The internet brings us loads of convenience. We can do so much more for ourselves such as travel bookings, organising legal documents, paying accounts, buying a house, etc. Therefore, we might assume we can even handle our own insurance. Or can we?
A misapprehension that dogs the broker issue is that the internet will give a wide range of quotes which are up to date and independent, whereas a broker may only show you quotes from companies with whom they are affiliated. This is simply not the case. Brokers are more than equipped to multi-quote on your specific requirements; they are hardly lagging behind when it comes to technology because that would be detrimental to their business, and most importantly they are there to work for you, not the insurers.
Reasons for using an insurance broker are pertinent and important. Not only will you save yourself a lot of time, but you can also be assured you will have the latest, up to date legal information you need to make decisions that will ultimately affect your life. In addition, the face-to-face and highly personal option to chat about your concerns and questions, is very attractive. Let’s look at some key values:
The working value of a broker
- An insurance broker will bring years of experience to the table. They will ask the right questions, ensuring you are correctly risk-rated, and that the policies you choose are appropriate to your needs. A call centre agent is merely going to follow a set number of questions without going into your personal situation – a vital difference.
- The experience that comes with a broker includes technical, legal and industry knowledge, which translates into invaluable assistance when negotiating terms for policies and resolving claims.
- Because a broker is working with you on a personal basis, they are not going to advise merely on products they expect to get commission on, but will offer a greater range within your specific budgetary requirements.
- Filling in forms correctly and providing proper information upfront is vital to your being able to successfully claim at a later stage. If things are not executed competently right from the start, it could have an adverse effect on your claims process. A broker will guide you through all of that, ensuring claims cannot be rejected on the basis of incorrect information.
- Cutting out a broker does not necessarily save you any money. However, a broker must disclose his or her commissions and fees when you take out a policy.
- A broker is valuable with regard to renewals, updates, information and advice – but invaluable when a dispute arises. Not only will you need help with the technical aspects of a claims process, but you’ll also need your broker to fight on your behalf should a conflict arise.
- A good broker can supply advice across various types of insurance from short-term to life insurance to business insurance. They are obliged to be registered as financial services providers with the Financial Services Board and must comply with the requirements of the FAIS Act. This addresses matters such as disclosure, risk assessment and rights of recourse.
- An important point about brokers is that they update their knowledge through ongoing professional education via regular conferences and workshops. Brokers need to remain up to date in their field.
The FAIS Act and your broker
This means that your insurance broker must follow certain rules and regulations to ensure your protection. Under the FAIS Act, your broker must, amongst others:
- Ensure he has full knowledge of your circumstances, needs and objectives. And fully explain the terms and conditions of your policy.
- Disclose fees (commission and broker’s fee), and alert you to any increases in your policy premiums.
- Provide you with a policy schedule, which must contain the identity of the insurer and all relevant terms and conditions.
- Keep you informed of any changes to the conditions of your policy and inform you if your policy has been cancelled.
- Keep your information strictly confidential. He or she must advise on how to lodge a claim and provide you with the correct forms to do so.
- Chase up the claims process and keep you informed of every stage, and the final outcome within a reasonable time.
- Communicate with you regularly and keep up to date with your circumstances.
The personal best
- The best thing about a personal insurance broker is that they can save you time, money and sleepless nights worrying about whether you are fully insured and whether your claims will be met.
- They assess your level of risk and how to manage it, and what levels of cover you need.
- They provide advice and guidance on the purchase of the right insurance products for your circumstances.
- They are there every step of the way to assist you with the preparation and settlement of claims.
- An insurance broker works for you, not the insurer. They will negotiate the best outcomes for you and provide professional advice in your best interest.
- They use their considerable knowledge to reduce the complexity of insurance and negotiate the best possible prices.
- Without a broker, you will have to negotiate your claims on your own. If things go wrong, and you have a broker on your side, he will act as advocate between yourself and the insurance company. Whether from a personal or business perspective, this kind of help and protection is vital when dealing in the complex and sometimes confusing world of insurance.
Check your policies, check your life
VeriFi is an online tool that provides you with an immediate and up-to-date overview of all your life insurance and investment policies by sourcing information from all the major life insurance companies – and presenting the information in a comprehensive report.
With VeriFi you are able, for no charge, to access information on all your life and investment policies at a glance. You are able to check the types of policies you have, the names of the insurance companies providing the cover, the nature and extent of the insurance cover provided – and other vitally important information such as the details on your policies being correct.
To find out more, please visit: www.verifi.co.za