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1. Auto Insurance Coverage Reviews:

A. Liability Coverage
B. Uninsured and underinsured Motorist Coverages
C. Medical coverage
D. Auto Collision coverage
E. Comprehensive Coverage
F. Miscellaneous coverages

2. Valuable Resources

A. Rate Comparisons
B. Complaint Ratio List
C. The State Guarantee Fund
D. When and How to File a Complaint
3. Selecting an insurance company
A. Company Reputation
B. Price, Service and Size
C. 12 Questions to Ask
D. Selecting an Agent
E. Independent Agents Vs. Captive Agents
F. How to Resolve a Problem
G. What Can an Insurance Company Find out About You?
4. Claim process
- Settling a Bodily Injury Liability Claim
Discounts Available from Most Auto Insurance Companies
The Savings Calculator
Selecting an Agent Used Car History

Five Qualities Your Agent Should Possess to
do the Kind of Job You Deserve

If you're still not comfortable purchasing auto insurance without an agent, let
me explain how to select a qualified agent.

1. Does the agent

have at least five years experience?
The last person you want as an insurance agent is a new agent. Not that he
or she wouldn't make a good agent, it's just that because of the way the industry is
changing you want one with experience. You not only want an agent with experience
in the insurance industry, but preferably with the company you have selected. The
five year time frame gives the agent valuable experience and also shows stability on
the part of the agent which is very important. In addition, it adds to the agent's credibility with the insurance company. If a problem was to arise, an experienced
agent may be able to do things for you that a new agent could not do. If any agent
could make a difference, it would be the experienced agent. However, as with many
insurance companies, the agent has virtually no say as to what the company does.
In most cases, the insurance company will move faster for you than for the agent.
Usually a complaint made by the consumer directly to the company will receive
greater attention than an agent trying to solve the same problem. Many times I've
told a customer that I've done all that I can, why not call the company personally.
Guess what? They were able to get the problem resolved with one phone call that I
couldn't resolve with many calls. The consumer's voice has clout!

2. Is the Agent an Award Winning or Superstar Agent?
If you walk into a prospective agent's office and see numerous plaques on the
wall, chances are you may want to select another agent. The main reason for this is
most property and casualty companies push their life insurance products on the
auto insurance buyer, via the auto insurance agent. Most, if not all awards, are for
life insurance production. I can't remember the last time there was an auto insurance
production contest. What's wrong with awards for life insurance production you
may ask? Let me take this opportunity to explain what I believe is wrong with them.

Most major insurance companies keep their agency force for the purpose of
selling life insurance to their auto insurance customers. Usually their products are
far more expensive than life only companies. If you want to purchase life insurance,
you are far better off going to someone who is a life insurance broker and can shop
rates for you. There are several brokers that use 800 numbers, and with a single
phone call, can supply you with five or more quotes from top rated companies at
greatly reduced prices. They can do this because they have cut out the middleman,
the agent. Major casualty and life companies with agents pay commissions as high
as 100% or more of the first year's premium plus smaller percentages for renewals
beyond that time frame. It's expensive for an agent to come to your home to sell you
a policy; and you're paying a much higher premium for that service!
I believe in life insurance but you need to do some careful shopping before
you buy. Usually term insurance is the best for the money.

So back to my original point. If the agent is a top award winner, you can
almost bet at some point you will be pressured to buy life insurance. Unfortunately,
many people buy these inferior life insurance products that are not always suited to
meet their needs from this type of agent. It makes a person of conscience ill
knowing what is taking place. Many people who have bought these policies from
prior agents have said to me, "I don't know why I bought the policy." I too, have
wondered the same!

3. Does the Agent Have an Office With Low Visibility?
You don't want an agent who has an office on a neighborhood corner or in a
shopping center. Generally, a high percentage of "walk in" business is the least
desirable type of client an agent can have. If an agent has high exposure to "walk
in" business, he or she will be occupied with customers that require a great deal of
time and attention, and the agent will experience a high turnover in his or her customer
base. This type of clientele will cause the agent to do a greater amount of non-
productive work, reducing time which could be better spent doing things of value,
such as reviewing your account periodically to ensure your policies are rated correctly, that you're receiving all the discounts you are entitled to, and as things change in the company, you benefit from those changes.

An agent located in an office complex that is harder to locate is the preferred
location. The major advantage to this location is "walk in" business is almost non-
existent; therefore, the agent has more time to service your account because the
problems listed above are eliminated. The other advantage is the agent who is hard
to find by the casual shopper has to be a good agent in order to build his or her
agency and survive. They have to build their agency by working hard and giving
excellent service! In many instances, the agent on the street corner lacks the
incentive to go out and find new customers. They would rather wait for the customers
to come to them. This attitude will be reflected in the quality of service you

4. Does the Agent Have Proper Staffing?
You want to be sure the agent's office is properly staffed so that your account
will be handled promptly and efficiently. Don't expect to be treated as though you
are the only customer, but in most cases, your call should be returned the same
business day or at least an attempt made by the agent or his or her staff to do so.
Some signs of an improperly staffed office are as follows:

1) you're put on hold for more than two minutes;

2) you get a recording or voice mail during business hours; or

3) you have delays in getting paperwork or claims processed in a timely

This is the type of office you want to avoid! The best way to detect proper
staffing is to visit the office personally and observe the general atmosphere of the
office. Does the environment seem hurried? Are calls waiting on hold? Do the
desks look cluttered and unorganized, or is there a sense of calm and control? It
should be obvious which type of office you would want to do business with!

5. Does the Agent Have Time to Personally Meet You?
If the prospective agent doesn't have time to meet with you personally, chances
are you may want to select another agent. While it's true that a staff member can
properly service your account in the future, you should meet the agent initially so
you get a feel for what type of person he or she is. Remember, the staff's attitude
and office environment are a reflection of the agent.

Additional Information On Agent Selection
What About Recommendations from Friends?
A recommendation from a friend is a good starting place. If your friend is
happy with the agent, chances are you will be too. However, you would be wise to
use due diligence as outlined in this section, and not go solely on the friend's


Phone or Mail Solicitation

This is probably the worst way to buy auto or any other type of insurance.

Generally, you will find new agents doing this type of solicitation to get started in the
business. There is nothing wrong with it, but you won't get the quality and experience
you want. Let's face it, that's how I started, but that was over 20 years ago! You
would be better served using other methods to shop for your auto insurance, e.g.,
the Internet, the use of 800 numbers, and other methods of discount mass marketing
which are replacing the traditional methods of today.

Many times through error, inexperience or outright fraud, the agent will quote
you an incorrect rate. When the policy is issued, you find the rate quoted versus
the rate of the issued policy is different! Has this ever happened to you? Often it
turns out you would have been better off to have stayed with your prior insurance
company than make the change. Some agents do this on purpose knowing that
most people, because of pride, will pay the higher price of the new company rather
than return to their prior insurance company. This kind of activity is common practice,
especially among new agents.

As I've said before, the days of the auto insurance agent are numbered,
so you might as well be prepared to do it yourself.

Auto Insurance Comparison rate quotes:

Esurance Compare auto insurance quotes from several different auto insurance companies instantly.

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US Insurance - Currently over 5,000 insurance agents representing over 100 insurance companies subscribe to US Insurance. Provide you with as many as 5 competitive auto insurance quotes from the nation's auto insurance companies.

Kanetix – Compare up to 4 quotes from multiple Auto Insurance companies.


Direct quote from the auto insurance companies:

21st Century Insurance Company

Electric Insurance


Independent Agents Vs. Captive Agents Used Car History


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