insurance  SERVICE

Has your insurance agent become a secret agent?

By Bryan Tucker (with inspiration from posted September 20 2019

You met up with the agent or financial adviser. He was well dressed and courteous. Listened attentively and seemed to understand your every need. Rolled out the products effortlessly and walked you through every detail with patience and professionalism.

3 meetings later, the wooing was all done – you signed the documents and hoped for it to be a lasting relationship. But you hardly hear from the adviser again.
The frequency of contact drops. S/he doesn't check in on you as often. Not that you mind, since s/he is busy with other clients. But one day you run into some bad luck and need help to make a potential claim.

The calls go unanswered.

One week turns into 3 months.

It's official. Your agent has become a secret agent and is off the grid.

Till Death or Disappearance do us part…

Alas, this is all too common an occurrence. You may have heard about it from your friends or even experienced it personally.

Before the sale, everything looked rosy and promising. You were sure he was the ONE—a marriage made in heaven.
Yet when you need help with your policies, be it an address change, payment matters, or claims procedure, he is nowhere to be found.

It's an unfortunate aspect of the insurance industry that most of the income an agent receives is from the commission they get paid when introducing new cover to an insurer. Once the policy is in place, they usually receive a small percentage of the annual premium (usually 5 - 10%). While this might explain their lack of motivation post-sale, they are still being paid to provide you with ongoing service.

So why aren't they?

It's normal to feel lost or betrayed. The question is, what actions are available to you? How do you protect your best interests? Do you want to stay in this marriage or initiate a divorce?


Step 1: Stay Calm

A cliche but still applicable. The benefits of insurance come from your policies purchased, not your agent. You must be aware of this.
He may have said things like, "When things go bad, I will be the one to bring you the claims cheque", etc., but an EFT transfer to your bank works just as well. The money doesn't come from the adviser, per se.

It comes from the insurance company. So as long as your policies are intact, your applicable benefits will still apply.
Side note: Some people think that without agents to remind them to pay their policies, they will lapse or be terminated. FYI, each insurer sends multiple letters to remind about payment before and after it is due. You won't miss those unless you've forgotten to tell them about your new address.  

New insurance agent. New Insurance Broker.

Step 2: Decide if you still want to retain his service

Continuing with the marriage analogy here, it is at this point when you decide whether you want to carry on with the marriage or initiate a divorce?

There could be a valid reason that s/he didn't attend to you immediately. S/he could have been on an extended holiday, or having personal issues – or just plain busy.

If s/he eventually does come around and provides you with the level of service you think you deserve, you might decide to forget the matter.

Or you want a clean break and decide that you want a better agent instead. Then go on to the next step.

Step 3: Contact the Insurance company – and request a change of agent

It's as simple as calling/emailing the respective insurer with the following lines:

"I have policies XXX / YYY / ZZZ with your company. I want to change my servicing adviser, thanks."

Let the insurer take care of it, and you can just sit back. While you are at it, you could also carry on with the service requests you needed your agent to help with.

Some people may counter:

"But I bought multiple policies with different companies as my agent was an independent broker?"

If that's the case, give Vesta a call on 0800 283 782, and we can suggest another suitable adviser in your area. If you're happy to deal with an adviser over the phone or by email, Vesta can step in if need be.

Step 4. DIY Is an option too

If you need to get something done urgently, then it is also possible to roll up your sleeves and wade right in yourself.

These days, there is a noticeable shift towards customer-centricity and simplicity, as far as insurers are concerned. Their sites have been visually refreshed, and self-service is also a viable option.

Calling the insurance company's freephone will also provide most of the help you need.

It's not the end of the world, really.

Despite the gripes that people make (popularized with social media) about agents shirking from their responsibilities, it is a straight forward issue to resolve.   

Grumpy about my insurance broker

Personally, we would chalk it up to a learning experience on how to better screen people (agents) next time or look upon it as a chance to improve our insurance knowledge (which is never a bad thing).
The bottom line is, there will always be someone else out there that is willing to service your policy.
So the next time you uncover a secret agent, take pride in the knowledge that you are skilled in the art of counter-espionage as well.

Now pass me my Beretta M9, I have “matters” to settle. Cue the James Bond intro music, please.