Insurance agents don’t all suck

December 20, 2010 · 21 comments

I’ve always put insurance agents in the same category as used car salesman. I thought they were all sleazy, creepy, pervy, slimy, (insert negative word here), and just downright awkward. Only selling products that are either overpriced or unnecessary. Turns out, they aren’t ALL as bad as I thought.

One of my wife’s friends (let’s call him Beavis) is an insurance agent. He’s been doing it for about three years now and seems to love it. I never talked much with him about it, though as I didn’t want him to try and sell me a bunch of crap I don’t need. Last month, my car insurance was up for renewal so I decided to shop around a little bit.

I also shot Beavis an email to see if he could get me a better rate (or better coverage for my money) then what I was quoted. I provided him pretty much all the same information I gave to each of the insurance agencies. He got right to it and two days later, I had an email from him with a quote that was $200/year cheaper than anything I could find for myself. Not only was the price/coverage stellar, but it was even with a large national agency, not some small random company!

Intrigued by this whole insurance agent gig, I shot him an email requesting quotes for term life insurance and disability insurance. Sure enough, he got back to me with quotes that were cheaper than, or as good as, what I could find.

Call me crazy, but I’m sold on the idea of going through Beavis for all my insurance needs from now on. I’m really glad/surprised he was, not only able to save me money, but totally changed my view of the insurance game. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m still convinced most agents are as crazy as this guy looks…


What’s your opinion on insurance agents? Have you considered using, or do you use one? Was I wrong to assume insurance agents are like those sleazy used car salespeople?

Have you ever judged an industry or profession before, only to be pleasantly surprised it’s not ALWAYS as bad as you thought it was?

1 Jake Stichler

Considering the only insurance I buy myself is auto insurance, yes, I’ve always had an agent – my local State Farm agent. Well, one of the local ones, there’s a ton of them. But yeah, I actually happen to like him, despite only meeting him once, by chance, while stopping by the office.

2 Moneycone

I don’t know if Beavis is a good or bad insurance agent, but he certainly is a good friend!

3 Larry

If your agent is named Beavis, is the guy in the picture Butthead?

4 Paul @ brokeforcollege

You are fortunate to have found an insurance agent that will work with you rather than against you. I tend to agree that most insurance agents are simply sales people and have no vested interest in your needs or well being. That doesn’t necessarily make them bad people, unless they go along with policies that reward them for taking advantage of those who can’t afford it. The bigger problem in the insurance industry are the numerous agencies who go out of their way to deny claims and make sure that if you get anything at all, you’ve had to jump through every hoop for it and it’s as little as they can get away with.

5 Angela

A long time ago before I was with my current agency (that I have now had for 10 years), it seemed when I went with the lower priced companies, in six months they would raise my rates to what I was paying at the previous agency! I am very happy where I am now and very rarely do they ever raise rates and are still lower than the other companies.

6 ZzzZzz

It’s all great buying insurance, but the true test comes when sadly you may need to use the insurance. At that time these companies put you through the wringer in order to get the money you deserve. Then your rates go up and yadda yadda. Etc.

Cheers.

7 FB @ FabulouslyBroke.com

Unrelated but you should have gotten these PB & J rings for you and Girl Ninja

http://noms.icanhascheezburger.com/2010/12/20/funny-food-photos-epic-pbampj-rings/

8 Kevin @ Thousandaire.com

I had an insurance lady call me, ask me a bunch of questions to give me more discounts, got as low as she could go, and my current insurance was still $20/mo cheaper. She said “Wow, you have a great rate! Congratulations!”

She seemed nice. :)

9 First Gen American

Most I’ve dealt with were the slimy variety. I had a friend’s brother get upset that I didn’t get my insurance through him because we had a personal connection (his brother).

Any profession where you have to profit off your family and friends gets a little sketchy if you ask me. (Avon Lady or any kind of sales party at your house also rings this bell for me).

At least with Beavis, he let you come to him. It seems like he knows where to draw the line between friendship and work.

10 Jessica

Ditto to the real test is when you need the insurance. I am sure we pay slightly more with our current company than we would elsewhere, but we have had to use the insurance in the past and it was a breeze. To me, it is worth it not to get screwed over when you actually need to make a claim. Hopefully your new company is great!

