Using an insurance broker instead of working directly with an insurance company may make for a smoother, more personalized experience. Many professionals in the insurance industry agree that brokers can better assist individuals with finding the best coverage for the best price.
Brian Friedman, president at Nest Insurance Solutions in Cleveland; Judy Sivy, CEO at ProtectALL Insurance in Dublin near Columbus; and Jim Strassman, president of Strassman Insurance Services in Richmond Heights, weighed in on how independent insurance brokers can best serve their clients.
“They should look for somebody that they know, like and trust,” Friedman advised.
He recommended pursuing a broker who actively listens to what the client’s needs are and someone who gives them the individualized attention they are seeking.
Friedman pointed out that working with a broker, rather than working directly with an insurance company, is beneficial because a broker can access multiple products from multiple carriers, whereas an insurance company only has access to their own products.
“An insurance broker has access to anything that’s available,” Friedman noted.
He said brokers are aware of which other companies might have better rates or offerings than one specific carrier.
“You would never get that information if you called the carrier directly,” Friedman said.
Friedman explained some people have a misconception that it costs more to work with a broker.
“There is no cost to use a broker, so it doesn’t cost the client any more money,” he said. “A lot of times, people ask ‘How much do your services cost’ and my services don’t cost anything.”
He explained there are no costs for his services because he is compensated by the insurance companies based on their products that he sells to his clients.
Sivy said a broker also has the ability to access many different products from several companies.
“When you deal directly with an insurance carrier, they can only provide you a quote if it fits their underwriting guidelines and their requirements,” Sivy explained. “With a broker, or an independent agent, you have several options because we represent several carriers.”
Because of this, insurance brokers can find a client the best coverage at the most competitive price, she pointed out.
Another benefit that Sivy mentioned is brokers are knowledgeable in the industry and what is happening right now. They take time to advise their clients on what the best coverage is for their needs, she added.
“When you deal direct with a carrier like GEICO and you go online to quote it yourself, you’re not a licensed agent, you don’t understand the different coverages and limits and what you might need based on your situation, much like you wouldn’t diagnose yourself if you were sick, you’d go to the doctor because they’re the experts,” she analogized. “It’s the same concept.”
When meeting with potential brokers, Sivy recommended clients bring their current insurance policies with them.
“What you should make sure that your agent, or the potential broker that you’re going to hire, is doing is not just simply regurgitating what’s on your current policy, but doing an analysis,” she advised.
Strassman noted the simplest reason why using a broker is beneficial is a business or individual needs an advocate.
“If you deal directly with a carrier, not only will you probably have a hard time ever getting the same person online, but that person works for the carrier,” he explained. “We work for ourselves and we have to take care of our clients.”
He emphasized the importance of finding a broker who will review the insured’s coverages and make sure they are insured properly, not just based on the lowest price.
“Price is important, but it’s not only about price, it’s proper coverage,” Strassman said. “I’ve said to people for years, ‘You save a couple hundred dollars and you lose tens of thousands because you weren’t insured right.’”
A few hundred dollars more is worth it, he stated.
If a person is searching for a broker, Friedman advised seeking recommendations from trusted friends and loved ones who also use brokers.
“If you have somebody that you really trust, and you trust their opinion, and they have a broker that they trust and have a high opinion of, that’s a good place to start,” Friedman stated.
Publisher’s Note: Jim Strassman is a member of the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company Board of Directors.
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