Figuring out Medicare is a frustrating task. The amount of mail that a consumer receives upon turning 65 is astronomical. Everywhere you turn, someone is claiming to offer you «the best plan.» Since you have only one open enrollment window, selecting a plan without fully understanding it can be devastating in the long run. It’s important to find a trustworthy Medicare supplement insurance agent who understands how various plans work.
How do you choose a credible person to work with who will care about your best interests? Here are a few tips for scouting out an ethical, experienced agent.
1) Beware mail that you receive directly from an insurance carrier. These are solicitations, and if you call the phone number listed, you will reach a representative who offers only that one company’s products. Does this person have your best interest in mind? Probably not, since he only earns his living if he can convince you that his product is better than the rest. Instead, you want a broker who represents numerous carriers so that he or she is not biased when explaining your options, and won’t try to steer you to any product that doesn’t fit your needs.
2) Look for an agent who specializes in Medicare-related insurance products. The world of insurance is vast — there are agents who sell group health insurance, individual health plans, cancer plans, disability, life insurance, etc. Medicare products, however, are complex and require considerable time on the agent’s part to be certified to represent these products. If an agent sells too many types of insurance, chances are he hasn’t put in the necessary amount of time to really know all the ins and outs of Medicare. In other words, a jack of all trades is the master of none.
3) Search for signs that demonstrate experience. Does the agent have a website with an email address related to that website, or does his business card say that you can email him at just a yahoo or hotmail account? Does he have an office location where you can walk in the front door if there’s a problem with a claim? An agent’s office is a great neutral zone where you can get the information you need and leave when you want to if you’d like to sleep on the information before making an insurance decision. In this day and age, you don’t want a stranger asking to come into your home to meet you because that agent doesn’t have an office. Meeting with this person in your home puts considerable pressure on you to buy something right then.
4) Lastly, does the agent have staff to help answer questions from callers like you? An agent who works alone will often be in meetings with other prospective clients in the future, so it could be hours or even days before your call is returned. It’s in your best interest to work with an established agency where there are employees on hand to answer your questions if your personal agent is on another call.
By following these tips, you can locate a credible, knowledgeable person who doesn’t pressure you, but rather approaches your phone calls and meetings as educational.The broker should take time to ensure you understand not only how Medicare itself works but also how the supplemental insurance product you eventually choose matches your goals. This broker can become a trusted resource and advisor for years to come.
In summary, consult an independent agent who specializes in Medicare-related products and is appointed with many carriers. He or she should have should have an agency location with staff trained in Medicare market products to answer urgent questions. The agent should offer to conduct meetings in an office conference room, or over the phone if you prefer that. Finally, don’t hesitate to ask for references. Any agent worth his salt can provide testimonials from satisfied clients who can share how the agent was helpful to them when they were going through the same process that you are.
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