One of the main questions I've been getting asked over the past few weeks is: What is an Independent Insurance Agent? The question was asked because of my recent move from being a captive insurance agent to becoming an independent insurance agent. Many people didn't realize that agents can handle multiple insurance companies and only believed that an insurance agent only represents one company. I wanted to give you a few thoughts on what it is to be an independent insurance agent versus a captive agent.
An independent insurance agent has access to multiple insurance carriers. They can shop for your insurance and find you the best coverage and great rates.
A captive insurance agent represents one company. Their contract with that insurance carrier does not allow them to place your insurance with other insurance carriers. Insurance companies like Farmers, Allstate, State Farm, American Family, and some others utilize captive agents.
So what's the difference between independent versus captive agents?
The independent agent has more options and more choices. They're able to shop your insurance with multiple insurance companies. The captive agent doesn't have those choices they're only able to place your insurance with one company.
The independent agent can shop your insurance at the start and renewal with multiple companies. Potentially switch you to a different carrier if needed. They do the shopping for you. If your insurance policy rates get out of whack, the captive insurance agent can't shop for it. This means you have to take time out of your busy schedule to shop for your insurance.
The independent agent can't lower the premium, they don't have control over the pricing. However, they can simply get quotes from other carriers to find you great coverage and better rates. The captive agent can't lower the premium either, they don't have control over the pricing. They must look at other ways to help you lower the rate, perhaps a reduction in coverage or raising the deductible. They have no option to shop for your insurance beyond the one company they represent.
I love working with my customers. I like getting to know them and I believe the customers like the work that I do for them. Working as an independent insurance agent allows me to do what's best for my customer, by giving them multiple choices. As a captive insurance agent, I didn't have a lot of choices for my customers. When the insurance rate went out of whack, I had little to no options for them and many of those customers had to leave me because the insurance rates were too high.
Insurance isn't all about the price, the insurance coverage is the most important portion of your insurance plan. However, price is an important part and customers shouldn't overpay for their insurance. As an independent insurance agent, I have multiple insurance options and carriers for my customers. This allows me to get the best coverage at a competitive rate.
So to paraphrase: an Independent agent gives you multiple insurance carrier options and the captive agent only gives you one carrier option. More options vs One option.