You’ve been doing online research on the various life insurance products available. You now think you’re ready to sit with an Insurance Agent or Financial Representative to assess your needs. Where do you start? With so many agencies, agents, offices, and firms to choose from! How do you know who the right one is? Which company do you go with? How do you trust an agent to sell you the correct product?
One of the first things you need to do, regardless of which agency or representative you eventually choose. You need to ask to see that they are licensed appropriately for the life insurance products and financial products you are wanting.
Life Insurance Agent’s start out by obtaining their Life, Health and Annuity and sometime Property and Casualty license for the state they practice in. The Life and Annuity license allows them to sell term and whole life insurance and fixed annuities.
The agent also must obtain their Series 6 & 63 (securities) license to sell mutual funds, variable life insurance, and variable annuities, or any other investment vehicle that houses mutual funds.
It would be safe to say, that most Insurance Agents who are associated with large Insurance Firms or have their own free-standing Insurance Agency have these two licenses to sell the broad range of products these offices offer to satisfy all your needs.
But you should still do your due diligence and ask if their licenses are up-to-date and that they have not let them expire; as these licenses require a certain amount of additional education and certification every two years to keep them current.
It is also good to know if they have earned any other designations. A person who takes the time to learn and grow within their industry is an individual who has chosen this as their life’s career. And you can feel confident that they will be specialists within the Insurance and Financial Field, and will be around for years to come.
Here are the most common designations:
CFP — Certified Financial Planner
CLU — Chartered Life Underwriter
ChFC — Chartered Financial Consultant
As far as which company you choose to go with, is entirely up to you. Some people want the comfort of knowing all their products are with the same company, and that that company has the strength and longevity to stand behind what they sell. The financial advisors for the big insurance corporations typically sell only the companies proprietary products. Their pay structures and agreements mandate them to do so. The benefit to this is that you know you are getting a solid product backed by a solid company. The down–side is that they are usually not able to offer a wide variety of products for the sake of price comparing.
Others like the idea of a smaller Insurance office because you can develop a much more personal relationship with your Agent, and they can cater more to your needs. Large insurance corporations still back the products and services that they offer, so need to worry about the financial stability of the products you purchase, but an independent financial firm, since they are not associated with any one proprietary company, can offer a larger variety of services for the sake of product and price comparison.
When it comes to choosing the right life insurance company, or agency; know the facts. And by knowing a little bit about the professional services that each agent can offer, and knowing what type of business you feel most comfortable with, you will be able to move forward and feel secure with the insurance and financial protection you ultimately choose for you and your family.