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What you Should Look for in a Toronto Insurance Broker
Here are our top 10 tips for making the right choice.
Whether you need car insurance, homeowners insurance or another kind of policy, an insurance broker can help you find coverage that’s affordable and comprehensive. An insurance broker also offers a number of advantages over an agent, including access to a wide range of policies from various companies. But variety isn’t the only factor to consider. If you’re looking for an insurance broker in Toronto, you should also pay close attention to the kind of personalized attention they offer, along with a variety of other factors.
10 Tips for Finding an Insurance Broker in Toronto
What exactly does an insurance broker do? What makes a broker different from an agent or a direct writer? Most importantly, how do you choose the best one? Here are our top 10 tips for making the right choice.
Tip 1An Insurance Broker Who Works for You
Insurance is a very personal product. When you buy car insurance, you do so knowing you’ll only use it if you experience a crash — often a life-changing experience. And when you purchase life insurance, you’re making sure your loved ones are cared for after you’re gone. These are major life decisions, which is why it’s important to work with a trusted insurance advisor.
You have options when it comes to buying insurance. These options can be broken down into three different types:
- Insurance Agent
An insurance agent offers policies on behalf of an insurance company. In most cases, the agent represents just one insurer, so you will only see rates from a single insurance company. As you might expect, this can make it difficult to compare prices across several companies. If you want to compare rates, you’ll have to do all the legwork yourself.
- Direct Writer
A direct writer is a salesperson who works directly for the insurance company and writes policies exclusively for the insurer.
- Insurance Broker
Unlike an insurance agent, an insurance broker offers policies from a variety of insurance companies. An agent also works for you, the policyholder — not the insurance company.
In today’s busy world, it’s easy to see why most people prefer to work with an insurance broker. With a broker, you get access to quotes from a variety of insurance companies. At My Insurance Broker, we partner with 28 insurers, including the top 15 car insurance companies in Canada.
- Insurance Agent
If you needed a major surgery, you would probably prefer a surgeon with years of experience versus someone who just graduated medical school. Experience matters, and the insurance industry is no exception.
At My Insurance Broker, we’re proud of the fact that our brokers have 10 years of experience on average. We’re a family business that is 100% Canadian owned and operated, which means we understand the unique needs of residents and business owners in the Greater Toronto Area and Ontario.
Not all insurance companies are the same. Likewise, insurance policies vary across companies. Each insurer has its own criteria for assessing risk, which is why you’ll see different rates across companies for the same person and set of demographics.
This is where an insurance broker gives you a competitive advantage over an agent or direct writer. Not only does a broker offer policies from multiple insurers, they can provide policies for everything from your car and business to your motorcycle or RV. In many cases, you can bundle your coverage to receive discounts. And with an insurance broker, you can easily compare prices and policies with nothing more than a few clicks of a mouse.
Tip 4Know What Coverage You Need
Insurance is a product you hope you never need. No one wants to be involved in a car accident, or to come home to a flooded house. However, nothing beats the peace of mind of knowing you’re covered if the unthinkable happens. Some people assume that more insurance coverage is always better than less. After all, insurance is a good thing, right? Why not buy as much as you can? However, this isn’t always accurate.
When you’re looking for an insurance broker, look for one who is willing to help you determine what kind of coverage you really need. For example, if your car has seen its share of miles, it might not be worth paying for a more expansive policy.
Your insurance broker should help you select a policy that protects you without burdening your budget.
Tip 5Personalized Advice
Does your insurance broker take the time to get to know you and what’s important to you? You buy insurance to protect the things you love and care about. A good insurance broker should be committed to creating a policy that suits your needs and goals — something he or she can’t do if they’re determined to treat you like a number or a product on an assembly line.
The insurance industry is also constantly changing. Policies and market conditions evolve. Your broker should provide you with resources and information about changes that could affect your policy or your needs.
Tip 6Thorough Explanations about Your Coverage
Do you know what your policy covers? Like really, really know? According to Daniel Myers at Investopedia, a survey conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners revealed that “one third of homeowners believe flood damage will be covered by their standard policy. Over half think their policy covers them in the event of a water line break. Thirty-five percent say they will be compensated for an earthquake, and a slightly lesser proportion thinks mold is covered.”
But when researchers stacked these beliefs against reality, they found that most homeowners insurance policies excluded coverage for flood damage, earthquakes, mold and damage caused by worn-out plumbing, electrical systems and other parts of a home. In most cases, homeowners were required to purchase separate policies for these types of coverage.
Obviously, finding out your policy doesn’t cover a major disaster is a huge financial blow. Your insurance broker should work with you and explain exactly what your policy covers — and doesn’t cover — in various situations.
Tip 7Availability and Prompt Response Times
Toronto is the fourth-largest city on the North American continent. In other words, it’s a busy place. However, this isn’t an excuse for your insurance broker to wait weeks to return your calls. When you’re searching for a Toronto insurance broker, pay close attention to his or her availability, as well as how long they take to return phone calls or answer emails. Few things are more frustrating than chasing down an insurance broker when you have a question or concern about your policy.
An absentee broker can also be a sign of worse things to come. If you have a difficult time getting ahold of your broker, or you leave voicemails or send emails and then wait days or weeks to receive a response, this is a sign of a serious problem. If it’s this hard to get in touch with your broker know, what happens when you need to file a claim? Or follow up on a claim? Whether you’re buying a basic car insurance policy or multiple policies for your home, car and business, look for a broker who takes you seriously and treats you with respect.
Tip 8Familiarity with Your Business or Industry
If you’re looking for business or cyber insurance, it’s also important to look for a broker who is familiar with your industry or type of business. For example, if you run a bakery, your needs are likely to be far different from someone who owns a construction company.
This doesn’t mean that your insurance broker needs to be a member of your industry. However, he or she should demonstrate a basic knowledge and understanding of your unique needs. This is a reason why working with a larger brokerage is a good idea. With more brokers, there is a good chance you will find a specialist with deep knowledge of your type of business.
Tip 9Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around
As with most things in life, it’s easy to get comfortable when you’ve been with the same insurance company for years. Many insurers even offer discounts for policyholders who have been with them a long time.
Jon Linkov, a reporter for Consumer Reports, notes that doing a rate check should be part of your annual routine. “If you’ve been with the same insurer a long time, it might be tough to beat its rates, especially if you haven’t had any claims lately. In fact, a 2014 survey by the Consumer Reports National Research Center found that only 10 per cent of 19,000 ConsumerReports.org subscribers who compared premiums found that they would save money by switching insurers.”
That 10 per cent chance is worth shopping around for, though — just don’t be pressured to switch if you aren’t saving any money.
It goes without saying that your insurance broker should have the proper licensing and credentials to provide policies in your area. At My Insurance Broker, we are licensed to serve all of Ontario and British Columbia. You can find one of our offices near you with our convenient branch locator tool.