Perhaps it seemed like a good idea at the time. In 2008, gas prices were skyrocketing taking almost a daily increase moving right past the $3/gallon mark at the beginning of the year and headed to the $4/gallon by the middle of the year. One auto maker had a plan and a promotion to match the hysteria.
If you bought a new car, they would guarantee $2.99/gallon gas for up to three years. It sounds crazy now, but at the time, it looked like a huge blunder by the auto maker, not the consumer. The feeling at the time was that there was no end in sight to the gas crunch.
I remember being at a party with someone who had bought a car based on this program and listening to a friend chide him in late October about the offer. With a sly smile he quizzed, “So, are you still having to pay $2.99/gallon?” By this time, the market had stabilized and gas was well below $2.99/gallon and quickly headed below $2/gallon. Any “savings” had long since been negated due to a change in the market.
While insurance markets don’t tend to change as quickly as the gas and oil markets, it should be noted that what may have worked for you a few years ago may not be the best option for your current situation. Our job is to make sure your insurance program matches your current situation. For this very reason, we work with different companies, so we can find a company that fits your current needs and offer other solutions as your needs change.
I’m often asked what kind of work I do. When I reply I’m an insurance agent, the next question is “Who do you work for?”. Usually my answer is “I don’t work for any particular company, I’m independent.”
This always brings up the same question: “What does that mean?”. Since this question comes up so often, I thought I would share information today that explains how an independent agency works.
When I first entered the industry in 1980 I was an employee of an insurance company. The only insurance I could offer was their products. If it didn’t fit their appetite, I would have to tell the customer they would have to get their insurance from someone else. Or, if they had claims issues and their policy was cancelled, I didn’t have anything else to offer them.
After several years of this, I decided there had to be a better way. Surely there was a way to offer more than just what one company provided. I longed for the day I could say to my customer “If this company doesn’t want to do it, I have others that will.” That day came when I started an independent agency. As independent agents, we’re not employed by the insurance companies. We are contracted with numerous, well respected companies such as Travelers, Auto-Owners, Progressive, Safeco, Liberty Mutual, Foremost and others to represent them and offer their products, but they don’t dictate to us. You, our customer, along with our guidance decide which company best fits your situation.
Another area where independent agents are different is when you have a claim. We are your claims advocate. Since we are not employed by an insurance company, they can’t tell us to stay out of it in the event we feel they’re not handling your claim to the best of their ability. Most people don’t realize how huge this is. When you buy from an agent, you expect they will be there to assist you in the time you need them the most. Unfortunately, that’s usually no longer allowed unless you’re an independent agent. So, with that said, I’m proud we’re still able to do what I started twenty three years ago when I began our independent agency, and we look forward to providing this service to you for many more years to come.