ARLINGTON, Va., Dec. 27 With 2008 just around the corner,now is the perfect time to make sure your insurance program is up to date. Animportant first step is to seek the advice of a trusted advisor who can helpyou make smart decisions. Today, the nonprofit Life and Health InsuranceFoundation for Education (LIFE) offers five tips to help you find the rightinsurance professional for you and your family.
According to LIMRA International, 60 percent of Americans want to purchaselife insurance through someone they can meet in person, yet three-fourths ofhouseholds currently do not have a life insurance agent, personal financialadvisor or planner.
"Whether you're considering life insurance for the first time, orreassessing your coverage needs, finding the right agent is an important firststep," says Marvin H. Feldman, CLU, ChFC, RFC, incoming president and CEO ofthe LIFE Foundation. "Your family's financial well being is of primeimportance when you consider an insurance purchase. Don't leave such animportant decision to chance. Working with a professional insurance agent whoknows the right questions to ask will help you decide how much and what kindof coverage is right for your specific needs and budget."
LIFE offers the following five tips to help Americans find and work with atrusted insurance agent:
Get referrals -- Don't settle for the first agent listed in the phonebook.The easiest way to start your search is to get referrals from the people youtrust most, such as friends, family members, and other professional advisorsyou already work with, such as lawyers or accountants. To help you getstarted, check out LIFE's online agent locator tool(www.lifehappens.org/agentlocator), which can help you find an insurance agentin your area. Alternatively, you can find a complete list of agents in yourcommunity by contacting your state insurance department.
Find out about their specialties -- It is critical to make sure that theagent you select has the expertise to meet your needs. One insurance agent mayspecialize in life insurance, while another is an expert in long-term careinsurance. Whatever their specialty, good agents will take the time to listenand will ask questions about your objectives, help construct a basic gameplan, and work with you to find the right insurance solutions for yourspecific needs.
Inquire about their education and training -- If you are not familiar withthe letters listed after an agent's name, ask about them. Professionaldesignations, such as Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), Chartered FinancialConsultant (ChFC), and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) indicate that theagent has completed advanced training, passed rigorous exams and is seriousabout professional development.
Meet face to face -- Interview at least two agents to establish a basisfor comparison in terms of qualifications and character, not just fees. Askfor customer references and check that the agent works with financially soundinsurance companies.
Ask if they hold any professional memberships -- An agent who is a memberof professional associations, such as the National Association of Insuranceand Financial Advisors (NAIFA) or the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), meansthey adhere to a stringent code of ethics and are committed to enhancing theirskills and knowledge.
To learn about life insurance and for more information on how to find agood insurance advisor, visit www.lifehappens.org. LIFE offers a wealth ofinformation about life, health, disability and long-term care insurancetopics, as well as online tools such as a life insurance needs calculator andan interactive product selector guide, to help you evaluate how much and whatkind of insurance coverage might be right for you.
The nonprofit Life and Health Insurance Foundation for Education (LIFE)was founded in 1994 in respons