Unfortunately, bad agents do exist in the life insurance industry.
When speaking with a life insurance agent, you should prequalify them before you move forward with a life insurance application since ultimately, your life insurance agent is the one responsible for obtaining the rate they are quoting you.
Our job as a life insurance agent is to paint your risk in the most favorable light to an underwriter. So you want to make sure you're working with an agent who can handle your case adequately.
Here are 3 simple questions to help you in choosing a life insurance agent
1. Are you independent?
An "independent" life insurance agent will have access to any carrier on the market. This is very important. You want to make sure they are shopping the ENTIRE market for you, not just a handful of carriers.
Be careful. While some companies claim to be independent, they may only offer 5-10 companies. For example, lets look at Matrix Direct. They claim to be independent, however they are owned by American General and their agents will most likely quote you with them even though they advertise other carriers.
A good way to tell if an agent is independent or not is to look on their website. If you see more than 20 life insurance companies listed, they are most likely an independent life insurance agency.
2. How long have you been in the business?
Truth is, over 90% of life insurance agents who start in this industry are gone after the 2nd year.
You want the agent on your policy to be there for you when you need to make changes or have any questions. We recommend working with an agent who has been in the life insurance business for at least 2 years. They'll have a good chance of being there for you when you need them.
Also, experience is what will bring you the best rates.
For example. We had a recent case where a client of ours experimented with drugs while in college, he's 52 years old right now with no health issues. He applied at Select Quote with ING and Banner Life with us. BOTH companies offered him a preferred rating which were the same premium. We went the extra mile by contacting Banner Life insurance's head underwriter and explaining the situation. With our petition, he received a "preferred plus" rating and the case was placed with us.
With our experience, we knew that underwriting guidelines said "preferred", but common sense said "preferred plus". An experienced agent will go to bat for you.
3. Will I be able to contact you directly during underwriting and AFTER the policy is in force?
This may seem like a silly question, but some of these life insurance agencies are run like sweatshops with horrible customer service. You want to make sure you have your agent's direct contact information and confirm with them they will be the one's that will take your call when you have questions.
Many of the big call centers have their agents just sell you a policy and you'll never hear from them again after that. So if you ever have a question or need to make a change, you'll be speaking with a customer service representative who has no idea who you are. This isn't the way business should be done and you shouldn't have to settle with this. Avoid this scenario by simply asking if they're the contact during underwriting and after the policy is in force.
Lastly, If you find a life insurance agent who can't answer these questions to your liking, then move on. There are plenty of independent life insurance agents out there who would love the opportunity to have you as a client, us included. Not only will you have a better experience, but you'll obtain better rates by finding the right life insurance agent.
Remember, it's your life insurance agent who is responsible for securing the best rate. After prequalifying your potential agent with these questions, then simply go with your gut.