QuestionI’ve seen a lot of commercials from direct insurance carriers advertising the cheapest rates if I go online or call a 1-800 number. My parents always worked with a real-life insurance agent, but I’m not sure I need one. What are some advantages to working with an agent?
We posed this question to Paul Harrington, a Farmers Insurance® agent based in Moore, Oklahoma. Here’s what he had to say about cheap car insurance.
Answer Since you’re asking an insurance agent, you can probably guess how I’ll answer. The way I look at it, with insurance companies that sell online or through 1-800 numbers, you plug in what you think you need or want, and the direct insurance company spits out a price. The problem is that one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t always work when it comes to insurance, whether it’s for your car, home, life, pet, etc. Every person’s situation is different, and choosing the cheapest option could potentially mean you do not have all the coverage you want.
When you work with a local agent, they are there to ask important questions pertaining to you and your lifestyle, to help you find the policy you want.
What’s a potential downside of buying insurance without an agent?
One of the biggest mistakes people can make when shopping online for car insurance is not having enough liability coverage, which is coverage if you’re found negligent in an accident. It might be tempting to go for the minimum coverage, but it may not be enough if you are responsible for another person’s injuries. In my state of Oklahoma, for example, minimum coverage is $25,000 to cover someone’s medical bills. Let’s say you injure one person who has medical bills in the $50,000 range. The insurance company is only responsible for $25,000 and the insured may be on the hook for the other $25,000. That’s a scenario no insurance customer wants.
When you shop coverage online, you don’t have someone to walk you through those types of important decisions.
Does an agent help when I have a claim?
Yes, they can. Another reason it helps to work with an agent is the added support provided during the claims process. My firm encourages our customers to call us first, and we will go online and file the claim for them. We follow up on the claims, too, serving as a liaison between Farmers® and the customer.
Can an agent help so I keep my coverage up-to-date and get the insurance I want?
You should consider reviewing your insurance coverage at least annually. A Farmers agent can provide a Farmers Friendly Review® so customers can go over their coverages and make sure they have the coverages they want and still find them to be a good fit.
A local agent is a licensed professional who is there to help you. That’s key when you’re trying to protect your biggest assets. You don’t always get that online or through a 1-800 number, which can feel like you’re just a transaction. Working with a local agent, you feel a more personal connection.
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