Keep in mind, not all insurance companies use agents. You can do business directly with many companies by purchasing coverage online. These policies may be less expensive since the company doesn't have to pay the agent's commission. Regardless of how you buy the policy, make sure the company is licensed in your state, is financially stable and check to see if they have complaints.
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Nice write up. I personally have been able to save with an independent agent. A big concern of mine was finding an agent that worked with more reputable insurance carriers. There seems to be alot of agents who will use non-standard insurance carriers to provide cheaper coverage. I've heard some horror stories about customer service, sub-par adjustments, and claims services. I'd definitely do alot of research into the insurance companies the independent agent is appointed with.
Insurance agents typically represent only one insurance company. As a result, they are often referred to as "captive" agents. Insurance brokers represent multiple insurance companies. Thus, brokers are free to offer a wider range of products to their clients. They can search the market and obtain multiple price quotes to fit their clients' budgets. You might say that agents work for the insurance company while brokers work for their clients.
But the commissions are already built into the premium. Insurance prices are regulated by the states; each life insurance company’s policies should start at a baseline value that will be essentially the same cost to you across the board (except for the various factors that insurers use to calculate your rate, such as age and health). Each insurance company develops rate tables and then files those rate tables with the state’s insurance department. Because these rates are set beforehand, an agent can’t offer you one company’s policy at a different rate than you’d get by simply going to the company itself.
If you are in the market for insurance, you may have heard the terms ‘broker’ and ‘agent’ tossed around. While both are professionals in the insurance industry, these two job titles have some distinct differences. Both insurance brokers and insurance agents act as intermediaries between insurance buyers and insurers. They both must also have the appropriate licenses to distribute the insurance they are selling, while also adhering to any laws or regulations enforced by local insurance departments. The primary difference between an insurance broker and an insurance agent is who each represents. While a broker represents the insurance buyer, an agent represents one or more insurance companies.
A broker will help his or her clients identify their individual, family, business or organization liability risks. With this information, a client can make an informed decision about what type of insurance is necessary and how much insurance protection to purchase. A broker can guide clients on these decisions, and provide a range of quotes based on the client’s needs. This includes explaining the terms and conditions and benefits and exclusions for a number of competing insurance policies. Armed with this information, clients can find the most appropriate insurance purchase for their liability needs and budget. Some brokers may even be able to negotiate lower rates for their clients based on their history as an insured and the amount of insurance that they are purchasing. For example, a broker working with a company to obtain workers’ compensation insurance can first assess the type and level of coverage needed (which may be determined in part by state law). The broker can then provide a range of options from a number of insurers, and help the business pick the policy that provides the most coverage at the best price. Over time, the broker can gather and present information to the insurer to demonstrate that the company should be eligible for a lower rate, perhaps because the business’ workplace safety initiatives have lowered the number of workers’ compensation claims made against the policy. In this manner, a broker can help a client reduce its premium cost.
Virtually every state mandates that insurance agents and brokers meet licensing requirements, which normally entails the successful completion of a written examination. Prelicensing educational requirements may also apply, which can vary depending on the state and license type. Separate licenses are necessary for each line of insurance, including Life and Health and Property and Casualty. In addition, agents and brokers may have to meet ongoing continuing education requirements to maintain their licenses.
NerdWallet compared quotes from these insurers in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, as well as any other coverage required in each state. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier.
Insurance agents have a responsibility to the insurance company. Agents act as the insurance company representative in the buying process as they are typically salaried employees. Most insurance agents are “Captive” to represent only one company, such as: Allstate, State Farm, Farmer, etc. Because they are contracted as captive insurance agents, they are not able to discuss or recommend other insurance companies.
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One thing an agent will excel at is assessing your needs. In addition to buying the right type of life insurance, you’ll want to find an insurer that offers you the best rate. Insurers will charge you a higher rate if your medical history indicates that you pose a higher risk, so an agent could help you figure out which insurer penalizes certain health conditions more than others.