Sometimes buying insurance seems to be like a courtship that leads to marriage.
You met up with the agent or the financial planner. He is well dressed and courteous. Listens attentively and seems to understand your every need. Rolls out the products effortlessly and walks you through every detail with patience and professionalism.
3 meetings later the wooing is all done – you sign the documents and write the cheque. The marriage commences and you hope for it to be a lasting one.
Then reality sets in.
The frequency of contact drops. He doesn’t check in on you as often. Not that you mind, since he is busy with other clients. But one day you run into some bad luck and need help to make a potential claim.
Your messages get the blue tick treatment.
The calls go unanswered.
One week turns into 3 months.
Its official. Your agent has become a secret agent, and is off the grid.
NB: We use the male example exclusively for convenience, not because male agents are more likely to turn into Johnny English. Females are just as capable of vanishing when they want to. Any sexist interpretation is purely your own, hor.
Till Death or Disappearance do us part…
Alas, this is all too common an occurrence. You may have heard about it from your friends, or even experienced it personally.
Before the sale, everything looked rosy and promising. You were sure he was the ONE.
Yet when you really need help with your policies, be it an address change, payment matters, or claims procedure, he is nowhere to be found.
Its normal to feel lost or betrayed. The question is, what actions are available to you? How do you protect your best interests? Do you want to stay in this marriage or initiate a divorce?
Practical Steps to take
Step 1: Stay Calm
A cliche but still applicable. The benefits of insurance come from your policies purchased, not your agent. It is important that you are aware of this.
He may have said things like “When things go bad, I will be the one to bring you the claims cheque” etc, but so can Singpost. The money doesn’t come from the agent, per se.
It comes from the insurance company. So as long as your policies are intact, your applicable benefits will still apply.
Side note: Some people think that without agents to remind them to pay their policies, they will lapse or be terminated. FYI, each insurer sends multiple letters to remind about payment before and after it is due. You won’t miss those, unless it is a deliberate attempt under your part.
2. Decide if you still want to retain his service
Continuing with the marriage analogy here, it is at this point when you decide:
Carry on with the marriage or initiate a divorce?
There could be a valid reason that he didn’t attend to you immediately. He could have been on an extended holiday, or having personal issues – or just plain busy.
If he eventually does come around and provides you with the level of service that you think you deserve, then you might decide to just close an eye on the matter.
Or you just want a clean break and decide that you want a better agent instead. Then go on to the next step.
3. Contact the Insurance company – and request for a change of agent
Its as simple as calling / emailing the respective insurer with the following lines:
I have policies XXX / YYY / ZZZ with your company.
I would like to change my servicing agent, thanks
Let the insurer take care of it, and you can just sit back. While you are at it, you could also carry on with the service requests that you needed your agent to help with.
Some people may counter:
But I bought multiple policies with different companies as my agent was from an IFA (Independent Financial Advisor)
That is absolutely not issue as well – when in doubt, your problems should belong to the insurer. They will contact the IFA on your behalf and get the IFA to propose a new agent/rep to service you.
4. DIY Is an option too
If you really need to get something done urgently, then it is also possible to roll up your sleeves and wade right it yourself.
These days, there is a noticeable shift towards customer-centricity and simplicity, as far as insurers are concerned. Their sites have been visually refreshed, and self service is also a viable option.
(When we first started the site, there were a number of insurers with crappy looking sites and complicated processes. Small fonts, messy design, and ugly aesthetics – you name it. 4 Years on, most, if not all of them have changed to clean, sleek, and simple layouts – enabling more people to self serve)
Calling in also will provide most of the help you need.
It’s not the end of the world, really
Despite the gripes that people make (popularized with social media) about agents shirking from their responsibilities, it is a straight forward issue to resolve.
Personally, we would chalk it up to a learning experience on how to better screen people (agents) next time, or look upon it as a chance to improve our own insurance knowledge (which is never a bad thing)
The bottom line is, there will always be someone else out there that is willing to service your policy.
So the next time you uncover a secret agent, just take pride in the knowledge that you are skilled in the art of counter espionage as well.
Now pass me my Beretta M9, I have “matters” to settle. Cue the James Bond intro music please.
www.ClearlySurely.com aims to eradicate the knowledge gap between consumers and Life Insurance. Our Vision is that one day, every Man, Woman, and Child will be properly insured.
We also love using creative (some say strange) analogies to explain stuff. It makes for a more interesting read, don’t you think?