This insurance issue is fun. It's nice to hear views from both sides of the
fence, so I appreciate Ray's comments. But just as some responses presented
good case examples, and then drew grand conclusions, so does Ray.
Part of what Ray Said is:
...It's just painfully simple, you only get the service you are
willing to accept.
You only get the service the provider is willing to give. With insurance,
like most other service "industries", procedures or requests outside of the
normal course of business, 'custom work' if you will, is like pulling teeth.
Some businesses do better than others, but the notion that all service
providers can provide excellent service if you demand it (or if that is all
you will 'accept') is simply not true. Perhaps what Ray means here is that
service providers provide minimum service as a rule. If you accept that
level, then that's all they will provide. That may be true. I would hardly
label that a virtue.
I'm appalled at some of the examples I've heard of here
on the Reflector in the last week or so...but I still believe that most
agents and their staff people are good, honest folk who want to help their
clients because it's the right thing to do and it keeps those renewals
a-coming. That's a win-win situation and as Martha says...it's a good thing.
If I were in the insurance business, I would force myself to the same
conclusion, otherwise I'd have trouble sleeping at night. A more skeptical
view might be that agents strive to do the least possible to get a renewal.
In my experience insurance agents must be skilled at providing minimum
response: Not so little that the customer feels cheated and goes elsewhere,
but also not so much as to set an unrealistic precedence that they will then
have to share with all clients.
I think it would be fair to say that an insurance agent's best client is the
one whom he never hears from, but continues to send renewal checks every year.
Everyone else falls somewhere into the "What is the least I can do and still
keep this client" framework.
That's not to say that insurance agents are bad or dishonest. Businessmen and
capitalist, yes, crooks, no (by and large). I approach this by simply
removing the agent as a priority consideration in insurance purchases. I want
the best contract. If I get the contract I want, then I don't really care who
the agent is. It takes more time and effort this way because you actually
have to read and understand the insurance contract, and then deal with an
agent who wants your business regardless of the merits of the policy. I place
my trust in the contract and the law, rather than an individual agent.
I learned long ago that it can be very dangerous to try and cloak service
providers as your "friends". Better to keep things strictly business and get
the contract you want/need. This holds for stock brokers, bankers, insurance
agents, real estate agents, etc. etc. Being friendly is always good manners,
but it's no substitute for a good contract.
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