Types of Insurance Agents: A Basic Guide
There are many times in your life when you will have to purchase insurance. Some of these times are fairly simple and you can easily compare plans on your own and make an informed decision. However, there are also times when choosing the right plan or even finding out which types of plans are not so clear. For example, when you buy insurance for your small business, when you buy home insurance or when you buy life insurance, you are making some very important decisions on a very complex subject.
When buying insurance that could have such a serious impact on your life, it’s a good idea to find an insurance agent to help you decide on a policy that’s right for you. There are three basic types of insurance professionals who can help:
Independent insurance agent
An independent insurance agent is an agent who is not hired by a single insurance company. Typically, the agent will work with a select number of companies, helping customers choose policies from one of them. This can be useful because different insurance policies can have different strengths and weaknesses, which the agent is familiar with. An independent agent is a good option if you are not sure which company you want to go to, but you know that the price ranges and coverage they offer will be comparable. Basically, you only need the agent to make sure you get the best deal.
Captive insurance agent
A captive insurance agent is one who works only for a specific company. Obviously, this type of agent is the right choice when you already know you want a policy from that insurance company. These agents will help you compare different policies to determine which coverage and price is right for you. They will only be policies of the same company, that’s all. Sometimes customers already hold a type of insurance with a certain company and prefer to buy new policies from the same company.
Insurance brokers are not agents because they do not sell policies directly. Working with insurance brokers is typically reserved for more complex insurance needs. Insurance brokers contact agents from different insurance companies to determine which policies are available, how much they cost and what type of coverage you can hope to receive. An insurance broker can even negotiate with insurance agents to lower the price.
Another reason why you may want to use an insurance broker is if you want a highly personalized insurance policy. If you are looking for an insurance agency that has policies tailored to your needs, an insurance broker could be a useful resource. However, more and more insurance agencies are recognizing that there is a strong demand for personalized policies. As a result, you may find an agency that offers these policies relatively easily, wherever you are.