Signs of a dishonest insurance broker or agent

Pensions & Insurance Authority Forum: DOREEN KAMBANGANJI
DEALING with brokers and agents has its own merits as we discussed last week but, as consumers we still need to be careful. You do not want to buy a policy only to later realise that it is not what you signed up for.
Of course, you can get your premiums back especially for life insurance but this can be frustrating and you may not lose only time but money as you pursue the refund.
Let me emphasis that most insurance agents and brokers are honest, hard-working professionals and just like insurance companies, they are given annual licenses by the Pensions and Insurance Authority (PIA). Being in the financial sector, brokers, agents and other insurance players are expected to hold high integrity values. Insurance being a promissory business also needs to have honest people otherwise it risks losing the confidence of the public.
The PIA suspends and even revokes licenses of brokers and agents who fail to meet minimum standards. But since it is not possible for the PIA to see the day to day transactions, it is important that the public are aware about some of the bad traits and report these to the authority. It is important that you always deal with licensed brokers and agents. These are renewed annually and it is not automatic so always verify by checking on the PIA website, or call the authority’s office on 0211 251401/5. You can also ask to see a copy of the licence which should be displayed in their office.
Some signs that you may be dealing with a dishonest agent or broker include:
• A broker or agent who puts you under undue pressure to buy a policy immediately. An agent or broker is supposed to explain the various options available that meet your financial goals and encourage you to take as much time as you need to evaluate them.
• Like we explained last week, most brokers and agents make money in the form of commissions paid by insurers. Commissions are based on a percentage of the premium and vary by line of business. The more premium you pay, the more commission the agent earns. You should therefore scrutinise any requests for additional premium that you receive from your agent or broker or even insurer after the policy has been issued.
• On the hand, you also need to be on the lookout for agents who quote premiums which are unusually too low. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is not. This applies to insurance premiums. While premiums can vary from one insurer to another, they usually fall within a fairly close range.
• Another tell-tale sign is an agent who is difficult to reach. An agent or broker should be available when you call them. Make sure that he or she has an actual physical address as well.
• S o m e unscrupulous brokers and agents collect premiums from clients but then keep the money rather than forwarding it to the insurer. If you do not receive your policy within reasonable time (not more than 30 days), contact your insurer directly. Remember to keep your receipt carefully.
• A broker or agent who is willing to misrepresent your business e.g. by omitting losses or including blatant inaccuracies. You be in trouble with your insurer when these deceptions are discovered especially at the point of making a claim.
We hope this information will help you become more aware as insurance consumer and help you in identifying dishonest brokers or agents. If you have dealt with a dishonest agent or broker or having problems, please do not hesitate to contact the insurance company directly. Should you fail to resolve this issue, contact the PIA on email or call us on 0211 251401/5

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