5 Questions to Ask Your Life Insurance Agent

For each type of insurance sold to consumers today there are many potential questions that can go unanswered.  Sometimes we don’t ask the questions because we are embarrassed by our lack of understanding.  In other cases we simply do not know which questions to ask. Regardless of the reason why, many questions go unanswered it is important each person understands the terms and conditions associated with their insurance policy.  This is especially true with life insurance — after all, you want to know that your loved ones will be cared for when you are no longer here to protect and provide for them yourself.

5 Important Life Insurance Questions

If you do not know the answers to the following questions talk to your life insurance agent to make sure you understand these important aspects of the policy and the company providing your coverage.

When can we talk?

When you pay premiums to maintain a life insurance policy you want to do so with a company that is accessible.  In a society where more and more people communicate electronically it is important to know in advance how and when you can communicate with your insurance agent.  If you have a question can you pick up the phone and call or do you fill out a contact form via the Internet? When you call do you get your actual agent or a call center representative? You want a company that is easily accessible and always ready to help with any needs that may arise.

What information can you provide regarding the companies you represent?

Your insurance agent should have access to all relevant data on the companies with which they work.  The agent should be able to provide background information regarding the finances of each company to ensure your policy has the financial backing needed should a claim be filed.  Using a company with a high rating ensures your ability to be paid on a claim when needed.  Also consider the number of companies the agent represents — the more companies he or she has access to, the more likely you will get a policy tailored to your individual insurance needs.  By getting multiple quotes from multiple insurance companies you are more likely to find the least expensive but still financially sound life insurance policy. In the process of shopping around, I finally settled on Genworth due to good recommendation from friends and their competitive pricing.

What fees are applied to the policy?

When choosing a life insurance policy you have to consider all expenses associated with the policy.  Will you be charged one flat annual premium or should you expect additional fees to be applied to the account? This information is vital to determine whether or not the policy will be affordable in the long run.

Does the policy have a grace period?

No one can predict what will happen in the future.  This is one of the reasons why we invest in life insurance.  With this in mind you need to know what will happen if you face an unexpected financial hardship.  Is there a grace period for missed payments or will your policy be canceled immediately?  Do not assume that you will have the luxury of “making up” payments. Find out for certain what happens to your policy and any invested monies if you find yourself unable to make a timely payment.

What is the claims process?

The purpose of life insurance is to ensure your loved ones are taken care of in the event of your death.  It is important that you and your beneficiaries understand the claims process to ensure the coverage that you have paid for is available when needed.  Your agent should be able to explain this process in a clear and easy to understand manner.  The process should also be written into your policy and include what actions the insurance company will take when a claim has been submitted.

We have touched on only a few basic questions that everyone should ask their life insurance agent.  If you have a question that doesn’t appear here do not be afraid to ask your agent.  A good life insurance agent will be able to anticipate important questions and often provide valuable information without being asked.  If your agent seems unwilling or unable to offer clear, concise, and easy to understand information regarding your policy you may want to consider finding another representative for your life insurance needs.

Additional Life Insurance Resources

About the Author

By , on Sep 21, 2013
Andy Tenton
Andy is a 30-something New Yorker who turned his financial life around. He took charge of his finances, got out of debt, and is now working his way toward financial success. He is the publisher of WorkSaveLive.com.

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{15 Comments}

  1. Uncle Casey says:

    It is CRUCIAL that everyone understands the claim process. The main reason you should even carry any kind of insurance is for it to be there for you in the event of a tragic event.

  2. Bargain Babe says:

    The more questions you ask, the better. I made a life insurance agent very uncomfortable by persisting in asking him what his fees were. He kept saying they were proprietary and such until I looked him in the eye and said, you are asking me to buy something but you can’t tell me how much it’s going to cost? The silence was uncomfortable, and he agreed to figure it out and get back to us.

  3. Lance says:

    Good points – especially on looking at the fees!! Thanks for the info!

  4. That’s a really good point about having an agent that is accessible. I love the convenience of doing things online, so I often fail to consider this point.

    I do have a fear that when it’s time for a policy to pay out, there will be some clause that I didn’t fully understand. It makes sense to get everything out in the open before setting up the policy!

  5. The question I would ask is, “Do you have this policy.” Then I would try to gauge their reaction and try to see if they are lying in their response.

  6. I have employer sponsored life insurance, but I know it’s not enough. Luckily my credit union is going to start offering it soon, and I’ll raise the amount.

  7. Jesse says:

    Very helpful. I get so confused with insurance stuff, I’ve been putting off talking to my agent for a while. I feel like I know what I need to ask now. Thanks.

  8. We’ll probably start looking for life insurance when we decide to have our first kid. I think we’re covered by work policies enough before then.

  9. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Great advice, it may be cliche but ‘knowledge is power’ and these questions will help your readers understand the product they are about to buy. I like this list.

  10. John says:

    One of my fears about insurance is that it is so easy to pay the premiums but how easy will it be to actually cash in when needed?

  11. Can’t agree more about the need for life insurance, especially if you have a family. It’s so important to make sure you plan for not only income replacement, but college costs for the children.

  12. All good questions to ask. Life insurance is something no one likes to think about, but you certainly don’t want your family to have to deal with financial problems if the unthinkable happens.

  13. Kevin says:

    Life Insurance is something that many overlook. Yet I know some people that didn’t have it and it cost them dearly! Finding the right policy for your needs is important and essential. Don’t gamble that things will always be ok.

  14. Crystal says:

    Great questions! We asked very similar ones when we were searching.

  15. Michelle says:

    Good post! We are probably going to start looking for insurance soon. So many things to think about!

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