I may be naive, growing up in an insurance family, there was never any questions about insurance or who you would go talk to if you needed help. 15 minutes at "the office," as my family cleverly calls it, and you would be able to get questions answered about your auto, home, life or health insurance policy.
I know that is not the case for most families and that finding a trusted source to handle their insurance needs is a big concern/problem. I also know that, like every profession, there are good and bad options.
However, I was stunned, shocked and a little appalled at what I'm about to tell you.
Kaiser Health News published a story last week by Eric Whitney of Colorado Public Radio, which covered results from a consumer focus group convened to help the Colorado state exchange board understand what consumers, like yourself, will need to effectively buy insurance from the soon-to-be created marketplaces.
The group surveyed 414 people from eight rural and urban locations within the state. The primary take away from the session was that the states and federal government have a long road ahead for consumers to feel comfortable purchasing their health insurance through such a system.
While there are some very interesting numbers in the article, there is one statistic that has had me upset since I read the piece on Friday. That is, 162 people out of the 414 specifically said they would NOT trust an insurance agent or broker to assist them in getting coverage, compared to 47 that said they would.
Hold on one second, 162 people would NOT trust an agent or broker?
That's 39 percent of the polled participants said they would trust ANY other resource to handle educating them on their insurance needs over the one profession dedicated to such a task.
That's as many games in an entire Major League Baseball season and more than three NFL rosters.
As an independent insurance agent, who prides himself on finding you the best insurance options available, I'm offended, ashamed and depressed by that number.
Why Don't They Trust You?
Like we said before, there is good and bad with everything. However, there are a lot of "insurance" companies that more closely resembles a late night TV infomercial scam than an actual insurance company.
These companies make getting insurance, specifically health insurance, sound like the best and easiest thing you will ever do. Don't get me wrong, buying insurance is vitally important, but there are things to know and proper ways to do it.
These companies are selling plans with very limited coverage and if/when people need them, they are finding out that they have been bamboozled.
Beyond that, there are a lot of agents who just aren't very good at what they do. They don't dedicate themselves to understanding what is important to you and which companies they represent can best meet those needs.
Let's be honest, it isn't that hard to become a licensed insurance agent, one week of online classes and a 70 percent score or higher on an exam gets you in. What is difficult is becoming a successful, respected and experienced agent or broker who is dedicated to their clients.
Who Would They Trust?
The most trusted source named by people, 138, was doctors, nurses and health facility staff, compared to 52 who would not.
If you will allow me this one outburst. Are you kidding me!
That's like asking a McDonalds employee where to buy quality beef. Sure they deal with hamburger all day, but they don't know the first thing about how to raise cattle, and process meat.
If that's not bad enough, 80 said they'd feel comfortable turning to exchange/marketplace staff for support, and ONLY 16 said they would not.
Now I don't want to criticize someone's job before they even have a chance to do it, but unless state and federal governments plan on hiring experienced licensed agents, which I doubt they can afford to do, chances are your insurance is going to be "navigated" by someone who took the job for federal benefits, generous vacation time and is counting down the minutes to their next "break."
How Are These People Making Insurance Decisions Now?
More than half of the people in the group were under the age of 30. When asked the question "who helps you choose a health plan now?" 215 said "parents," and 105 said a family member. Only 17 said they turned to the Internet for help picking a health plan now, fewer than 50 named brokers/agents (22), employers (45) or "myself/nobody" (44).
Only 22 people out of 414 currently use an insurance broker or agent to find health insurance?
I'm sorry, if I could have just one more outburst. Are you kidding me!
Why Should They Trust You?
If you have spent any amount of time on our site, it's very apparent that we are solely focused on giving you the BEST information and advice to assist you during such an important buying process.
Most of that process is already laid out for you to examine before you even consider filling out a form or picking up the phone. I even wrote a free ebook, telling you everything you need to know about getting health insurance.
It's who we are.
In some respects, insurance is our name. Our family has been doing this for more than 50 years, if we screw up your health insurance, we will still have to see you around town, at the grocery store or latest community event. Our reputation is on the line, we can't hide behind a big company logo or be replaced with next agent in line, we have to get it right for you the first time.
Even then, at the end of the day, if you put the family this and we have been doing it since Eisenhower was in office aside, we are working for you. We being, independent insurance agents. Our job is to answer to you, not one insurance company or the government, just you.
Now, I Need You To Do One Thing For Me...
I need you to ask yourself one question.
Do you trust your insurance agent?
If the answer is yes, leave a comment and share this article with someone who doesn't to let them know that we are out there. (I know, that was technically two things)
If no, tell me in the comments below why you don't and who you do instead? If you feel comfortable, share your experience that broke your trust and how it affected you and/or your family.