If you’re looking to change your Medicare coverage, there are a lot of options out there for you. Sometimes, it pays to have a guide. How do you find the right insurance agent for you?

First Steps

There are several places you can begin your search. An easy way to get trusted suggestions is to talk to your friends and family. In addition to knowing your likes and dislikes, they’ll provide honest, first-hand reviews to point you in the right direction.

The web is another great option to find insurance agents around you. Searches on Google, Facebook, or Twitter can show you what agents are in your area. You can also use websites like Yelp or LinkedIn to gather reviews.

Finally, Medicareful’s Plan Finder can help connect you with a licensed sales agent. Once you input your zip code, the tool will show you available plans in your area. After you select a plan you’re interested in and provide some quick information, a licensed agent will get in touch at a time that’s convenient for you.

Three Traits of a Good Agent for You

Once you’ve found an agent you’d like to work with, we recommend meeting with them to make the final decision. During this meeting, there are a few traits to look for to: Are they local, knowledgeable, and personable?

Local

If an agent is located near you, it’s easier to sit down with them in person to discuss your options.

Local means more than just having offices nearby. Instead, an agent should know the plans in your area, and be able to devote time to your geographical region. If an agent’s focus is too broad, they might miss over plans or options that would work well for your circumstances.

Have you heard the phrase the best ability is availability? If an agent is located near you, it’s easier to sit down with them in person to discuss your options. Plenty of business is done over the phone or email these days, but meeting face-to-face when necessary remains invaluable.

Knowledgeable

This is quite possibly the most important trait of a good agent. If you meet with an agent and they don’t seem to understand your situation, there’s no shame in looking elsewhere. Everyone’s health needs are different, and every agent’s expertise is different. If your needs and their expertise don’t match up, you’re better off moving on.

During your meeting, discuss the agent’s experience, and get a feel for where the majority of their business comes from. If you’re looking for a Medicare plan, you’ll want an agent with some practical know-how regarding senior health needs.

This may require a little research. After all, how can you tell if someone is knowledgeable about your situation if you don’t understand it yourself? Look over your medical records from the last few years, and see what services you’ve used the most. If you currently have a Medicare plan, see what gaps in coverage you want fixed. Once you know what you’re looking for, you’ll be able to see if an agent can fulfill those needs.

Check the designations an agent has to see where their expertise and knowledge lies.

Beyond experience, you can look into an agent’s designations or affiliations. There are several common designations that agents can have. One of the most popular is the Certified Insurance Counselor, which denotes expertise in a broad range of insurance plans. Others deal with risk management, and each type of insurance has a selection of specific designations. Some agents even become Certified Financial Planners in order to offer their clients additional services. Check the designations an agent has to see where their expertise and knowledge lies. Some agents belong to professional organizations which show their commitment to continued education.

Agents with broad product portfolios can serve more than your primary health coverage needs. Coverage for vision, dental, hearing, life insurance or even retirement planning may seem like an afterthought to the goal at hand, but it’s convenient to work with the same agent for other services you may need in the future.

Personable

Finally, you’ll want your agent to be someone you enjoy meeting with. This doesn’t mean they have to be your best friend, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore to meet. You’ll be working with them to find your plan, and possibly more in the future. If working with them isn’t pleasant, they may not be the right agent for you.

An agent doesn’t have to be your best friend, but it shouldn’t feel like a chore to meet.

An agent should also be honest. If you don’t trust them, don’t pick them. You should get the sense that they are working to find the best plan for you. If they push you to choose a plan that doesn’t cover your needs, that’s a red flag.

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Ultimately, your agent should be someone that fits you and your needs as well as you want your plan to. In fact, finding the right agent could be the most important step when finding a Medicare plan.