WORKING WITH AN AGENT: ASK QUESTIONS AND DO YOUR HOMEWORK

A licensed health insurance agent is a great resource to help you sort out all the details of a health insurance plan - and help you with the application process. It's important to keep in mind that it's an agent's job to try and sell you a policy - for instance, they receive a commission when you purchase a policy and each time your policy renews. That doesn't necessarily mean that they don't have your best interest in mind, but it does mean that you should be sure to shop around and speak with multiple agents before making a decision. Consider the following:

  1. Check the credentials. Make sure any agent you work with is certified by your state as a licensed insurance agent.
  2. Follow the money. Learn which company backs the insurance you're being offered. It should be a large reputable insurance company or bank - and you probably should have heard of them before.
  3. Experience matters. You want to work with an agent who knows his or her stuff. While it's certainly possible for someone new to the insurance business to be a great agent, it's a complex industry with complicated products. Ask for references from any agents you are considering, and find out how long they've been in the business.
  4. Don't be pressured. Never allow an agent to push you into a purchase decision you aren't comfortable with. If you are working with an agent who gives you deadlines or tries to rush your decision, politely break off contact and look for a different person to help. Reputable agents will discuss all the available options with you and give you plenty of time to decide.

If you do your homework, you can certainly be confident in buying insurance without going through an agent. But, if you want to buy more than one policy or have complicated coverage needs, it's probably worth at least speaking with an agent or two before making any final decisions.

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