When most people think about shopping for insurance, they think in terms of getting opinions from multiple agents. The real bang for your buck value comes from having an independent agent informally shop your case through multiple companies.

Case in point. I had a client email recently who emailed the following. “I’m a 28 year old male with a history of Hodgkins Lymphoma Stage 2B. I was diagnosed in June of 2006, Received Chemotherapy from June 06-November 06. I was determined to be cancer-free at that point. I then received radiation therapy in February 07 while in remission because that was the treatment protocol. I am active, fit, and have never smoked. The only medication I take is a beta blocker for a mildly fast heartbeat. I, however, have never been diagnosed with any form of heart disease nor have a I ever had a problem with high blood pressure. I have been done with chemo and have been in remission for over a year. I’d like to know if I qualify for any form of life insurance?”

Take that bit of history to your local agent, any agent that doesn’t have access to a large number of companies, and the news will likely be bad. As an independent agent I sent out a request for quotes to a large number of companies. These requests go directly to some of the best underwriters in the business and within a week I have opinions from all of them.

Based on the scenario above I received several “prefer not to participate in this risk” answers and the best I had after a week was two companies that said they would be willing to make an offer after one more year, but that it was too soon after treatment to offer coverage at this point. Then came the answer he and I were waiting for. West Coast Life came through with, albeit not a cheap offer, at least an offer to consider coverage now.

Bottom line. If I had been a captive agent to one company, or had a limited base of companies to converse with, the result would have been disappointing for this person whose cancer is in remission.