If you think like I used to, you may believe that a one size fits all insurance company is all you need. While, I'm not always a bargain hunter I never saw the need to pay a higher premium for what I considered to be a universal product.

Of course, all that changed after my home was broken into. Although I was insured through a large national company, it took me over half an hour to get through the automated system to a live person & over 6 months to get my claim resolved. Luckily, it was around that time that a friend referred me to my current agent.

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While I am still with a national insurance company, I now have an agent that I can count on to answer my call & understand my situation. So, is there a golden rule to help you find an insurance agent you can trust? Unfortunately, no, there's no one determinant when it comes to finding an insurance agent you can trust.

However, by keeping in mind the following guidelines, you significantly minimize your risk & increase your chances of finding an insurance agent that will come to your rescue when it counts:

Be specific - In order to find the best insurance agent, you need to know what you're looking for. Find an agent that specializes in the type of insurance you require. While not necessary, having one agent that covers all of your insurance needs (home, car, life, medical, etc.), can not only simplify the process, it can also result in discounted rates.

Utilize Free Online Quotes - Many companies offer free online insurance quotes. Although it's not advised to allow these automated systems to replace in person contact, it's a good idea to have a ballpark figure of what the type of policy you want is going to cost. Whether it be a quote you receive online or a quote given to you in person, always retain a copy for your records.

Verify Their Status - Unfortunately, while it's the exception rather than the rule, not all agents are what they seem. Visit your state's Department of Insurance to check that your agent has a valid license. The Department of Insurance is also a great place to locate additional information about various types of Insurance. To really do your homework on the financial strength & creditworthiness of insurance company the policy is written through check their rating on A.M. Best, a global credit rating agency focused on serving the insurance industry.

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Meet Them - We're all busy people, but this is one relationship you want to make time for. Prior to selecting an agent, meet with your list of prospects face to face.

Not only should you feel comfortable with your agent - you should be impressed with the professionalism and demeanor of their support staff. Remember this is the person you need to trust to have your best interests in mind when your life hits you with an unexpected crisis. An insurance agent you can trust will ask questions about your previous insurance experiences, your home, family situation, your budget and will look to you to hear what types of insurance you are looking for. Although a good agent may suggest an additional insurance policy, based on what you share about your life & goals, they will never push one on you.

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