Should you buy direct or use an agent?

If you are reading this then you are most likely in the process of deciding not only if you need insurance, but whether you should enroll direct with the insurance plan online or meet with an insurance agent or broker.  A recent survey asked consumers which they were inclined to use.  When asked if they preferred to buy insurance online or from an agent, the first response was “online.”

The top three reasons given were:

  • Save money by cutting out the middleman
  • Ease of transaction
  • Speed of transaction

The survey then asked participants to use both methods to purchase insurance.

The results:

Save money by cutting out the middleman:
The study found that consumers rarely saved enough money to warrant bypassing an agent or broker’s help.  Rates are the same for everyone whether you enroll direct or get help from an agent.
Ease of transaction:
While the online experience was easier at first than direct contact with an agent, most agents were far more proactive in asking important questions that would allow them to give better recommendations, particularly when participants had multiple questions that required follow-up.
Speed of transaction:
The survey was evenly split regarding speed. Direct-to-consumer websites delivered fast results for the length of time required to sit down with an agent, while agents took more time with fact finding and matching a consumers needs to specific products.  However, the speed differences reversed when it came to making changes in coverage, documentation requests, and additional questions – agents were far more efficient and easier to reach for follow up.

Consumers who were part of the study also found that comparing insurance plans was not so simple.

Personally I was not too surprised when I read this study because I meet with people all the time who say they wish they had known about me years ago.  “You could have saved me so much time and money,” they’ll say.    
Comparing health insurances (especially Medicare Advantage plans & Medicare Prescription Drug plans) is very complicated and you really need someone who has experience and knows a lot about how these plans work.   As a broker I talk to my clients regularly about their experiences with the different insurance companies.  If one of them is not doing something right I hear about it.   The other benefit to working with an agent or broker – like myself – who is contracted with multiple insurance carriers is that they can help you with comparing plans so you can find the best plan for your needs.  To do this on your own you would have to meet with a representative from each insurance company and then they will only tell you the positive aspects of their plan.  You will have to discover any shortcomings as you experience them. With anything as significant as purchasing health insurance it’s always best to have someone on your side.
Just remember that there’s no one right insurance plan, or one perfect way to shop for something as important as insurance. The bottom line is that you need to identify your priorities, do your research, and find the best plan for your needs. You might be able to do this on your own, or you might need the help of a trained professional to make these decisions.

Would you like my help?

If you would like to talk to me or schedule a meeting at your home or a nearby meeting place, you can reach me at 207-370-0143 or use my simple form on the CONTACT ME page of this site to send an email message.  The best part about working with me is that it will not cost you anything to meet with me to discuss your options or to review the plans that are available.  I am paid by the insurance companies in the form of a commission if you enroll in a plan.  You will not pay any more than anyone else and you are under no obligation whatsoever to enroll in any plans if you meet with me.  

“My goal is to help you and I have found great joy in being able to offer my services to people who need my help.”

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