April 30, 2021

Looking for a life insurance agent? How to choose the right one for your needs

The right life insurance agent can help you pinpoint the best policy for your family….

The right life insurance agent can help you pinpoint the best policy for your family. (iStock)

As you get older — and especially once you have a spouse, children or other dependents — securing a life insurance policy is critical.

But life insurance is different from other types of insurance policies you might be used to shopping for and there are several to choose from, too.

To ensure you’re getting the best-suited plan for your family’s needs, it’s typically best to have a trustworthy agent guide the way.

Are you considering a life insurance policy? Compare life insurance companies and plans via Credible and use these tips to find a reputable agent who can help.

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How to find and verify a life insurance agent

There are many ways to find a potential life insurance agent. To start, you might ask family and friends for recommendations. Your financial planner, estate planning attorney or another trusted professional in your life may have local agents they can refer you to as well.

Once you have a shortlist of options, you’ll want to verify their licensing with your state’s department of insurance. They should have a licensing lookup tool on their webpage. You can also head to the agent’s website to gauge their professional designations. Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) is the most common designation you’ll want to look for.

Finally, checking online reviews and ratings is important, too. You should also Google each agent’s name plus phrases like “complaint” or “lawsuit.” This can help you steer clear of potential bad eggs.

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Factors to keep in mind

Before choosing an agent, make sure you know what type of agent they are. Do they work directly for an insurance company? If so, they’re called a captive agent and can likely only help you with company-specific policies and products.

If they’re an independent agent, they have access to many policies across many insurance companies. These types of agents are usually your best bet, as they can make personalized recommendations, not just ones based on their employer’s offerings.

A quick note here: Regardless of which type of agent you end up using, do your research about potential plans first to ensure you’re offered the best insurance rates. You can explore pricing and life insurance plans on Credible.

You should also consider an agent’s experience (how long they’ve been in business), and any additional designations they might have. An agent who’s also a certified financial planner or personal financial specialist may be able to make even more financial recommendations to safeguard your estate and provide for your heirs.

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Good and bad qualities to be aware of

The ideal life insurance agent is one with deep experience, access to a variety of products and a transparent and honest approach. You can gauge this by doing a quick interview. How many companies do they represent? How do they choose products for their clients? Are they fee-based or commission-based? If they dodge questions or don’t fully answer, this might be a red flag.

Additionally, take time to judge how good of a listener they are. There are many life insurance options out there so to ensure you’re getting the best fit for your family, your agent will need to listen attentively and truly understand your goals and needs.

Overall, you’ll want to avoid agents that aren’t forthcoming with information or ones that put pressure on you to make a decision or choose a certain product. Agents with bad reviews — or no reviews at all — are worrisome too.

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Get the right agent

Finding the right life insurance agent is crucial to getting the policy your family needs and can afford. Start by getting referrals from family, friends and trusted advisers, and do your due diligence before hiring someone. Research their background and designations, conduct a short phone or in-person interview and look at reviews and ratings for extra guidance.

In the meantime, you can start exploring your life insurance options with Credible.

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Have a finance-related question, but don’t know who to ask? Email The Credible Money Expert at [email protected] and your question might be answered by Credible in our Money Expert column.