Finding the best insurance agent is important. My book, PayUP! Avoiding A Disaster With Your Own Insurance Company, stresses that the first step policyholders should take is to make a significant relationship with a great insurance agent. The journey to find a great insurance agent is not easy. How do you determine who the best agent is?

My research to help answer that question uncovered a fantastic 2017 article, Ken Hale’s Profile and Philosophy: Changing The Culture. Ken Hale is a commercial insurance agent. His paper explained what he thought was wrong with insurance agencies and what was needed to change insurance agency culture. If an industry insider can explain what to avoid and what needs to be changed in an insurance agency, policyholders can certainly learn what to look for when selecting an insurance agent.

Hale explained his motivation for the article:

My mission is to never sell insurance to anyone, but rather to change the culture of the insurance buying and selling process.

I happened onto the insurance profession somewhat by accident. In 1959, after serving in the United States Marine Corps, I sought employment through an employment agency and was placed by chance with an insurance company.

Over the next several years I ultimately was trained by three different insurance carriers as a Property and Casualty underwriter and in 1968 was employed by a large insurance brokerage firm as senior vice president of Michigan operations. All of these positions involved Property and Casualty insurance which, in short, relates to protecting assets from loss by fire, windstorm and other perils and insuring an entity’s assets from loss by lawsuits arising out of injury.

In 1972, I was able to achieve a law degree which ultimately led to opening a law practice. Because of my Property and Casualty background, I gravitated as an attorney to assisting clients with their insurance needs. This entailed reviewing their Property and Casualty insurance programs and seeking an insurance agent or broker to place their insurance and service their accounts.

After listing all the problems with the typical insurance agency, Hale eventually listed ten core values that an insurance agency should strive to maintain:


  1. Add value before we do anything else.
  2. Employ only the best associates.
  3. Represent only the best insurance companies.
  4. Place our client’s interests above our own.
  5. Become a trusted advisor to our clients in insurance and risk management concerns.
  6. Utilize insurance attorneys as team members on every commercial or personal account.
  7. Require coveted professional designations and continuing education of our team members.
  8. Act with the highest level of integrity and fairness to our clients, our insurers, our competitors and our associates.
  9. Concern ourselves daily with insurance industry market conditions and pursue alternatives for clients whenever available and appropriate.
  10. Maintain a sense of urgency as to all client and insurer needs.

Based on Hale’s article, here are ten topics that every business should ask in writing to a prospective agent:

  1. Experience and Credentials: “Can you describe your experience and credentials, and those of everyone else who will work on this account, in the insurance industry, particularly in property and casualty insurance? How do you train your staff?”
  2. Service Approach: “How do you approach servicing accounts? Do you prioritize efficiency over personalized service, or vice versa? Give me examples of what I can expect regarding the activities that your agency will provide for this account.”
  3. Client Needs Analysis: “How do you assess and analyze the specific needs of your clients to ensure their coverage is appropriate? Will you only meet with us just before renewal? When do you start the renewal process?”
  4. Policy Customization: “Do you offer customized policy options such as coinsurance waivers, replacement cost valuation clauses, or extended business interruption coverage? What kinds of customization are available for my type of business?”
  5. Document Review: “Do you review relevant documents, like leases, purchase agreements, and significant contracts, as part of your service to ensure comprehensive coverage? How and when do you do this?”
  6. Value-Added Services: “What value-added services do you provide, such as risk management advice or employee manual reviews? What do you do to make our account more appealing in the marketplace?”
  7. Insurance Carrier Relationships: “How do you select insurance carriers for your clients? Is it based on the client’s needs or other factors like volume commitments? How do you know you are obtaining great quotes for coverage?”
  8. Policy Clarity and Education: “Do you provide clear, plain English summaries of policies? How do you go about educating clients like me about their insurance options?”
  9. Professional Designations: “What professional designations or certifications do you hold, such as CPCU, CIC, AAI, LIC, etc.? What about others working on my account? How do you keep up on new insurance products and issues that may impact my business?”
  10. Client-Carrier Relationship: “How do you facilitate a relationship between your clients and the insurance carriers? How do you help facilitate claims issues?  Do you suggest underwriting interactions that can make our account more appealing?”

As noted in How To Pick An Insurance Agent, the best insurance agent for one business or person may not be the best for another. The best insurance agents will demand that the relationship be a two-way street. The best insurance agents are at the forefront of preventing a disaster with your own insurance company. Choose wisely. Do not be afraid to copy this article and send it to the agents you consider hiring.

Thought For The Day

The goal as a company is to have customer service that is not just the best, but legendary.

—Sam Walton