Before getting into the major questions of how much life insurance you need or whether you want term or permanent insurance, do some homework on the company, says Allen McLellan, associate dean and assistant professor of insurance at The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa.
"You need to know how long the company has been in business, the size of it (and) its ratings," he says. "You also want to ask the agent, 'What are your credentials for being a life insurance professional?'"
McLellan says consumers can research the financial strength of their life insurance company by checking out their fiscal ratings through organizations such as A.M. Best Co., Standard and Poor's and Weiss Ratings. When it comes to the life insurance agent, McLellan says to look for designations such as Chartered Life Underwriter, Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Consultant.
"These designations take up to 10 semester-long courses to acquire," he says. "Those who come out of those courses are, at least knowledgewise, going to be quite professional."
Consumers will also want to know if their agent sells insurance from one particular insurance company or multiple firms.