We've heard plenty about the importance of insurance but who can you trust to recommend the best policies? Not everyone has your best interests at heart and something as important as insurance can't be left to chance.
You can choose to go with a broker or an agent. What matters is that they work on your behalf to get you the best insurance coverage. With more people becoming aware of the importance of being protected against lawsuits, natural calamities and theft, the number of insurance companies has mushroomed in recent years. This means the quest to sift the good from the bad has become even more important.
Expertise is an absolute must as is certification and license. Insurance has legal ramifications so if your agent or broker doesn't help you understand what each type of insurance can do for you or if he doesn't tell you how a particular choice can spell doom, you'll end up paying a hefty price. In fact, such is the important of insurance coverage that even fledgling businesses think to get covered.
For some, finding a good broker or agent means finding policies with the lowest cost and going with the professional who gave them that quote. They don't bother to find out if the coverage actually benefits them as long as money can be saved. This is a wrong and potentially disastrous way to go about agent-hunting because saving money now does not guarantee saving money later. What should be done instead is to get hold of an agent with lots of expertise and then get him to find coverage.
Depending on what you need insurance for, seek referrals from sources who deal in that field. For example, if it's health insurance you need, speak to a healthcare provider. They have connections with related insurance companies and will be able to point you in the right direction.
As for qualifications, all insurance brokers must be licensed by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission and accredited by NIBA (National Insurance Brokers Association). You may choose to deal directly with the insurance company too but that would mean doing the legwork yourself. As you probably don't have the time or the mind to take on the job yourself, it's far easier to rely on a professional. Just stay up-to-date on the process and understand the finer details of different types of coverage.
When interviewing brokers or agents, certain questions can reveal how competent they are. Queries about their track record in the past five years, how satisfied their customers are, their reputation (not only that of the providers they work for), and the financial foundation of the company represented are important. Be aware that there'll be sales pitches tossed at you so know when someone's making tall claims by running a check on the internet and speaking with people who've used their services before.
There are numerous insurance providers and even more brokers that it's not difficult to feel swamped. Not having much idea about insurance as a whole only makes it trickier. The guidelines outlined above will, hopefully, serve to remove some of the burden you feel when 'shopping' for an insurance agent and may guarantee you find someone you can completely trust.