The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

March 16, 2013

A flesh-and-blood expert won't hoodwink you

By Shannon S. Stockdale
The Daily Star

---- — The commercials are funny and all, but if you really stop and think about it, insurance is anything but a laughing matter. Fifteen minutes could save you a few dollars but have you ever thought about what that same 15 minutes could cost you?

The trouble is; it’s too late once the time of loss comes. Many of us consider insurance to be more of a tax. We must have it to drive down the road or qualify for a mortgage to buy a home. It seems the purpose of having insurance has been left at the curb along with milk delivery, party lines and shoulder pads.

To make you whole again — that is the purpose of insurance. To replace what was lost. In those same 15 minutes you can do a lot of things. You can make a batch of cookies, pay a bill, read the newspaper or check your email.

Do you think really think you’ll have purchased the coverage you will need? Do you think 15 minutes is all the time you should commit to covering your property and liability exposures? What happens when you’ve had an accident and there is no one but a stranger three states away to assist you? Are they familiar with your situation or do you have to explain yourself each time you call in for assistance?

What happens if you aren’t happy with the settlement they offer you at the time of loss? What if you feel they’ve under-valued your vehicle? With direct carriers, you’re literally at the mercy of a 1-800 number. Will there be anyone you can talk to in person? Those fifteen minutes cost you a very important person who was included on that “older, more expensive” policy — an advocate.

That’s right — your insurance agent is your advocate. Anyone who has ever worked with a professional agent can appreciate the value that they bring to the table. There is a physical person to help you from start to finish. It starts with quotes, but we’re here to assist you through the claims process, help with billing questions and looking out for you.

It may take us longer than fifteen minutes, and we may trouble you with a few more questions. That is where the value is obvious though. We don’t like surprises. We want to get it right the first time. No agent looks forward to an upset client on their doorstep. That’s right; we don’t hide behind the 800 number.

The day you suffer an accident or a property loss, you’ll be stressed out as it is. Will you have the patience to dial the 1-800 number and make it through all the prompts? If you do, how high will your blood pressure be by the time you get someone on the phone?

A loss is a stressful time in one’s life, and that’s when it pays to have an agent — someone who you can call and even stop in to see.

You get what you pay for. Typically our rates are competitive with direct carriers, but there are times when their rates appear lower. Usually this comes back to coverage. Insufficient coverage could cost more than you ever imagined should you suffer a loss. Insurance is a contract that one shouldn’t enter without understanding the agreement. But insurance agents have been trained in risk management; we’re concerned that your policies not only fit your budget but your needs.

I saw a commercial yesterday that advertised an “anonymous” quote. That really got me going.

Folks, please don’t be fooled into this bait-and-switch marketing tactic. I am here to tell you, free of charge, that there is no such thing as an “anonymous” quote; those offered always seem super-cheap, until actual rates are returned. Then, those fifteen minutes resulted in nothing but a bogus quote offered only to keep you on the phone with a high-pressure salesperson. And you could have had that batch of cookies!

Insurance agents don’t sell to you. We cover you. That’s what matters most

SHANNON S. STOCKDALE is an independent agent with Gordon B. Roberts Agency in Oneonta.