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Choosing a Life Insurance Provider

According to recent figures, there are more than 2,000 companies in the U.S. that sell life insurance, along with numerous banks and credit unions that also sell policies.

With so many choices, how do you know which company and insurance agent will help you accomplish your life insurance goals?

The answer is simple: learning how to avoid bad insurers from the outset will help you protect your loved ones and your wallet from insurers that don't have your best interests in mind.

Choosing an Insurance Company

So you've shopped for life insurance quotes and narrowed down the insurers you'd like to do business with. But before you choose one and sign on the dotted line, you'll need to asses some key attributes of your potential insurance company.

Financial Strength
Life insurance is a long-term deal, so you'll want to make sure the insurance company you're considering has the funds to stay in business for a long time. You can check an insurer's financial strength by visiting the sites of AM Best or Weiss Ratings, which disclose this information free of charge.

Customer Service
When it comes to selecting an insurer, you'll undoubtedly want to go with a company that tends to your needs and pays claims in a timely fashion. Independent rating agencies (like A.M. Best) also have customer service ratings and information about previous customer complaints.

Ethical Conduct
According to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), some life insurance companies subscribe to a set of ethical codes and guidelines through the Insurance Marketplace Standards Association, which promotes ethical life insurance sales and marketing. It may be in your best interest to buy life insurance from insurers who belong to this group--giving you an added layer of protection against unscrupulous insurance companies.

Looking into these major components of an insurer will help you select a company that will engage in a lasting business relationship with you, address your needs and treat you with the respect you deserve.

Choosing a Life Insurance Agent

Now that you know what to look for in an insurance company, how do you select a good insurance agent?

You can find out if an agent is right for you by assessing some very basic factors.

A good agent will:

Understand your needs. A good life insurance agent will asses your personal situation, your income and your life insurance needs--and will design a policy to meet those needs.

Answer questions. A good agent will answer your questions in plain English until they're blue in the face. Insurance can be a confusing subject, and good agents will want to make sure you understand their product before you buy it.

Not pressure you. Sure, agents need to close sales, but a good agent will work with you until you're ready to buy.

Have proper licensure. Insurance agents are required to have proper licensure to sell insurance in your state. Inquire about the credentials prospective agents and follow up by contacting your local Division of Insurance to make sure they're licensed and registered with the state.

Make you comfortable. Don't discount your gut feeling about a life insurance agent. If it doesn't feel like a good fit, don't force it. The I.I.I. recommends asking for referrals from friends, relatives and co-workers for a agent you can trust.

When it comes buying life insurance, you'll need to be able to trust your agent to help you make the best decisions for your personal situation, not just for a few months, but for years to come.

Research and Save!

Investigating insurance companies and agents may add a little time to the shopping process, but doing so will help you choose a company that believes in ethical conduct, honesty and keeping your best interests at heart--helping you secure cheap life insurance for years to come!

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