerals and memorial services. Because at those times, that is what they needed. With many of my customers, I’ve gotten the privilege of becoming their friends too. And that is truly a special phenomenon. So I get to share in their joys and their sorrows. And I consider that a privilege.
Of course, one of the main reasons I do what I do is to educate (and why I write too). To break down complicated concepts and put them into simpler terms. To put those concepts into real-world situations so you can relate. So you can connect the dots between what I’m saying and your own life. To understand how your policies work and how taking action on one policy can affect others either positively or negatively. To take what I say and use it for what it’s intended- to make good decisions about your life. My most satisfying moments are still those where the customer says “NOW I understand” after I’ve given an explanation. Those light bulb moments are a main reason why I do what I do.
So, there’s my manifesto if you will. Agents, spread the word. Consumers, if I’ve shed some light on this often misunderstood occupation called “insurance agent”, then I’m thankful. If I’ve led you to reconsider using an agent, then I’m especially thankful. Because we’re real people like you. And our main goal is simple- to help our community prosper and enable our customers to make good decisions about issues that affect their lives and what’s most important to them. That’s the true value of an insurance agent.
In Ohio and want to work with me? You can reach me at (937) 592-4871 or contact me.