Suppose you want to take out insurance. So bravo for the decision! Because many people avoid this topic as much as possible. But once the basic decision has been made, the next questions follow. Do you go online? To the representative of Allianz, Ergo or another local supplier? To an independent broker? Should you get intensive advice before choosing a special rate, or is it enough to do a little research yourself?
“The longer you are bound by an insurance policy, the more important it is to life and limb and the larger the sum invested, the more likely you will need to seek intensive advice before signing and think carefully about your decision,” says Elke . Weidenbach, insurance expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer center. She cites pension insurance, disability insurance and private health insurance as examples of policies that require intensive consultation.
The bottom: These contracts involve potentially high deposits and long contract terms. A change can be difficult and involve additional financial effort. Also, with some insurance companies, a change is no longer possible due to previous illnesses, or only with restrictions on insurance coverage.
On the other hand, for example, a private liability policy that no one should do without, according to Weidenbach, can often be canceled annually and is quite inexpensive, despite the blatantly substantial insurance coverage. “Here you can fix any errors in the conclusion sooner and faster because you can quickly cancel and switch back.” However, liability insurance may also contain some conditions that do not adequately cover specific risks. If you have a dog, for example, you must have your own liability policy (it is even mandatory in most federal states). “Anyone who enters into the contract on her own and does not get enough information beforehand may forget this aspect. A consultation can be very helpful here.”
€uro am Sonntag has compiled a list of insurance companies that have a low, medium or high need for advice (see chart below).
But where should consumers go for advice? “It’s crucial that the consumer be as fully informed as possible beforehand,” says Weidenbach. “You can also go to an insurance agent who only works for a single provider. Even if you’ve had good experiences with the agent and there’s a trusting relationship, that’s fine. But the consumer must know that many times not all products are one insurer are the best in terms of price and conditions”. The combination can also make sense: information through the Internet plus advice in a personal conversation. The number of these calls Hybrid customers are steadily increasing, that’s what GfK pollsters and McKinsey consultants found.
Before purchasing major insurance, you should always get an overview of your personal circumstances and financial possibilities. This is where an insurance agent can help. Then the question of certain policies sometimes resolves itself. First example: private pension insurance: Anyone who has taken out a consumer loan must pay it off first. Even those who don’t have the money on the high edge to cushion unforeseen incidents (say, a broken car) should first build up credit here. Only then should you consider an additional pension. Second example: term life insurance. If you don’t have relatives to care for and you don’t want to buy property on credit, you can usually do without it. Such an inventory often separates the wheat from the chaff when it comes to the quality of intermediates (see box below).
The situation is special for the so-called insurance consultants and consumption centers. They may only advise and not enter into any contract. The fee is between 100 and 250 euros plus VAT. If you want to enter into a contract, it is best to contact the insurer directly. Sometimes the so-called net contract is recommended, in which commissions are not included and which is therefore cheaper than the otherwise identical commission contract.
Fee versus commission
An insurance consultant is also worthwhile if it turns out in the discussion that the intended insurance is not necessary at all. Because the fee flows even if you advise against a deal, you will not provide commission-based advice. However, there are only exactly 337 insurance advisors in the whole country, and many specialize in certain types of insurance and are not responsible for general issues (list at www.bvvb.de). In the consumer advice centers there are only a few dozen advice options (list at www.Verbraucherzentrale.de).
And you don’t have to go to an insurance advisor with every issue. “For a liability contract, which normally costs a few dozen euros a year, I don’t have to spend an additional 100 euros on fees,” says Helge Kühl from Neudorf-Bornstein near Kiel, who acts on a fee for the insurance of pensions and commission for all other policies.
In addition to insurance agents, all other types of brokers work on commission. But there are also important differences here:
Representative of a single company / exclusive representative
You work for an individual insurance company that pays the intermediary a commission for the sale of their own products. Its offices are recognizable mainly by the fact that only one insurance company sign can be seen. Disadvantage: The customer hardly has a choice. Advantage: A good representative maintains close contact with their customers. This can help with claims settlement, for example. The insurer is fully responsible for any errors made by the intermediary. The well-known advertising personality “Mr. Kaiser” was such an exclusive representative, in this case for Hamburg-Mannheimer, that it has now merged with the Ergo insurance group.
They correct policies on behalf of their bank, usually at their branches. A certain money house almost always has only one cooperative partner on the insurance side. Examples of such cooperation are Deutsche Bank/Zurich Versicherung, Hypovereinsbank/Allianz, Volks- und Raiffeisenbanken/R + V. Advantage: You get banking and insurance products from a single source. Disadvantages: The customer has little choice and may not realize that there is only one supplier of products. The bank is effectively an exclusive agent and is responsible for its employees. Caution: the Postbank, for example, had for some time worked with free agents who sat in bank branches and, at least at first glance, were indistinguishable from employees. As far as liability is concerned, Postbank rejected all claims.
He works for several insurance companies. As with the representative of a company, the respective insurer is responsible for errors. Most financial service providers, such as DVAG, OVB and Swiss Life Select, fall into this category. Advantage: greater selection than with a representative of a single company. Disadvantage: The selection is usually limited to a few companies. Brokers and comparison portals usually offer more here.
It could be a bicycle dealer, for example, who sells his customers insurance to match their new bicycle. Advantage: easy handling. Disadvantage: Usually there is only one product on sale.
They always work with many companies and therefore have a large selection of offers ready. They identify a favorable policy on behalf of the client and are also personally liable if they make a mistake in advising (so they should take out appropriate professional indemnity insurance). They also charge commissions from insurers for mediation. Some financial dealers, like MLPs, are also brokers. Advantage: The broker is legally obligated to provide its clients with the best possible insurance coverage. Disadvantages: It is difficult to prove if you are also a broker for a provider due to their high commission. Almost never does a broker have all the insurers with all the products on offer.
Check24 and Verivox are also brokers that make money from mediation. Advantage: Handling is easy. Disadvantage: Not all insurers are represented on all portals. For example, market leader HUK-Coburg completely refuses to use this sales channel for motor vehicle insurance, while Allianz, second in the industry, only participates to a limited extent.
Recently created companies such as Wefox, Knip or Clark have developed free programs that customers can use to comfortably manage their insurance policies through a smartphone. A client must first transfer a brokerage mandate to the provider. That means: You transfer your entire insurance with personal data such as place of residence, income and marital status from your previous insurance agent to a new company. Advantage: easy handling and overview of existing contracts. Disadvantage: You give up the possibly close relationship with your previous supervisor. Problems caused by insolvency are very possible for young companies.
take a look: HOW MUCH ADVICE DOES WHICH POLICEMAN NEED? PDF
How to recognize a good insurance broker Although the number of insurance brokers is falling, there are still almost 200,000. How do you find the right one? Here are some helpful questions:
How long has it been on the market? This can demonstrate a long-term business approach.
Do you clarify your status on your own? That indicates seriousness.
Does he ask you for details and take stock of your economic and life circumstances? This indicates genuine interest.
Does it offer good value for money (compared to other intermediaries/distribution channels)? That shows competitiveness.
Do trusted people in your personal environment recommend it? That deserves a leap of faith.
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