11 Evan

I am an attorney that works in an insurance agency…I must be the scummiest person ever! lol

12 TwinsMama

Nope…the CEO of your agency’s financial institution is the scummiest person ever!

LOL…I know low blow but I couldn’t resist. On a side note, I haven’t found lawyers to be all that bad! :)

13 Executioner

Insurance agents may not all suck, but insurance COMPANIES certainly do. As several others have mentioned, they are more than happy to take your money (collect premiums), but when it comes time for them to pay out (when you submit a claim), they become the most difficult organizations to deal with. That’s when an insurance company shows its true colors in my opinion.

The number one priority of insurance companies is maximizing income (premiums) while minimizing expenses (claims), and they use a number of techniques (red tape, mandatory waiting periods, multi-step processes, confusing legal language, etc) to accomplish this. Unfortunately, they like to advertise themselves as providers of “peace of mind”. In my experience that couldn’t be farther from the truth when it comes time to file a claim.

14 Trina

I loved our insurance agent (car, homeowner, renters, life). We worked with him for about 6 years before he retired. The woman who took over his spot does not meet up to the bar he set. It’s a bummer. I know I should shop around and find someone new, but it is low on my priority list.

15 TwinsMama

I’ve found when you know the person your rates are lower. My Mom has a friend from college that sells insurance and she gets GREAT rates from him. And they are one of the more expensive providers. However, I have a friend that has the same policy from the same company and still pays much much more than my Mom. She is not friends with the agent.

All in all I do however value the work agents do. I just don’t know if I trust them as much as some other types of sales people. I would however love to be an agent…they make GREAT $$$.

16 Crystal @ BFS

Sounds like I need to make friends with an insurance agent, lol. :-)

17 krantcents

Insurance agents are like all people who provide a service, some are good and others are not. Whether it is a lawyer, CPA, MD, or plumber, surround yourself with excellent people. By doing so, it makes it easier to reach your goals.

18 eemusings

So how does he make money – does he charge a fee or get a cut from the insurance company?

19 Amy

He either charges a fee or he gets commission from the insurance company. Pretty much 100% gets a commission. The fee is their discretion.

As someone who works in the insurance industry, I don’t think all or most insurance agents are scummy. I’m not one but I work with them and a lot of them come to bat for their Insureds and try to get the lowest rate possible with sufficient coverage. What I think you should be worried about is an agent who doesn’t ask you any questions and is slow to respond.

As a consumer, I have a State Farm agent for my Renters, PAF and Earthquake and that’s been enough so far. (We don’t have a car.) The agent and her employees are friendly and fast; I have no complaints. They did once email me about life insurance (which I don’t have through them) but that was the one time and they didn’t bug me about it afterwards.

I also have to point out that there are different types of insurance agents. A State Farm agent, for example, is an exclusive agent. He only sells State Farm products. What is usually most helpful is an independent agent who has many more available markets and can give you more options. If I had something difficult to insure like a gun collection, I would go with an independent agent over an exclusive agent. I work mainly with independent agents and some of them are very hands-on and helpful – one drove three hours to take a photo of a vacation home the insurance company required because the Insured couldn’t make it.

20 thewanderingbudget

I’ve had both sides of the spectrum. About 5 years ago my auto insurance was about $1,500/year for $500,000 public liability. Considering I had never had an accident, I just assumed that the high rate was because of my age (I was about 22 at the time).

One day I was looking at CAA’s (Canadian Automobile Association) website and saw that they offered auto insurance and you could get online quotes. I did so and was in utter shock when my quote was for $400 a year for $1,000,000 public liability- twice the coverage! I called them immediately, asked some questions which were all positive and then called my old insurance company. I told them of the quote I had found and the only thing the agent said was, “You have until Monday to cancel your insurance or else your next month’s premium will be taken from your account.” I canceled right away- what kind of customer service is that after they were getting $1,500 a year from me for 5 years??

My current insurance agent with CAA is amazing. I actually look forward to talking about my car insurance because she is so fantastic. She remembers everything about my life, will do everything via email when I’m out of the country and tells me all the tricks I need to keep my insurance up to date when I’m not using the car, which is about 6 months a year. It would be pretty tough to make me leave them!

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