How to find an agent
The trick is to find an agent who can help you navigate all this. You don’t want to spend a lot of time thinking about it, worrying about not having it, or getting wrapped up in the minutiae of it. There are people out there who spend their whole lives worrying about this stuff for you. They’re called Agents. (not secret agents, like 007, just Agents). The trick is to find one.
When my husband and I needed to figure out our financial future planning, we found an agent from the least likely source you can imagine… his ex-wife. She was working for an insurance company, and got to know one of the Agents really well. He had hung out with her kids, and knew our situation pretty well. When Joe met with us, we told him what needed to be done for the kids as part of the agreement with the ex-wife, and what should be done to take care of his new wife, me.
Joe made sure to focus on the task at hand, which was to get a Life Insurance policy for my husband since his work policy wasn’t going to cut it. After that was taken care of, Joe mentioned that I was in a perfect place to get my own policy, since I was young and healthy. Being the GoodWife that I am, I got a policy to take care of my dear husband in the event of my demise. After we had the life insurance stuff taken care of, he’s helped us to figure out what else made sense… IRAs, Disability, etc. Since then, Joe has been an important and integral part of our future and financial planning. When we start thinking about 401(k) contributions, we call Joe. When our paychecks change, we call Joe… and Joe always answers our calls and emails – even when there is no commission to be had. He is our Agent, and I don’t know what I’d do without him.
So how can YOU find an Agent? Don’t have an ex-wife that is friends with an Agent? Don’t fret! Ask other friends and family if they know anyone. If you don’t have any luck there, search for some – but do your research. A lot can be learned about an individual from a simple google search. How do you decide if a particular agent is ready to be Your Agent? The first thing to look for is how they communicate with you. Do they pick up the phone when you call, or at least get back to you quickly? Great! Do they respond to your emails same day or faster? Awesome. If they don’t… keep looking. You want to trust your Agent to be there for you at the most critical times and decisions of your married life. You don’t want to be on the bottom of a five page ‘call back’ list.
Once you set up your initial meeting, make sure they respect what your goals are, and not their personal bottom line. Are they pushing what you’re not asking for? Sometimes this is okay, but if you give the firm ‘I’m just looking to get THIS’ and they don’t back off, find a new agent. Good Agents know that they are making a partnership for life, and should respect what you are ready for – and be there to educate you when you’re ready for more. Make sure you at least have a basic understanding of what you are looking for. Take a look at the following resources for quick primers on different types of insurance your (prospective) agent may want to talk about.
Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with stuff that is so complicated, there are dozens of certifications for those who make a living out of it. You’re not expected to know everything – but you should be able to know someone who is willing to know it for you. Happy Agent hunting, and live long and prosper.