Seniors traveling south to their favorite snowbird destinations sometimes ask us about the differences between buying their insurance policy direct from an insurance company compared to buying through a broker. You do have a choice, but we believe that the following compelling reasons highlight the value of using a broker to assist you with your purchase:
Choice and Selection
First of all, brokers/agents are not tied to any one policy, and work for their clients to find the best available option. For example, Insurance Company A may only have a policy that does not cover pre-existing medical conditions, whereas you may need a policy that does cover stable pre-existing medical conditions. At BestQuote, we carry a minimum of six different policies for each common type of insurance coverage, and in some cases we have more than a dozen different policies to choose from. As a result, we are almost always able to find something suitable for clients with special needs (like the need for a 7 day stability period, or one without a questionnaire).
As with any product, the cost of travel insurance can vary considerably. While one company may focus on Snowbirds, another may provide great deals to young backpackers. Therefore, it pays to shop at a broker with a good selection of policies, as opposed to calling an insurance company with only one or two options.
Representing the Client
Insurance brokers may represent many different insurance companies, but they always work on behalf of their clients. Compare this to the customer service department of a major insurance company: they only have one ‘brand’ to try to sell you – and their ob is to get you to buy that brand, even if its not the most appropriate coverage for you out there in the marketplace. Their hands are tied. They just want you to buy ‘theirs’.
Dealing with Problems
Insurance brokers often act as intermediaries between clients and insurance companies. In many cases, senior clients may not have a good understanding of the terms and conditions of an insurance policy, while your broker is familiar with the policies they sell. As a result, brokers can assist clients who believe that they are not being treated fairly by insurance companies. In some cases, this may involve asking insurance companies to reconsider a premium refund request or a claim that has been denied, whereas in other cases it can involve explaining the terms of a policy to a client who is not sure how to proceed. At BestQuote, we have often been able to resolve disputes to the satisfaction of clients by lobbying on their behalf.
Many brokers make an extra effort to help clients. At BestQuote, we have frequently processed last-minute orders for clients who are leaving within a few hours, or assisted clients who are already overseas and thus have limited insurance coverage options. We have also mailed policies to clients traveling overseas, and provided advice on topics such as ‘no-go’ zones when traveling overseas and how to deal with provincial medical programs before leaving on a long trip. AND, brokers are also often open for longer hours than insurance companies.
No Extra Cost
Finally, many travelers mistakenly believe that they will be charged extra by using a broker. This is not the case! By law, brokers are required to charge the exact same premium as insurance companies. The insurance industry is structured to compensate brokers for assisting travelers. Travelers should therefore take advantage of this service by contacting a broker to assist with their insurance needs.
About the author
Vance Derban is a licensed insurance broker at BestQuote Travel Insurance Agency. He can be reached at [email protected]