Insurance Brokers: Questions to Ask While Searching

What is an Insurance Broker?
An insurance broker works for you instead of the insurance company. An agent works for a single insurance company and offers only their policies, but a broker works with all companies to get the best rate for you. The broker assists you with finding a policy that works best for your needs then helps you file claims and settles any problems, if needed.

How do I find one?
Word of mouth usually works best when finding an insurance broker. Ask your friends, relatives, co-workers who they use, and if they're satisfied with the results. You can also look at the National Insurance Brokers of Australia website (www.NIBA.com.au) for help finding a broker in your area.

What do I ask?
Just as you would when hiring anyone to take care of your needs, you'll want to ask your prospective insurance broker some detailed questions to make sure he/she is perfect for you.

  • Qualifications. First, you'll want to know about your broker's qualifications. Just because someone is in the insurance field doesn't mean they're qualified to broker your deals. An insurance broker must be licensed by the Australian Securities and Investment Commission. You'll want to look for professional affiliations like being a member of the NIBA.
  • Services. Ask what this broker handles for insurance. If you need small business insurance as well as life insurance, and this broker deals only with life insurance, you might want to look elsewhere.
  • Client List Size. Size matters. Being a small fish in a pond of large clients may net you little attention. On the other hand, if your large business is dealing with a broker that handles mainly personal insurance, he/she may not understand the scope of your business' needs. It's important for you to feel comfortable with your broker knowing your needs will be met despite their client load.
  • Experience. Make sure the broker's experience level matches your needs. Though there's nothing wrong with a broker that's just starting out if you have simple insurance needs, but a more detailed or complicated case will require experience. You'll also want to make sure your potential broker has experience in your particular area of need. A broker handling mainly business-based insurances may not be the best choice to handle your life insurance policies.
  • Office staff. Ask about the office staff. Are they qualified to handle your questions? Ask about turn-over, as unhappy employees may point to a difficult relationship that you'd want to avoid in your own dealings. Ask about availability of the broker and the office staff. Can you call after hours? Be wary of a broker that isn't available to you after hours, because you may need to consult them outside of business hours at some point about a policy or about making a claim.
  • References. Ask if the broker has a list of clients you can call for a reference. Make sure you call them once you get home. Ask about their experiences with the broker and if they're 100% satisfied with the services thus far. If clients are happy they will have no problem singing their broker's praises. 

Making a Decision
Evaluate the answers you've been given for an acceptable level of experience, qualifications, and interest in your needs. If you feel you're going to get along with this broker and the qualifications match, you can feel comfortable in your choice. If you're the least bit hesitant, check out a few other brokers until you find the perfect one for your insurance needs.

Additional Reading:

10 Secrets to Saving Money When You Get Insurance

The Secrets To Getting The Best Life Insurance

3 Tricks To Saving Money On Public Liability Insurance

3 Secrets To Getting The Right Travel Insurance

Car Insurance Traps 101

Your Current Homeowner's Policy - Is It Enough?



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