Should I invite an life insurance agent into my home, or use an internet life insurance broker?
Life insurance is a difficult subject, it is a decision we all have to make, and a thing we all should have. Whether it be a simple policy that will pay out when we die so that our families are not overly burdened by our passing, or an investment for our retirement. The industry is full of difficult language, clauses, contracts, exceptions and fees. It is a minefield waiting to catch the unwary, and one that some people dread to walk upon.
That’s why we have insurance broker, and life insurance agencies. They are there to make the minefield seems a little less perilous, safer to walk through. They are there to make sure that you connect with the policy that suits you best, not one that suits the pockets of the insurance company better. They act as intermediaries between you and the complex facts, forms and figures required by insurance companies before they will agree to cover you.
In the old days it was common to get yourself an insurance agent, and they would come around to your house, partake in a coffee and some biscuits while they laid out their plans and proposals on your dining table. The whole night would be spent going through the facts, and figures, dealing with difficulties and coming up with a plan that you could both afford, and would cover you sufficiently in the event of your death.
More than likely, your insurance agent was a local person. Someone you would see in the local supermarket, who happened to be in the business and only covered the immediate area of their residence, more of a friend or acquaintance than someone trying to sell you something.
Times moved on, and we moved into the internet age.
Today you can have a similar discussion with a life insurance broker on the internet. They will discuss the same things, offer the same facts and figures (probably more now as they have so much more to offer at their fingertips than your neighbourhood agent had in their briefcase) and propose similar services. The only difference is they are not sitting in your home.
Or is that the only difference?
Consider the old scenario again. You would phone up your agent, arrange a time for them to come round and then spend the evening going over things. It wasn’t exactly dynamic was it? You had to dedicate an evening to the process, the only facts you were presented with were the ones they brought with them, and you sort of felt under a little pressure to sign something before the evening was out in case you were guilty of wasting their time. (If you didn’t sign the contract you would have to avoid them if you saw them in the street in the ensuing weeks).
Today’s world doesn’t work like that anymore. In today’s world we expect someone who is providing us with a service to have the world of technology at their fingertips, to be able to offer us any answer to any question. We expect them to be there when we decide, not at a mutually acceptable time; be it 3:30 in the afternoon, or at 8pm when we get home from work. We have the ability to double check any fact or figure they may quote us, instantly using the same internet technologies that they are using. And, a big and, we have the choice to say yes, or to say no, to move on and find someone else to help us – no hard feelings.
In short, in today’s world, we want answers to be fast, efficient and accurate. Forget the social chit-chat, we are discussing business, and when we are finished we want to continue with our normal lives satisfied with a job well done – mission accomplished.
An online broker offers all of that. They are sitting in their office when you speak to them (it can be a chat session, Skype phone call, or just exchanges of emails) so they have all of the facts and figures of their whole company at their fingertips (no more – “let me check with head office” – they are in the office). They are at work, and have lives of their own, so it is not in their interest to try and spend hours talking to you. They will professionally convey the facts and figures, discuss your concerns and worries, make suggestions about policies and terms and let you make the decision. There is no pressure to sign the deal before they leave, they can pick up the conversation tomorrow or the next day.
If you need time to look at the policy, simple, they email it to you and you take your time to read it, no one looking over your shoulder. You can still question any part of it as you would to an agent sitting next to you, or you can end the conversation there and say you will contact them again when you have looked through the documents.
Of course an Internet broker does lack some of the personal touch that a visiting agent used to have. But ask yourself a question; when was the last time you asked the man from the electricity company to come round for dinner when you were deciding which energy plan to use in your house? You didn’t did you? It was a service you needed, you handled it like any other service you need in today’s world, online or via the phone.