Today, insurance is rarely seen as a luxury that only the rich can afford.

It has become a necessity that most of us would require if we want to get anywhere in life with a sense of ease. As it is, life has a degree of unpredictability for which we must all adequately prepare for. Unfortunately, we cannot always prepare for every unforeseen and fortuitous event that may occur. As a result, getting ourselves sufficient insurance coverage or policy would afford us peace of mind in knowing that should anything untoward occur, we would not run the risk of draining our finances to address our needs. In this regard, insurance would act as the pecuniary buffer that would mitigate our financial pitfalls should they occur.

While availing of insurance is straightforward, it is not as easy as simply walking up to the insurance company and asking for a quote. To get yourself insured, you need to get connected with an insurance agent and ask them to draw up a coverage proposal for you. While insurance agents and brokers are generally honest and trustworthy individuals, it is inevitable for every industry to have a few errant representatives. Having said that, how do you ascertain that the intermediary you are dealing with is in acting in good faith? More importantly, how do you ensure that you can trust them?

As an extra precaution, it is recommended that you recognize the red flags when it comes to dealing with a dishonest agent. If the individual you are dealing with is doing any of the things listed below, there is a likely chance that they are dishonest or doing something illegal:

1.)  High-Pressure Sales Tactics

It would be best if you were wary of any agent who pushes you to buy a policy before you are ready. Typically, these are agents that would tell you that a certain deal comes with a time limit and, as such, would not last long. Similarly, they might also scare you into buying right away by telling you a rate hike is imminent. If your agent has any sense of scruples, they will not pressure you into buying a policy before you are ready for it. They will allow you adequate time to consider and weigh your options so you can make a better and informed decision.

2.) Quotes a Very Low Premium

Always remember that if a deal is too good to be true, it probably is. Insurance costs vary from one insurer to another, but if a premium quoted by your insurance agent is significantly lower than the others, you should throw caution to the wind. Be suspicious of deals that are too good to be true as there is a chance that your agent may just be trying to con you into buying a nonexistent policy or one that affords you very little coverage.

3.) Asking You to Pay Them Directly

Ethical agents would never ask you to make checks payable to them. If your intermediary asks you to do this, there is a reason for you to be suspicious. With that said, you should look for another agent should your intermediary ask you to make payments to them directly. Keep in mind that all of your premium payments should be sent to your insurer. In the event that you leave any kind of payment with your agent, whether it is a check or anything else, always be sure to get a receipt.

4.) Represents an Insurer You Have Never Heard Of

It is recommended that you do your research before choosing a policy as some fraudulent agents can make money by collecting premiums for nonexistent policies and event nonexistent insurers. To make their cons believable, they would provide fake documents that appear to be authentic. For this reason, you should take the necessary precautions by researching the insurance company before making any payments. Ideally, it is recommended that you only purchase from reputable and established insurance companies. In this way, the occurrence of fraudulence is less likely.

5.) Lacks Credentials or a Valid Physical Address

Any legitimate agent would possess a genuine physical address as well as an email address and a business phone number. Any agent who corresponds with you exclusively on his personal email or cellular phone should be avoided. Take some precautions by asking the agent for their insurance license number. Note this down and then verify whether the license is valid.

6.) You Don’t Receive Any Policy Documents

One thing you should follow up on after paying your premium is your policy or renewal documents. These documents are typically sent out to you within thirty days or so. If you have not received them, try asking your insurer for copies. Fraudulent agents tend to collect a premium for one type of policy, send the insurer a premium for a cheaper policy, and would then pocket the difference.

7.) They Urge You to Inflate the Value of Your Claim

Any insurance agent who tells or encourages you to lie on your claim forms is basically asking you to commit insurance fraud, which is punishable by law. Do not risk jail time or prosecution by reporting your agent immediately to the proper authorities and the insurance company.

8.) They Lie on Your Application

Unethical agents may lie on your insurance application to make it look acceptable. You may have had two prior claims, and your agent would show “no previous losses” on the application. Unfortunately, when your insurer discovers the truth, your credibility, as well as your agent’s, will be destroyed. More importantly, your agent’s lie can void your policy. If you suspect your agent has lied on an application, directly communicate your concerns to your insurer. In this way, your credibility is left intact, and your policy may need not be voided.

Transparency is vital when it comes to choosing a reliable and honest insurance agent. In this regard, ensure that you are dealing with someone you can trust by checking for any of the red flags above in your agent. In addition to honesty, quality and efficiency are good characteristics of a reliable agent. If you suspect your agent may be doing something illegal, do not hesitate to change agents and reporting your qualms to the insurance company. After all, it is always best to be safe than sorry.