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Three warning signs that an insurance agent is not reputable

Getting Medicare coverage means you will be dealing with insurance agents when you first enroll and any time you make a change in coverage. You need to work with an agent who has your best interest at heart.  

Here are three warning signs that an agent selling Medicare Advantage, prescription drug, or Medigap policies may not be the right one for you. 

1. Using scare tactics. “If you don’t sign up today, you won’t be able to get any coverage.”

It is against the law for insurance agents to make false or misleading statements in order to scare you into applying for coverage with a certain plan. If an agent states that you must sign up for coverage immediately or you won’t have coverage next year, he or she is violating the law.

2. Stating that Medicare sent him or her to your home. “Hello, I am a Medicare agent, sent here today to make sure you get the coverage your need.”

Medicare does not send anyone to anybody’s home. Agents are not allowed to come to your home to promote or sell any Medicare-related product unless you’ve expressly invited them to do so.  In addition, even an agent that you’ve invited to your home is not allowed to tell you about any plan options that you have not previously agreed to discuss—unless you specifically ask.

3. Offering a free item or other incentive to entice you to apply for coverage.  “You are invited to a Medicare plan seminar at LePosh Restaurant. Come for dinner and drinks and learn about Medicare plans.”

While it is always nice to receive a free gift, it is actually illegal for any insurance agent to offer incentives for the sole purpose of persuading you to apply for coverage. For example, agents are not allowed to give you cash in order to enroll in their plan, or a free meal during a sales presentation for Medicare coverage. 

Most agents are trustworthy and well informed but crooks and scam artists still exist. Before meeting with an agent, take time to ensure that he or she is licensed and has a relatively complaint-free history. Visit your state’s department of insurance website.  Find the link here

Last updated: 03-16-2015