Get referrals – Don’t settle for the first agent listed in the phonebook. The easiest way to start your search is to get referrals from the people you trust most, such as friends, family members, and other professional advisors you already work with, such as lawyers or accountants. If you don’t have any luck with LIFE’s online agent locator, your state insurance department can furnish you with a complete list of all the agents in your community.
Find out about their specialties – It is critical to make sure that the agent you select has the expertise to meet your needs. One insurance agent may specialize in life insurance, while another is an expert in long-term care insurance. Whatever their specialty, good agents will take the time to listen and will ask questions about your objectives, help construct a basic game plan, and work with you to find the right insurance solutions for your specific needs.
Inquire about their education and training – If you are not familiar with the letters listed after an agent’s name, ask about them. Professional designations, such as Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Financial Services Specialist (FSS) and Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF) indicate that the agent has completed advanced training, passed rigorous exams and is serious about professional development.
Meet face to face – Interview at least two agents to establish a basis for comparison in terms of qualifications and character, not just fees. Ask for customer references and check that the agent works with financially sound insurance companies.
Ask if they hold any professional memberships – An agent who is a member of professional associations, such as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) or the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), means they adhere to a stringent code of ethics and are committed to enhancing their skills and knowledge.