Independent Insurance: Better Than Major Agencies?

There are two major types of insurance agencies: major agencies and independent insurance agencies. Each agency has its pros and cons. In order to select the best policy to fit your needs, learn what both types of insurance agencies offer.

Major Agencies

Major insurance agencies employ “captive insurance agents.” These agents can only sell insurance that is offered through the company they represent. They cannot mix and match insurance policies from other carriers. Major insurance companies hire captive agents to create business by selling specific policies to consumers.

Benefits:

  • Major agencies generally have a solid reputation and financial status; therefore, you may feel more confident and protected with a major carrier in the event of a claim.
Downsides:
  • Major agencies do not incorporate policies from other companies, so there are less policy and rate options for the consumer.
  • Major agencies generally have higher business expenses (e.g. captive agent salary, benefits, training); therefore, their premiums are often more costly than independent agencies, who offer commission-only pay.
  • Since captive agents only sell insurance from a single company, they are less familiar with the market and the competition.
Independent Agencies

Independent insurance agencies employ “non-captive” or “independent” agents. These agents can represent several different insurance companies. This allows for greater flexibility and, often, greater customer satisfaction.

Benefits:
  • Independent agencies offer a greater variety of policies, costs, and services.
  • Since independent insurance agents represent several different insurers, they have more freedom to tailor an insurance policy to fit your specific needs.
  • With an independent agent’s ability to cross-sell and compare multiple insurers, the consumer is likely to receive the lowest available price for their premium.
  • Independent agents offer superior expertise in their field, as they must keep up with the changing policies and rates of several insurance providers.
  • In order to better know your insurance needs, independent agents will work closely with each policy holder to develop a relationship of trust.
  • With an independent insurance company, if your needs change over time and you must adjust your policy, you won’t have to switch to another company. An independent agent can quickly and easily tailor a new policy to suit your needs.
Downsides:
  • Since independent insurance agents generally work on a commission-only basis, they may try to sell you more insurance than you need.
Decision Time

Before deciding which type of carrier to choose, be sure to compare each company’s customer service reviews, financial status, and reputation. You can do this by visiting the Better Business Bureau online. You can also speak with your family, friends, or neighbors to learn of their experiences with major or independent insurance carriers.

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