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The Agent's File

by Guy E. Burnette, Jr., Esquire

The file of the insurance agent is another important source of information in any investigation. Most of the direct communications with the insured take place through the insurance agent. When the policy is initially obtained and the application submitted, it is through the insurance agent. When a claim is reported by the insured, it is usually through the insurance agent.

There may be any number of relevant documents in the agent's file. Most files will contain:

  • the original application for insurance;
  • related application documents prepared by the agent or insured;
  • photographs of the property to be insured;
  • detailed information about the size, age, construction type and value of the insured property;
  • "rating sheets" used to determine the insurable value and premium rate;
  • premium finance agreements;
  • premium payment records;
  • notices to the insured about delinquent premium payments or payments which have not been made;
  • cancellation/non-renewal notices to the insured indicating that coverage will be terminated;
  • requests for changes to the coverage and "endorsements" issued to make those changes;
  • the initial notice of loss (usually on an "accord form");
  • correspondence and phone records of communications with the insured before and after a loss is reported;
  • and any number of other records on the policy

This information must be obtained directly from the insurance agent/broker who dealt with the insured locally. Most agent's files contain notes, phone messages, slips of paper and even notes written on the file folder which must be reviewed. The best way to be sure that all of this is made available to the investigator is to go to the agent's office to obtain the file directly. In addition to the agent, clerical and secretarial staff may have been involved in various matters referenced in the file. With a visit to the agent's office, the investigator is able to speak with the responsible person to answer any questions about the contents of the file.

Reprinted with permission from the author.

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