Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Does your insurance provider deserve you?

With so many aspects of our lives demanding the most from us in terms of time and research, it's bound to happen that some key area that we should be devoting effort to will fall short. For many people, this is in choosing an insurance provider who will best meet their household's needs. If this is you, there's no need to despair: while you may be locked in for the time agreed upon in your contract, the good news is that these agreements always have an end, which means that there's always an opportunity for you to catch up on the research you missed. If you are unsure of how to begin assessing your own level of contentment with your current insurance provider, here are the criteria you should consider:

Quality of service. Simply put, are you convinced that your provider's service is unmatched by any other provider? This is a service you are paying for—anything short of excellent shouldn't do. How easy is it for you to speak with a representative when you need to? How courteous are staff with handling your concerns? While all business know to talk about good customer service, does your company put their money where their mouth is? That is to say, does the day to day of how they deal with you reflect what they say are their priorities about customer satisfaction? How easy does this company make it for you to access information you may need? Do they use technology effectively? Are they putting effort into developing websites and apps that expand the realm of ways they can help you? Don't stop at a company that falls short in these ways.

Integrity. Determining the honesty and integrity of the insurance provider you are with (or considering) takes careful observation on your part. Listen very carefully to the statements and promises they make, and if you may have difficulty remembering them in the future, write them down and clarify with the agent you are speaking to so that you know exactly what is being promised. This way, later down the road, you can determine: has their been reneging on anything that was promised? A good way to judge whether this will be the case beforehand is to look at the company's advertising claims and strategies. Favour companies that rely on their excellent service and reputation, rather than the pressuring of consumers into sales.

Knowledgeability. It's important that your provider demonstrates knowledgeability of the industry at large, and of their products and services specifically, at all levels—whether you are dealing with someone in management, or whether you are dealing with frontline workers. A well educated staff means there will be less ambiguity around challenging situations, which in turn increases the likelihood of your needs being met efficiently and effectively.

Authority. How is authority with decision making handled by your provider? Do the agents working with you need constant approval or verification from someone at a higher level, or are they well equipped and trusted by management to make the best decisions for you?

Reputation. There are several ways to check a company's reputation, and the more of these avenues you employ, the more accurate your assessment will be. Start within your own community of family, friends, and coworkers to see if they have anything to say about the company you are assessing. Online reviews can be another source of information in this regard. It's also worth talking to local car repair shops and towing companies to ask what they have heard of various insurance providers.

Community. What does your insurance provider do for the community you live in? This is not a superfluous consideration: an insurance company that is continually striving for the improvement of a given community outside of office hours is one that will highly value the individual members of that community when it comes to providing them with service.


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