New insurance agent

So you've just purchased a new home or car and are looking to get everything insured, both property and family. You might not know how to go about the process of finding a trustworthy insurance company, especially if you've had bad experiences in the past. The key is to know what's at stake and how you can secure the best rates.

In addition, you'll want to form a working relationship with your prospective insurance agent that goes beyond numbers and conversations on the phone. When meeting in person, you may feel a little bit more pressure or nervousness because you will essentially be negotiating in a face-to-face format, which not everyone is great at doing. However, if you are prepared with the appropriate documents and knowledge, you're much more likely to come out of the meeting with a smile on your face and a little money saved.

For the most rewarding insurance experience, here are six ways to prep beforehand:

1. Research competitive rates
When the time comes for an insurance agent to make you an offer on insurance premiums, you'll have to know whether you're getting a good deal or not. The only way to do this is to be knowledgeable of other going rates from competitors. You can show the agent that you are being charged more than you should, and can then take your business elsewhere. Convenient insurance quotes can be provided online through companies like CoverHound.

2. Settle on what you want
If you're not sure what to insure and for how much, then you could be walking into the meeting blind. Being unsure of your preferences and financial needs puts you at a disadvantage because insurance agents will use this hesitance to upsell you products and services you may not require. As a result, you'll end up paying more money and have an insurance package that isn't tailored to your specific needs.

For a better outcome, discuss insurance options with your family prior to the meeting. For instance, if you have a new car, you'll likely want comprehensive and collision coverage. Further, for homeowners insurance, a plan that includes the most protection against criminals, vandals and potential maintenance issues is probably the best bet.

On the other hand, policies that are superfluous or too expensive should be left out of the discussion. When you walk into the meeting and know what you want, the process is much easier and can result in cheaper insurance rates.

3. Identify applicable discounts
There are a host of insurance discounts available to drivers and homeowners. Whether it's related to energy efficiency or security features, you can save money on your premiums by qualifying for discounts. However, the insurance agent may not necessarily offer up these rebates during the initial discussion. If you're not aware of discounts beforehand, then you could be losing hundreds of dollars. Depending on the size of your family and how well your car or home is equipped with certain features like anti-theft alarms, you can lower your rates. But many times the onus is on you to bring up these cost-saving measures.

4. Prepare questions
You're not going to become an insurance expert on every topic, so be prepared to ask questions. This can create a beneficial dialog between both parties and lead to a greater understanding of your insurance specifics. Knowing exactly what's in your plan and how it works to your advantage is key. Come up with a few pertinent questions to ask your agent and make sure they are answered before you depart from the meeting.

5. Gather all materials
To prove your residence, license to drive and eligibility for discounts, you need the proper documents to back you up. Assemble a folder of financial statements, the deed to your home, social security numbers of you and your family, licenses and any information regarding certifications or training courses you may have taken in the past.

If you can prove you've installed safety and security features or are a risk-averse homeowner and driver, then your claims for discounts are more reasonable.

6. Know what to expect
As it turns out, you might not receive the rates you thought you originally would, or your insurance plan may actually be larger than expected. To know this in advance can help you understand if the service you are being provided is truly able to match your demands. This gives you a stronger strategic bargaining position and allows you to walk away if necessary.

Be prepared to have your background and credit history inspected, and know that insurance is a two-way street. Agents want your business as much as you want full coverage.

CoverHound provides up-to-date insurance quotes for drivers and homeowners in the U.S.

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