Consumers have gotten a lot more picky about buying life insurance.
They want to be sure that the companies selling them policies will be around when it's time to collect.
In a recent survey of 826 people, more than half said that they were concerned about the safety and security of their insurance carriers, according to Synergistics Research Corp. of Atlanta.
Sixty-one percent said that they would support stricter government regulation of the industry, and 69 percent said that a federal agency was needed to protect policyholders.
The National Association of Professional Insurance Agents offers these tips for buying insurance:
* Shop for agents as you would shop for a stockbroker. Choose one who offers the best combination of price, coverage and service.
* Check the independent rating services to see how they grade (( the various companies, then check to see if any of the grades have changed over the last few audits.
* Make sure the policy you buy is covered by your state's guaranty fund.
* Know the full name of your company and the state where it is based. Ask whether the company is an "admitted" carrier or "non-admitted." Non-admitted insurers usually cover very high risks but are not protected by state guaranty funds. If your carrier is non-admitted, make sure it is approved in your state.
* Looking for a day-care provider? Need a home-remodeling contractor? The federal government has a free Consumer Resource Handbook that offers helpful tips. For a copy, write: Handbook, Consumer Information Center, Pueblo, Colo. 81009.