In this “Internet age”, the days of the personal, knock-on-your-door or office-on-Main-Street insurance agent are fading away. Much more commonly now, a “prospect” goes online, searches for the information or quotes that they want and contacts an agent that can sell it to them. So, is this a good thing or bad thing for the consumer? Should you have a personal, local agent?
First of all, the advantages of having a local agent are simply that he or she is local. You can see them in-person and ask any questions or sign up for a plan. For some people, this gives an added sense of security – I guess it’s the “if something goes wrong, I know where to find you” feeling. The other advantage of having a local advantage is that they may be more familiar with the local marketplace of insurance products that someone who is not local. However, this does not apply on all products. For example, Medigap plans are nationally standardized, so coverage is the same nationwide.
Sounds good right? So what are the disadvantages of having a local agent? It can more precisely be said, what are the advantages of having a national, more specialized agent. Whereas most local agents wear a lot of hats, selling their clients everything from boat insurance to term life insurance, most national agencies specialize in their niche. This allows for more refined product knowledge and specialty advising.
The advantage of this to the consumer is that they get access to an agent’s specialized product knowledge on the niche they are seeking. Also from a convenience standpoint, this can be handled exclusively over the phone, through the mail, or online. In our business model, we provide the information exclusively by email (online) and potential clients can compare plans and even enroll all online without ever having to leave their home (or even get dressed!). This is an added level of convenience that we find increasing numbers of people want. We find that not many people want an insurance agent sitting at their kitchen table, making small talk for two hours and trying to sell them too much insurance, anymore.
So, in short, you should do what you feel most comfortable with. Some people do not feel comfortable doing business with someone that they find online. If that is you, I would urge you to find a local agent that represents all the plans (a broker) so you can compare all options in a centralized place. If you wish to compare online (maybe you do since you are reading this!) and are in the market for Medicare Supplement insurance, let us know how we can help. You can call us at 877.506.3378.