One of the best ways to get cheap car insurance is by comparing car insurance quotes — and the companies offering them. To get you started, NerdWallet looked at car insurance prices across the country for different driver profiles and coverage levels to find the cheapest rates. We’ve sliced the data in several ways to give you an idea of average costs and what factors might nudge your car insurance rate up — or even better, down.
Competition exists between exclusive agents and independent agents. Exclusive agents, who are salaried employees of the insurance company, write a majority of the personal lines business. However, because of the complexities involved in commercial risks, independent agents capture approximately 80 percent of the commercial lines market. It is having access to multiple markets that gives independent agents a competitive advantage in commercial lines.
Independent insurance agents typically represent a number of insurance companies, or "carriers", and sell the products that most appropriately meet the needs of their clients. Independent agents typically are very well trained and knowledgeable of the complexities of the insurance market and insurance law. Their expertise allows them to advise their clients about appropriate amounts of insurance and insurance coverages for their particular needs. Often, independent insurance agents will work with insurance intermediaries, who obtain quotes from multiple insurance providers and pass them off to the independent agent. Working with an insurance intermediary service allows the independent agent to review many quotes and offer their clients the best policy options available. For their efforts, independent agents are paid a commission (remuneration).
To sell insurance products on behalf of a particular insurer, an agency must have an appointment with that insurer. An appointment is a contractual agreement that outlines the specific products the agency may sell. It also specifies the commissions the insurer will pay for each product. The contract usually describes the agency's binding authority, meaning its authority to initiate a policy on the insurer’s behalf. The agent may have permission to bind some types of coverage but not others.
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.
Using a broker can also simplify the process of picking insurance. There are so many different choices for insurance, with different limits and exclusions for each policy. It can be difficult to know which insurance and what level of coverage is right for you or your business. This is where an insurance broker can help. Using their experience in the field, a broker can analyze your risks and liabilities to determine exactly what coverage you need. With access to a variety of technology-based tools, brokers can make it simple to compare various options to determine which policies would best fit your needs. Using a broker eliminates the stress of learning about different types of insurance, and makes it easy to figure out what insurance will work for you.
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