What does “good” look like?
If you’ve heard that a good life insurance adviser is hard to find, you may well be right. Yet the vast majority of people living in New Zealand will, at some point, need to purchase life insurance. And when it comes to buying something that’s so critical to the lives and protection of your family members, you definitely need the right person to guide you through the process. And, ideally, be in for the long haul.
So how do you find an exceptional insurance agent? Will you know even one when you meet one? What you need is a life insurance agent, (or financial adviser or insurance broker) that will inform you clearly and without bias about the myriad products available and will honestly advise you regarding how much life insurance you will need.
We’ve put together a quickfire checklist that will help get you thinking and can start the conversation. Have a read below to find the 15 tips for finding a good life insurance adviser.
1. Ask Around
Talk to friends and family about their advisers. Word of mouth is still one of the best methods of finding a quality professional. But ask the right questions – what do they like about their adviser?
Why do they trust them? Do they think they’d be the right fit for you? Inquire as to whether they have any concerns regarding their agents’ ability to assist you.
2. Check the staff
When you first make contact with an adviser, you’ll probably speak to the agent’s office staff. How well did the staff member respond to your questions? Did they seem professional and resolve your requests in a timely way? A good adviser will have competent office staff.
3. Shop Around
Talk to 2 or 3 financial advisers. This way, you can do some comparisons and narrow your focus to the agent you prefer to work with. Plus, you’ll want to take the opportunity to find out about their credentials and work histories, which will help you to rule in or out specific agents. Pay special attention to each agent’s diligence in responding to your questions.
4. Check their Experience
Ask some questions around their background. How long have they been selling insurance? Have they worked for other companies or brokers? Gather as much information about the agent’s work history as possible, and think about what else is relevant for your decision.
We have plenty of tools and calculators to help.
It can be hard to figure out how much cover to get.
This simple tool is a step in the right direction. It won’t have all the answers, but you’ll have a much greater understanding of what you should be thinking about.
This tool will allow you to have a better chat with your financial adviser.
5. Check the financial adviser’s registration
In New Zealand, every financial adviser must be registered with the Financial Services Provider Register with the Companies Office. If you cannot find your adviser there – do not use them! New laws have come into force that tightens the definition of financial advice further in favour of clients and the public. There is more compliance for your financial adviser than there is for your accountant!
6. Favour Independence
Focus on obtaining an independent insurance agent. This type of financial adviser can sell a variety of insurance products from numerous providers. This is to your advantage. To explain: if you make contact with a specific insurance company and work with one of their agents, then the only type of policy that agent can sell is one of that particular company’s. However, with an independent agent, you’ll be offered a wider selection of insurance products with a better likelihood of finding one to fit your specific needs. The more insurance companies that the financial adviser interfaces with, the better the chance that they’ll be able to find a policy that fits you and your needs – and your budget – like the proverbial glove.
7. Trust Your Instinct
If an agent says right off the bat that they have the “perfect” policy for you, be suspicious. Finding the right policy takes some quality Q & A time between you and the adviser, so that they have a real understanding of what you need – and what you don’t. And don’t let them push that “perfect” product on you: the final decision will be yours to make.
8. What’s that??
Make sure they know how to listen. If they start pressuring you to head in a certain direction or focus on a certain product, they haven’t been listening, deliberately or otherwise. Vote with your feet and move on. An effective adviser listens and is attentive; they don’t get to do all the talking.
9. Takes Time to Get to Know You
A good adviser is one that will sit down and really focus on your financial needs, your deal-breakers and must-haves. His or her recommendations must be solutions that work well with your own personal circumstances and your situation.
10. Is Responsive
How quickly did they return your calls? Whenever you have questions or comments about an insurance policy or claim, a quality agent should call you back (or email a response) within 24 hours if they were unavailable when you called. You should be that important to them.
Visit our range of courses to help with your money matters
11. The Adviser Combo: Tact, Understanding and Knowledge
An effective adviser understands where you’re coming from. They’ll listen to you and then present you with facts and examples that provide clarity regarding the insurance you’re looking for, information that helps allow you to make an informed decision.
12. The Adviser Combo II: Honest and Impartial
There is no such thing as a dream product. Everything has benefits, and some will have shortcomings. A good, fair, and smart adviser will tell you about any downsides as well as the benefits of the policy. Their advice will not be biased, and they will recommend products that suit your needs (not theirs). This is especially relevant if you are changing your policy from a particular provider or modifying your risk management strategy.
13. Has general legal and tax knowledge
A good agent should be able to explain to you the general legal and tax implications of a policy. Specific legal and tax knowledge, however, should still be directed to your lawyer or accountant.
14. Is friendly!
There’s a thought! It’s a serious business, but an approachable manner is critical. You’re going to like dealing with someone that you’re going to like dealing with! A competent agent will have a smile on their face and openly chat with you.
15. And not pushy
The days of white shoes and “close the sale” are long gone. You should never feel pressured; you should always feel comfortable.
When you’re seeking an insurance broker you can trust, look for these characteristics. Trust your own instincts about whether someone is the right financial adviser for you. With a little background work, you’ll find an engaging, professional and knowledgeable agent whose focus is to fulfil your insurance needs. Your objective is to protect your most precious assets and find the perfect life insurance to protect your family’s future. Choosing your adviser is the first step.