One of the key guiding principle of insurance is Don't Risk More Than You Can Afford To Lose, which means having all major risk areas in your life well covered with insurance and it requires choosing a right professional insurance advisor.
Automobile, home, boat umbrella and other personal policies, as they're sold off the shell, rarely, if ever, cover all your major property and liability risks. But they will cover most, if not all, of those major risks if they're customized to your needs with proper coverage limits & appropriate coverage endorsements. Customizing a policy requires a great deal of coverage expertise & care. And that's why, for most people, locating & hiring the best possible advisor has to be the very highest priority when it comes to buying insurance.
We'll try to understand the insurance with the help of the following story before finding a right advisor:
Suppose you've been told you need brain surgery. If you shop for it the way many people shop for insurance, here's what you do: You start calling around town, getting quotes over the phone. You probably aren't exactly sure what kind of brain surgery you need, so you decide to get a price for the type that you think you probably need. You get quotes from all over - from surgeons, clinics, hospitals and even medical school interns. You're not concerned about skill - just price. After all, it's only brain surgery.
You find a clinic that will do the surgery you think you need for the lowest price. You sign up for the brain surgery. The intern who answered the phone when you called does the surgery, even though one of the top brain surgeons in the area works for the clinic and would do the surgery for the same price as the intern. The intern, lacking the expertise to diagnose the exact type of surgery you need, performs the surgery you asked for in the quote. The top brain surgeon would have known enough to recognize that what you requested was the wrong procedure for you and would put you at the risk for serious brain damage. She would have recommended a different, more expensive, but much more helpful surgery instead.
Insurance isn't brain surgery. But it isn't a commodity either. The moral of the story is that if you shop for insurance like this, you'll probably end up with the wrong diagnosis, with possible serious side effects, and with a less skilled advisor than you need and could have had for the same price.
Asking these questions to yourself will help find an insurance advisor easily:
Do I want my life, health, disability, long term care & other coverages with the same advisor? You'll have the best designed program if you can find one advisor with the expertise to oversee your whole program - expertise in every kind of personal policy. At the very least, it's wise not to have more than two advisors that you work with.
Is a regular, yearly review important to me? If so, add this to your shopping list. I recommend regular reviews. A well designed insurance plan starts to rust with coverage gaps if it's not polished up every year or two.
Do I have a home business? If so, you must find someone with small business insurance expertise. Add that to your list.
Are top claim skills important to me? Do you want the best possible claims coaching, to maximize your claim when you file it? Do you want an advisor skilled enough to fight, successfully, for your rights if your claim is unjustly denied or underpaid?
Apart from these, word of mouth is always one of the best sources when seeking a professional insurance advisor.