What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘agent’?
Does it conjure up memories of an honest professional or the image of a guy with a silver tongue trying to con his way into your wallet?
The proper function of an insurance agent is to secure a seamless experience between you and the most compatible insurance solutions. Without them, you are likely to make amateur mistakes that can be quite costly. While there are plenty of good agents in the industry, there are just as many errant ones, so it is important to be informed.
There are three main things to watch out for when dealing with any insurance agent. Put your agent to the test. If they pass, you can relax because you’re in good hands. If they don’t pass, we strongly encourage that you head to the nearest lifeboats (women and children first).
1. The Policy Document
After conducting a thorough risk survey and needs analysis, an insurance agent should help you select insurance solutions that fit you best. The policy document that is signed by the underwriter should be placed in your hands. Errant agents may not give you this document. They do this so they can collect 12 bob from you when the insurance company has only charged 10, and pocket the balance. The policy document reflects that number so they won’t give it to you. In the event of a claim, without that document, you will be helplessly dragged around the bush while the blame is falsely placed on the insurance company.
Protip: Always insist on receiving your policy document within the stipulated period.
2. The Facts
We cannot stress how critical it is to understand all the facts before selecting a policy. An insurance agent should guide you through the process, explaining everything in a way that you will understand and highlighting all the important bits. Errant agents will withhold and/or misrepresent information. This is because they want to hurry you into signing a contract so they can make their cut. Take for example, a milling factory that grinds maize into unga. If the agent does not clarify the stipulations of the dust warranty, the milling company will not know that it is required to vacuum the factory regularly. A claim made following a fire in the factory is sure to be rejected Misrepresenting information is just as bad as withholding it. Beware of a general insurance agent who declares, for example, that your premiums will be returned in full at the end of the year if no claims are made. Insurance does not work that way.
Protip: Read the contract thoroughly and ask questions until you understand everything.
3. Unremitted Premiums
The premiums you pay should be remitted to the insurance company in accordance with your policy. Errant agents might not remit your premiums to the insurance company. They might redirect them towards their own investments, for example, or use them as a line of credit for gambling chips in a get-rich-quick scheme. At the end of the day, the insurance company does not receive your premiums, your policy cannot be upheld and you will not be compensated.
Protip: Pay your premiums directly to the underwriter and get the underwriter’s receipt. Ask for regular statements, too.
Last piece of advice: no work is done until the paperwork is done. Receipts, cover notes, policy endorsements et cetera. Even a debit note that captures a transaction. Different policies require different documents, so it’s important to retain all relevant documentation.
We believe that transparency is the cornerstone of a good insurance agency, in addition to quality, efficiency and reliability. These are just a few of the stumbling blocks you may encounter with an unethical insurance agent– did we miss anything? Perhaps you have a story you’d like to share with us. Talk to us in the comments below! You can reach us on Twitter, Facebook or call us on 020 2011503.
Settle for nothing less than world-class insurance!
Our writer, Barbara Jebet, is a content strategist and a brand storyteller. Check out her blog: the slightly curious world of story pot.