This website was created to bring you information. The insurance and financial services industry has become increasingly complex and perplexing for the consumer. Because of the overwhelming changes and how companies do business today, many consumers are confused, uninformed, and without adequate representation. Compounding the problems are the mandates and laws that differ from state to state. These variances cause confusion, and at times, the flow of incorrect information.
We hope that you find the following information helpful in your evaluation of how to choose the right agent, product, and company.
Why JS Sherman & Associates?
Insurance is about money, value, and worth. At its simplest, it is a way of paying for the loss of something we value before that loss occurs. When our clients purchase a policy, they want to feel and understand that they are receiving the best product for their particular need. For this reason, it is essential that an agent or broker behave in such a way as to establish and maintain trust and respect.
Agents are the intermediary between the companies we represent and our clients. A primary duty of ours is one of fiduciary responsibility. We are required to make certain that each client is familiar with the particular company’s record of financial stability and exactly how that company administers and evaluates their benefits.
While there are individuals in our field who would naturally behave in such honorable ways, our industry, like all others, has individuals who put themselves before their prospect or customer. This is unfortunate, but something we encourage you to look out for.
It’s wise to interview and do some investigative work. Your agent is a member of your financial team, and at some point become an integral part of your financial planning process.
Information that you might seek to help in your evaluation;
- A list of companies (insurance carriers) represented
- Names of clients or references that can attest to his or her ethics, experience and knowledge
- Levels of professional achievements and continuing education
- Professional certifications
- An in-depth discussion of his or her expertise: If they claim to be knowledgeable in all areas of insurance and financial planning, it’s unlikely that you will get someone who is well informed about your particular need.
- The Department of Insurance has information and services available regarding non-compliant and illegal practices of agents and companies. This is information available to the public, and can be accessed by phone and various websites.
Using this process will help you find the type of agent that has the skills and knowledge to get the job done. However, a list of expertise or achievements cannot guarantee you the comfort level you need to feel about the agent. You could be spending a great deal of time and money with this individual, and here is where the trust of people and professional relationships take over.
Protecting the Consumer
As a consumer, there are a multitude of factors that can affect your insurance coverage. Here are just a few examples:
Long-term care insurance plays an important role in your planning. In an effort to compete, some companies have sold these plans with premiums substantially “below market.” Long-term care insurance policies do not guarantee the premium to be the same amount every year. Thus, a company suffering the financial strains and hardships of under-pricing can and have increased rates for existing policyholders, changed the plan designs for new policies, or just left the marketplace … causing a great deal of confusion and concern about this kind of coverage..
Changes in the direction of a company could materially affect the performance and ongoing cost of these policies. In an attempt to protect the consumer and preserve the integrity of long-term care insurance, the Federal Government enacted legislation that required all companies to re-file and re-price all newly written contracts. Unfortunately, this legislation also had a negative impact, causing many companies to exit the long-term care insurance market. Sadly, the Government’s intervention did not protect the consumer from these changes, nor did it provide solutions for the problems arising from the previously sold policies. The existing policies could be feeling the effects for years to come.
Another example includes the consolidation and restructuring of companies. This can change the quality of an insurance policy, and how the policy will perform in the future. Life, health, long-term care, and disability insurance plans often require the applicant to be in good health at the time of application. In order to make changes resulting from the “outdated” status of a policy, one may be required to re-qualify. If a medical condition exists at that time, the insured might not qualify for a new policy. And that individual will be stuck with inadequate and outdated coverage for the rest of their life.
Accessing Health Insurance Coverage
There are two ways to gain access to health insurance coverage. Group plans are often available through an employer, while individual plans can be obtained without any group affiliation. There are advantages to both options.
Advantages of Employer-Sponsored Group Health Insurance Plans
- The employer may pay a portion or all of the premium
- Premiums are lower because economies of scale in large groups make administration less expensive
- Some employers offer various types of plans
- Most employers have most likely compared costs and benefits of available plans, and will choose the greatest value all around.
Advantages of Individual Health Insurance Plans
- Can be used if your employer does not offer insurance options
- If you are self-employed, you have the option to obtain group or individual coverage
- You can get insurance coverage specific to your needs
- You can choose a higher deductible and higher levels of coinsurance to keep the premium costs lower