Shopping for Health Insurance

By: Dennis Alexander

When you are shopping online for insurance, health insurance or any other type of insurance, inquire with the caller to see if he or she is a licensed agent. If they are not a licensed agent (or have to get their 'manager' on the phone), hang up. If you are suspicious, ask for their license number and their resident state, look them up on the department of insurance website in that state. You can easily find department of insurance website of your state and they will usually have a link on the main page to look up license number. There you will be able to see witch companies license agent or agency representing and see if there are any complaints that are filed.

If you are suspicious of the insurance company (carrier), call the department of insurance in that state; ask for the carrier's rating and number of complaints that have been filed with the state. Remember, if you have submitted your information online, you will get several phone calls. Make these people earn your trust, remember, you are paying good money to protect you against a catastrophic health event that could ruin you, financially. The old adage holds true; "If its sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

After you have verified the agent, here are some questions you can ask about the coverage.
1. What is the name of the insurance company (carrier) and what is their rating with AM Best?
2. Does the agent offer multiple carriers (companies)?
3. What type of plan is it? (you want clarification) Major Medical, Hospital Surgical, HSA (Health Savings Account).
4. Does this plan come with a rate guarantee?
5. What is my maximum out of pocket?
6. Ask the agent their direct phone line, so you can call them back. Then, call them back a day or two later to find out what the status is on your application.
7. Have the agent email you a brochure.
8. ***Read the fine print***

After you received your policy, you have a 10 Day free look (the law in most states). Make sure the plan covers exactly what the agent explained.

As for buying from Call Centers also knows as large insurance agencies. In most cases you will be talking to employee of the agency. Working with some one who works for large insurance agency as employee does not mean that that person is going to be there for you in case you might need assistance with billing issues or claims in the future. If you are working with licensed agent you will have a direct contact that will assist you with any issues that might arise. Due to technology the agent does not have to reside in the state you live to provide you with great service and be there for you in the future. I would rather speak with an agent on the phone over having a stranger show up at my home. When it comes down to it, it does not matter where the agent is located. The most important factor is quality of coverage, a competitive price and a good customer experience. Don't be afraid to ask questions. Trust but verify.

And remember, insurance is to protect you from a catastrophic event that could ruin you financially.

Health Insurance
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