Who should you buy your insurance from? An experienced local agent? A national website? Your Uncle Bob who sells insurance part time? A large independent insurance agency? There really isn’t a right answer. But the most important factor is to find a source you can trust that will provide you the best rates.
A local experienced broker is often your best option. The “experience” factor is invaluable since a licensed broker/agent can effectively save you hours of time by quickly finding the best policies from hundreds of choices. Dealing with someone local allows you to meet in person and discuss your specific insurance needs.
However, you do not have to buy insurance in a fact to face situation. Policies are bought every day online, by fax and by email. However, for certain types of coverage, such as disability and long-term health care plans, discussing options in person is often the best method.
Personal medical insurance is often bought online. Typically this is a safe method of buying medical plans. However, you should also check to make sure the website is based in the US and has clear “contact” information. When requesting a quote online, there should be at least 3-5 (or more) companies that are providing rates.
The number of available plans should be at least 40, and perhaps as much as 250. Of course, a licensed broker can help you identify the policies that are the best match for your personal needs. They can then scale down that number to about five affordable medical insurance plans.
Selected insurers have “retail” stores where you can buy a policy. Reviews tend to be mixed for this type of purchase. Certainly, there are some very reputable experienced agents that will be able to help you. But they will be employees of the insurer and will only be able to offer plans from one company. Many times, that plan will not be a competitive option, and other policies should be considered.
Not many companies offer retail locations that offer their exclusive business. Usually, consumers prefer to work with experienced independent agents that feature websites and offer a wide variety of policy alternatives. Although you lose the “face to face” experience, you may save more money and be able to compare more competitive products that way.
Term life insurance products are frequently purchased online. In fact, the majority of term products are purchased on websites that specialize in providing low cost term plans from the big reputable companies such as Prudential, Genworth, Metlife and many other carriers. It’s important to make sure you are buying a policy from a company that has an “A” rating from the top rating agencies such as A.M. Best Company.
Finally, it is generally not necessary to pay a fee when you buy insurance. You should never pay a fee directly to a broker or agent for their services. Occasionally, insurance companies will charge a small fee. For example, short term health insurance applications often include a small application fee. But applying for auto, home or life coverage typically does not involve paying any fees.