Working with a life insurance agent.

Couple meeting with agent

What does a life insurance agent do?

Life insurance agents and life insurance brokers both want to make sure you get the coverage that you need. They differ in that a life insurance agent works for a particular insurance company and a life insurance broker can help you shop for insurance coverage from multiple providers. Deciding between an agent or a broker depends on your individual needs; however, life insurance is not a one-size-fits–all purchase. So, it’s always a good idea to get expert advice from an agent when it comes to buying life insurance.

At New York Life, our agents are more than licensed professionals who sell life insurance products issued by New York Life Insurance Company; they receive training to develop their expertise in helping clients build financial security and peace of mind. This means they have the knowledge, education, and professional designations to provide advice and guidance that will help you meet your financial needs.

Do I need an agent to buy life insurance?

It depends. But wherever you are on your financial journey, a dedicated financial professional can often help you go further. Even if you have identified a policy that will work well for you, it would be smart to consult an agent before you purchase it, just to make sure that there are no angles you have overlooked, and that the policy aligns with your long-term and short-term financial goals.

When choosing a life insurance agent, you want to make sure that the agent understands your financial situation, including your goals and concerns; is ready to explain all the choices available to you and how they can fit into your financial strategy; is happy to describe the features of various life insurance policies to help you get the right amount of coverage and the right type of policy to fit your needs; and is prepared to build a working relationship with you to ensure that the policy you purchase is what’s best for you.

Questions to ask a life insurance agent:

Here are some of the most important questions you should consider asking an agent:

What is the death benefit for each policy, and how does the death benefit work?

This is the amount of money paid out to the beneficiary (or beneficiaries) of your choosing, so knowing the amount—which you determine based on your needs and budget—can ensure that those you leave behind can cover living expenses, cover the cost of your final expenses, and pay off debt.

Does the policy provide living benefits?

People often think that life insurance provides only a death benefit and are often surprised to learn that there are policies that have living benefits that the insured can use while still living.

How does the insurance company determine the premiums for each policy?

This is the amount you pay for life insurance, and the insurance company determines the premiums based on various underwriting factors like your age, health, lifestyle, and coverage choice.

Will I have an opportunity to make changes to the policy in the future if my circumstances change?

If your circumstances change in the future, you may want to adjust your coverage. You can regularly review your policy with an agent and discuss your options to make sure your coverage continues to meet your needs.

How does the claims process work?

Discussing the claims process is important, because you and your loved ones need to know the steps involved in making a claim when you pass away.

How does New York Life’s financial stability compare with the financial stability of other companies?

Learning about the financial stability of an insurance company is important because it determines the company’s ability to pay out death benefits. You can check New York Life’s financial strength and compare it with the financial strength of other insurance companies by examining the ratings of U.S. insurance companies by the major credit-rating agencies: A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s Investors Service, and Standard & Poor’s.

How to buy life insurance from an agent:

1. Talk with an agent

The agent will ask you for personal details, such as age, marital status, dependents, your occupation, and your income. The agent will also want to find out about your finances, including your big expenses (mortgages and paying for children’s college education), and if you have savings, investments, and other assets. This information helps the agent create a clear picture of your financial priorities, so he or she can recommend customized solutions for your situation. You’ll be able to take away a summary of the agent’s recommendations and consider them before you make any final decisions.

The process of working with an agent can save you time and effort when you’re shopping for life insurance that’s right for you. If you decide that you want to move forward, an agent can help throughout the application process and handle any issues with your policy. If you decide that you want to move forward, an agent can help throughout the application process and handle any issues with your policy.

2. Fill out an application

To get started, you will need to fill out an application in which you will provide basic information, including your Social Security and driver’s license numbers. You might need to submit an attending physician statement (APS) to help the insurance provider verify your medical history, and you should be prepared to share other medical information, such as details about chronic or preexisting conditions.

 3. Interview

After the application is submitted, you may need to have a secondary interview to confirm the information you provided and answer some additional questions about your lifestyle, hobbies, finances, income, and other insurance policies you have.

4. Take a physical exam

Some policies require applicants to get a physical exam before they can be approved for coverage. This is like a regular doctor’s appointment in which vitals are taken and blood is drawn. Remember, not all life insurance policies require a medical exam, and if you meet certain requirements, you can get approved for coverage without a medical exam. If you have questions about no-medical-exam policies, discuss these types of policies with your New York Life agent.

5. Wait for approval

Once you complete the application, an underwriter from the insurance company will take all the information you provided, including information from the medical exam, to determine your eligibility for coverage and your premium.

6. Sign your policy documents

If you’re approved and are satisfied with the quoted premium, you will receive policy documents to sign and approve, and you will determine how often you want to pay your premiums (monthly or annually). After the policy documents are signed and returned to the insurance company, you will have taken a most important step toward protecting the financial security of your loved ones.

This will also be the beginning of a partnership between you and your agent. You can check in with each other periodically to review how to adjust your coverage to accommodate life changes (like marriage or the birth of a child). You can also check in to weigh any other financial decisions; your agent is a great source of knowledge and is available to help you make the best choices. 



Want to learn more about life insurance?

A New York Life financial professional can help determine what’s right for you.