Choosing an Agent

After you have identified your beneficiaries' needs, the next order of business is to find an agent. There are a number of ways to do this. Collect several names and then shop around. A life insurance agent is an important person in your life and, as you would with a doctor, lawyer or banker, you should be satisfied with an agent's reputation and qualifications.

All states require that producers be licensed to sell life insurance. Professional designations, in the form of initials following an producer's name, indicate that he or she has devoted considerable time to the study of life insurance and family financial services. Those designations include "CLU" -- Chartered Life Underwriter, "ChFC" -- Chartered Financial Consultant and "LUTCF" -- Life Underwriters' Training Council Fellow. In addition, membership in the National Association of Life Underwriters indicates that the agent subscribes to both the professional and ethical standards of that organization.

When you first talk to an agent, be sure that he or she is willing and able to explain various policies and other insurance-related matters. An agent should look for ways to get you the right type and amount of insurance at an affordable price. Make certain that your agent reviews your coverage from time to time, advises you about other financial services and assists you when problems develop. If you are not convinced that an agent understands your needs or is providing the service you want, get another agent.