There are times when asking the right questions can make all the difference.
In my ten years of selling health insurance, I’m sometimes amazed talking with potential clients who are calling me either after they bought a policy by themselves or from someone else. They often know nothing about the policy benefits or deductible, and many times, they bought it from someone who is not licensed. Because of these calls, I have decided to put together the five most important questions you should ask your insurance broker before buying a policy. My recommendation is that before you even discuss the benefits, network, your health conditions, or prescription coverage needs, you ASK these questions:
Are You a Licensed Agent?
If yes, please provide me your agent number or NPN (national producer number).” Asking this will ensure that the broker is knowledgeable and compliant with state laws, and you will be able to go to the state Department of Insurance to confirm that he/she has no complaints against them. As a side note, most brokers are licensed in many states, so do not be surprised if you live in Missouri but the agent lives in New York. The important thing is that the agent is licensed in your state, not that he/she lives in your state.
Are You an Agent or a Broker?
Agents work for only one insurance company, which is not in your best interest. A broker works for all insurance companies and represents them without loyalty to one specific company over the others. This means that your broker’s loyalty is to you, the client, and your best interests, not what will earn an insurance company the most money.
Are You Certified to Sell On The Exchange?
Every year, brokers must get certified to sell a health insurance on the exchange. Making sure your broker is up-to-date on their certification ensures that he/she can assist you with the application.
Do You Have E&O Insurance?
Error and omission insurance is insurance to protect you, the client if the broker makes a mistake in explaining policy benefits to you. It shows the broker is willing to be fully responsible to you.
How Much are You Getting Paid for Selling this Policy?
Yes, you read that right – you want to ask your broker how much he/she is getting paid. In today’s changing healthcare environment, most insurance companies are significantly cutting commission payments to brokers, so unfortunately, some brokers are selling policies based on the higher commissions they will receive, instead of what policy best suits your needs. Don’t feel rude asking this question – by law; a broker is required to be transparent regarding commissions if asked. If the broker you are talking to did not get upset or disconnect your call after the first few questions, you can feel confident that the broker with whom you are speaking is doing things the right way – with your best interests and the law as the top priority.