Four Valuable Qualities in an Insurance Agent
September 7, 2017
Jeffrey Shupe, CIC
The other day I was talking with a new manufacturing client. During our conversation, I asked her why she decided to change agents and got a sobering answer. “My old agent made insurance confusing and was never in touch with me,” she said. “I would get fees that were never explained to me and mailings that I never signed up for.” Although there are many wonderful, reputable insurance agents, it is no secret that there are agents that simply do not adhere to professional and ethical principles. Yet how can a business owner tell the difference between the two, especially when every agent claims to have integrity and quality customer service? Below are four qualities that every reputable insurance agent will have.
A competent insurance agent will have an abundance of both education and experience. Beyond state licensing requirements, many opportunities are available to insurance agents to raise their educational competency. Some of the more noteworthy designations that an agent can earn are: CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor), CPCU (Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter), and CRM (Certified Risk Manager). In addition, a competent insurance agent will likely have a minimum of five years of experience in the industry. Thus, the agent is able to put insurance theory to practical use when writing policies. The agent should also have a large professional network both face to face and on social media. While education and experience are not a guarantee that an agent will be competent, they are the necessary foundation for any competent agent to build upon.
Just because an agent is competent doesn’t mean that he is an honest businessman. Every single reputable insurance agent will insure you for what you need. The agent will not over insure or underinsure you to save himself time or make a questionable profit. While integrity is an internal character quality, there are outward signs of an agent with integrity. An honest insurance agent will recommend specific types of coverage for you, clearly explain why he believes you need them, and will not push the coverage on you if you decline to purchase it. On the other hand, the agent will do his best to save you money on premium and will tell you if there’s coverage that he doesn’t believe that you need. While an agent is seeking to write a good policy for the insured, honesty is the best policy that the agent can write. I recently reviewed a policy where the agency included specific and expensive liability coverages in relation to employees. The problem is that this business had three partners, but no employees. This example demonstrates either a competency issue with the current agent, an integrity issue, or both.
With competency and integrity as a foundation, a good insurance agent will be in good communication with their clients. The agent will return phone calls and emails in a timely manner and will schedule appointments as soon as reasonably possible. I know of a business owner who emailed and called his agent for over three months to simply get a copy of his current policy. The agent never responded or fulfilled his request. Unfortunately, that lack of communication cost the agent a twenty-year business relationship. In addition, a professional agent will clearly communicate all aspects of your policy to you including coverage, exclusions, premiums due, protocol for claims, and expiration dates. No part of the process should be confusing or ambiguous and a good agent will be able to clear up any vagueness in any part of the process.
DOING UNTO OTHERS
‘Do unto others as you would have them do to you’ will be the driving force behind an insurance agent, or anyone for that matter, who values those who the individual comes in contact with. ‘Do to others’ can be applied daily to clients in seemingly small things or can be applied in the occasional devastations they face such as losses of property or deaths. It is at these times that an agent will remain professional and stable for his clients. Yet, the agent will also be able to extend beyond this to demonstrate compassion to them in their need.
In conclusion, while there are many valuable qualities that an insurance agent should have, competency, integrity, communication, and Golden Rule motivated are four qualities that I believe are vitally critical in any good agent.