Thanks to the Internet, buying a health insurance plan for yourself or your family is simpler than ever before. You'll find lots of valuable information online and hundreds of sites that want to sell you a health insurance plan. But buying health insurance isn't like ordering a book. Purchasing health insurance is a serious endeavor and you'll have to provide some personal information to complete your application. So who can you trust? How can you shop smart? Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Shop with a licensed agent
When shopping for health insurance online, selection and assistance are important. Many health insurance companies sell their plans directly to consumers, as well as through licensed agents. But by limiting your scope to a single health insurance company you may be limiting your options. A licensed health insurance agent can sell plans from a variety of insurance companies, provide you with personal advice and assistance, and can work with the insurance company on your behalf to help expedite a decision on your application. An agent can be an individual or a company with multiple agents working to find the best plan to meet your needs. Licensed health insurance agents must follow stringent guidelines mandated by the insurance companies they represent and your state Department of Insurance. And buying through an agent won't cost you any more than going directly to the insurance company. Make sure any online health insurance agent you work with provides easy access to their state license number.
Make sure they have quality phone support
You may never need to call your licensed online agent, but you want to make sure that they're available when you need them. A reputable agent should never hide their phone number in the fine print. It may not be on the homepage, but you should be able to find it within one or two clicks. You'll want to be sure you're working with an insurance agent who's available for you not only when you're shopping, but even down the road after you've made your purchase. Courteous, helpful telephone assistance and easy accessibility, are a great indicator that you've found a quality health insurance partner.
Look for seals of approval or quality ratings
Quality insurance companies and reliable licensed agents will typically promote the approvals or high ratings they've received from consumer advocacy groups such as the Better Business Bureau, TRUSTe or A.M. Best. When choosing an online health insurance agent, look for a Better Business Bureau Online ("BBBO") logo. The BBBO provides reliability reports for online business which include specific company information and reports of any consumer complaints. Your online agent should also have the approval of an Internet privacy protection organization like TRUSTe. Some of the health insurance companies you'll see online are big names but others you might not have heard of before. Look for A.M. Best ratings for health insurance companies you have questions about. A high A.M Best is the benchmark for quality in the insurance industry.
Shopping for health insurance online might seem a little intimidating at first, but it's the best and easiest way for you to get the information, assistance and selection you need, and to make valuable connections with licensed agents. Follow these tips while you shop for health insurance online and you'll be doing what you can to protect your personal information and make the most of your time and money.
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