Auto insurance companies either sell policies directly to consumers through the website or they have an agent sell the policy and maintain a relationship with the customer. Although direct sale auto insurance is a popular option for many people, some insureds prefer to have a personal relationship with their insurance company. For these people, an agent provides an opportunity not only to buy a policy but to ask questions and customize the insurance to suit their needs. Many people develop long-lasting relationships with their agents that defines their satisfaction with the company.

Occasionally, it becomes necessary to change the insurance agent. An insured may move to another city or state. The agent may retire or close down the agency. In some cases, a person simply won’t have a good experience with their agent and will want to change. No matter the reason, changing an agent is a fairly straightforward process.

How to Find a New Agent

For individuals who are losing an agent due to moving to a new area, the first step is to check with the current agent to see if there are any referrals. Most insurance agents are part of a larger network, and the agent may be able to direct you to someone in the state or city where you’re moving to. If not, the insurance company’s customer service department may be able to find a referral as well.

In the event that the existing agent is retiring or otherwise leaving the business, he or she may have set up another person to take over the agency. You are under no obligation to stay with the same agency when the new agent takes over, but you may find that the new person is a good fit because they will have all of your records and may have been briefed about you and other accounts.

If you are unable to get a referral, you can search for a new agent online. Many websites provide reviews of various agencies so that prospective customers can decide on the best agency to use. Word of mouth is also very helpful in locating the best agency; check with friends and family to see if they have any suggestions or referrals.

When shopping for a new agent, it’s a good idea to take the time to meet with then before settling on a specific agency. An insurance agent should ideally provide a trusted professional relationship, and if you are not comfortable or do not like the agent, you will not get the best experience.

Once you’ve chosen the agent, all you have to do is set up an appointment to speak with him or her and update the policy information. The agent will access your account and add your file to their system; if they need to communicate with your previous agent, they will do so in order to ensure that they have your information up to date.

What to Do When You Get a New Agent

After choosing a new insurance agent, it’s a good idea to make sure that they have the policy information and any additional necessary information about you or your family. Most agents are able to access the information they need online, but double-checking the policy with them provides a good opportunity to check for errors and discuss your needs.

Some agents handle the insurance accounts differently, so it’s a good idea to confirm with the agent how they want you to handle claims, policy questions or other insurance-related issues. Some agencies are happy to walk customers through the claims system, while others prefer the insured to contact the claims department directly in order to expedite the process. Knowing in advance will save time and frustration for everyone involved.

This is also a good time to update any information, such as a new address or driver’s license number, onto the policy. Also check with the new agent to see if there are any new discounts you might qualify for that you didn’t in the past. A new agent may be familiar with new opportunities, or the move may have opened you up to new options that were not previously there.

Of course, it’s not always necessary to keep an insurance agent. If searching for a new agent seems like too much trouble, now may be the time to try changing to a direct-sales policy. This will enable you to update your policy through the website or customer service number rather than having a unique agent. Most insurance companies offer this option and many customers value the flexibility and freedom that it provides. If you find you prefer having an agent, you can always get a new one later.