An insurance broker can help you find and purchase a health or life insurance policy to suit your needs. A broker must have a special license, but can provide you with a wide range of coverage options and premium amounts from several companies.
Preparing to Purchase Insurance
The first step to finding a broker is to consider whether you plan on obtaining additional insurance or financial planning advice in the future. If so, you might consider working with a broker who is also a financial planner or advisor. This will save you time by eliminating the need to restate your financial assets and goals when you decide to purchase those policies or engage in financial planning.
Finding an Insurance Broker
Any insurance broker you rely on to assist you with choosing a product should be licensed. The National Association of Health Underwriters' website allows user to search for licensed health insurance brokers located nearby.
The Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America website also allows individuals seeking insurance to search for brokers in their area. These brokers may offer multiple types of insurance, such as both health and life.
You may be able to find an insurance broker through recommendations. Your employer's human resource office and even friends or family may be able to share the names of brokers with whom they have successfully worked in the past.
Whether you find a broker through one of these associations or a recommendation, it's essential to do your homework prior to agreeing to work with one. Many states' insurance departments allow users to search for insurance brokers by license number, for example:
- Utah Insurance Department: This website allows for searching by broker name, location, or license number.
- Pennsylvania Insurance Department: This website allows users to search for an insurance company, broker or agent. Searches can be completed by name, city, state, or license number.
- Arizona Department of Insurance: Users of this website can search for a broker or insurance company. The search provides license information.
There is no list of the top insurance brokers by customer service or other reviewing process. However, companies that write personal lines of insurance in the United States include:
- Wells Fargo Insurance Services: This company's personal client services division helps individual's determine what type of insurance and coverage they need, acquire coverage, and manage their policies. Offered policies cover assets and personal belongings.
- BB&T Insurance Holdings, Inc.: Policies offered by this insurer include renters, pet, flood, term and permanent life, unemployment, and long-term care insurance. The company's website allows users to find a local agent or obtain a quote.
- HUB International, Ltd.: This company offers several personal insurance policies, including home, condominium, auto, travel, and personal excess liability. It also offers business insurance.
How to Work With a Life Insurance Broker
You've found a broker and verified his or her license. Now, it's time to consider what you want in your policy and to start asking questions.
When purchasing life insurance, consider:
- The total settlement amount you seek
- The maximum premium amount you want to pay
- How often you want to pay the premium
- How easily you want to be able to change your beneficiary
After sharing this information with the broker you've chosen, it's time to ensure that any policy quote you receive meets your expectations. The Illinois Department of Insurance provides an extensive list of questions for individuals purchasing life insurance, including:
- What companies do you work with? Which do you avoid? Why do you choose to avoid those companies?
- How reliable are the companies you work with?
- What happens if the company fails?
- What happens if I find a better policy than the one I purchase through you? Can I obtain a refund of any premium I've paid?
- What criteria determine the premium?
- How easy is it to change my beneficiary?
Also be sure to ask any questions about specific requirements you had. Get any changes to policies in writing prior to signing or paying for the policy.
How to Work With a Broker for Health Insurance
When purchasing health insurance, the main considerations are the types and extent of coverage you seek: physical health, mental health, or prescription. You should also consider:
- How much per month you want to pay
- The amount of any co-payments
- Whether you need referrals to see specialists
- The maximum benefits allowed
For individuals purchasing health insurance, the PA department of Insurance has provided a list of considerations, including:
- The types of coverage included
- Whether you are allowed to see a specialist without a referral
- The amount of any co-payments and deductibles
- Whether prescription coverage is included in the policy
Again, get any changes to a policy you would like to purchase in writing prior to signing or paying for the policy.
Choosing Your Broker and Policy
Just like policies, every health and life insurance broker is different. In addition to checking on a broker's license, make sure that you are comfortable detailing your life events and plans with the broker you choose.