In the internet age, what is the value of an insurance agent?

From ordering food to reading a book to conducting a work call to getting an insurance quote, the versatility of internet applications and mobile devices offers a lot of convenience. In many ways, this has made life easier. However, when it comes to insurance, there is no replacement for the personal touch.

So, in this internet age, what is the value of an insurance agent?

Talk to a person when you have questions

You can get a good idea of how much you’re likely to pay for auto or home insurance by answering a few questions through an online questionnaire. Some insurance companies do all of their business online, from quote to claim. There are others, however, that are committed to providing in-person service through experienced, qualified insurance agents who live and work where their customers are.

“Most people start their insurance shopping online, and then they make a phone call, and then they want to come in,” said Pam Hansen Alfred, a local State Farm insurance agent of 34 years. “Insurance is very complicated. You could study it for hours and hours, and who has time to do that unless it’s your job? That’s where insurance agents come in.”

Having a person you can talk to face-to-face is helpful when you have questions to ask or concerns to resolve. Companies that exist purely online require all communication be done over the phone or on a screen, which can be frustrating when you need help.

“Companies that operate online that don’t have agents in offices, you can make calls all day long, but you’re never going to talk to the same person,” Alfred said. “You’re never going to make a relationship with a person.”

Build a relationship

Relationships matter, especially because people often deal with insurance agents after an accident, when they tend to be stressed.

“I’ve gone to fires and I’ve held onto people, hugging them as they watch their homes burn,” Alfred said. “You can’t get empathy and compassion from a computer screen.”

In addition to her relationships with policyholders, Alfred said her staff of six has developed relationships to the point where people call and ask for a staff member by name.

Keep your coverage up to date

You may have insurance coverage that does not make sense for your situation. This could continue for years, unless someone with a deep understanding of insurance steps in to help.

“A dedicated insurance agent should call at least once a year to make sure your information is up to date,” Alfred said.

For example, Alfred spoke to a businessperson whose successful ventures had led him to accumulate a comfortable level of wealth over the years. However, his liability insurance remained at $100,000.

“I asked him, ‘Are you worth over $100,000? If so, then if someone files a liability claim against you, your insurance policy is going to only pay that much out, and the rest will come from your net worth,’” Alfred said.

Don’t pay extra for a dedicated agent

A dedicated agent, rather than a call center, does not add any cost to your insurance policy.

“Normally you’d think it’s going to cost more, but it doesn’t,” Alfred said. “We have something we call a personal price plan where everyone gets their own rate. Your price is entirely based on how good of a risk you are.”

For more information on how an insurance agent can help or to get a quote, visit or call 406-453-6010.

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