Meeting with your insurance agentHow to prepare
Insurance protects what you value. The insurance agent you choose must be someone who always acts in your best interests. He should be knowledgeable, experienced, and show good judgment. You must be able to trust him. For advice about how to choose an insurance agent, click here.
Decide what you want covered
- Autos, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles
- House, condominium, apartment
Decide how much you want to pay
Before you meet with the agent, you should think about (1) how much risk you want the insurance company to assume for you and (2) how much risk you want to assume for yourself. (To learn more about how insurance companies assume risk, see How insurance works.)
The more risk you are willing to assume for yourself, the lower your payments to the insurance company will be. The risk that you are willing to assume for yourself is called a deductible. If you are willing to accept a high deductible, your insurance payments will be lower, but if disaster strikes, you will end up paying more of the costs yourself. (To learn more about deductibles, see How insurance works.)
Do your homework
- Learn what you can about the insurance agency you’re going to meet. Ask people you trust about insurance agencies they have worked with. Contact the Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner’s Office to ensure the agency you are going to talk to is licensed in Wisconsin. For more tips, click here.
- Learn what you can about the insurance companies the agency represents. Gather information from businesses that work with insurance companies, such as body shops and restoration companies. Visit websites that rate insurance companies for their financial stability and customer satisfaction. For more tips, click here.
If you want your agent to give you good advice, he must be able to trust you to give him good answers to his questions. He must be confident in your ability to make good choices for yourself and for your family. You should come to your meeting prepared to give him truthful and complete information, so that he can recommend the policies that are best for you.
When you make an appointment with an insurance agent for the first time, ask him if there is anything you should bring with you to the meeting.
So, it’s a good idea to come to the meeting with the information you need to answer his questions.
- Autos, trucks, motorcycles, recreational vehicles – Bring copies of driver’s licenses and automobile registration information to your meeting. Be ready to answer questions about all the drivers in your family: their age, sex, driving record, driving training, how much they drive each year, and whether they smoke or talk on their cell phones while driving. The agent will want to know how much each vehicle is worth and whether it has been in any accidents. (back to top)
- House, condominium, apartment – If you want to protect your home from theft or damage, the insurance agent will want information about the size of the house, the furniture and possessions you keep there, the neighborhood, the age and structure of the house, whether anyone in the family smokes, and the presence of alarms. Be sure to let your agent know if you own a trampoline or a swimming pool. Homeowner’s insurance can also protect you financially if someone is injured on your property. (back to top)
- Business – Before you meet your agent, pay a professional to do a risk assessment, and bring the report to your meeting. Your agent will want to know about:
- Employees – How many employees you have and how dangerous their work is.
- Property – Your building, contents, equipment; whether you own or rent.
- Nature of business – Whether someone could be hurt by your products or injured by your work (such as tripping over a hole dug by a workman).
- Vehicles – How many and what kind of cars and trucks your company owns, rents, or uses.
- Key employees – How indispensable you are to the operation of your business. If you or another key employee were to become disabled or die, would your business suffer?
- Health – Bring information about every one in your family: their, age, medical condition, medical history, and personal habits (such as drinking, smoking, wearing a seat belt in the car). The agent will also ask you about your family’s health history. (back to top)
- Life – Life insurance will help your family pay their bills if you die, including the cost of your funeral. Be ready to answer questions about how much debt you have and how much your family will need to live on after your passing. (back to top)
- Write down the questions you want to ask so you don’t forget during your meeting.
- Remember, you are not merely looking for good coverage at a good price. You are also looking for an agent who will give you the attention and advice you deserve.
Ready to meet?
My wife and I have found that the policy recommendations by Affordable Family Insurance have saved us nearly $200/year. That is some real cash. Dennis Bertz showed us where we were lacking in coverage and wasting money in others. If you haven’t checked your insurance policies lately, you really should give AFI a call.