Please meet my State Farm agent, Megan McShea.
Before I go on, this isn’t a plug for her business. She’s been at the retail insurance agent game for 30 years and has plenty on her plate, enough so that she doesn’t need to pursue a securities license or other financial licensing requirements.
No, this is a paean to the flesh-and-blood insurance agent working out of a modest office in a mini strip mall.
Megan’s office had called me a month ago to suggest I come in for the equivalent of a doctor’s check-up. On Monday, I stopped by and I’m glad I did.
Turns out my homeowner's and auto coverage could use some tweaking.
On the homeowner’s side, it seems that our family was overinsured for our modest clapboard rancher, but a bit underinsured for personal items – lithographs, flatware, a Martin guitar and a watch I inherited from my father.
On the auto side, seems that I can adjust downward the annual mileage for my puny Fiat 500 now that I work from home.
We exchanged pleasantries, we shared facial expressions, we built up a rapport, we bonded. There was no hard sell, not upsell, no churn, no leaving me feeling like a number.
We talked about life, and life insurance, then we touched upon disability insurance (let’s revisit that in a year) and long-term care (not now but maybe later). It was one of the most pleasant insurance-heavy conversations I’ve had with anyone in years, and that's the way it’s supposed to be.
I’ve known Megan and done business with her for about 15 years, ever since we moved to southeastern Pennsylvania from New York in 2002. But in the past, I usually sat down with one of her two or three assistants.
This time, though, I sat down with Megan herself.
What struck me was the quality of the face-to-face interchange with my agent. That's when it hit me: I never would have engaged in this kind of conversation with an agent working out of a call center or through an insurance website.
I walked in at 4 p.m., when the sun was still shining. I walked out at 6 p.m. and it was dark.
Megan said she would send me some reports describing where we could nip and tuck my coverage, nothing drastic. Some coverage may go up, other coverage may go down. A few dollars either way isn’t going to make or break the bank, but the point is our discussion has helped us adjust to the relatively slow speed of my changing needs.
Meagan is literally “down the street,” a two-minute car drive through three traffic lights. Her presence lends me more than enough reassurance in case something goes awry.
Her office is closer than that of the other advisors we use: my tax preparer, my mutual fund complex and our out-of-state retirement advisor where my wife’s family keeps her assets.
I think of Megan as part of our community, which isn’t quite the same feeling I get when my mutual fund lines me up with one of their fiduciaries working in a cubicle in North Carolina.
Over the next few days, I’ll review our insurance coverage. If the numbers seem out of whack, I can always turn to the competition at Allstate, State Farm’s archrival.
As it turns out, the father of one of her daughter’s soccer teammates is starting his own Allstate agency in the next town. I’ve sent him my declarations pages to see if he can get me a better deal, although I’m perfectly happy with Megan.
He starts next month and his office to be isn’t close as Megan’s, but I know he’s part of the community and we’ve shared a beer or two at the local pub in the past.
Here’s a toast to the insurance agents stitched into the fabric of our lives.
InsuranceNewsNet Senior Writer Cyril Tuohy has covered the financial services industry for more than 15 years. Cyril may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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