You can choose the right agent to protect your personal property and auto, or your company and employees.
Agents who are exclusive or captive
When you’re looking for insurance, there are three types of agents to choose from. A captive or exclusive agent is an individual who represents one company. Direct writers are companies who use these types of agents. Imagine going to a store and only finding one flavor of vanilla. It begs the question, “What if this particular company isn’t offering what I need?” The answer is difficult.
To get better coverage, you will need to look for a different insurer and agent. What if an agent represents an insurer with products that aren’t competitive? Too bad. The captive agent cannot offer any other carriers as an alternative. You can’t be a fit for the particular company’s criteria so you need to look elsewhere.
Loyalty is perhaps the most important question about captive agents. If you are in trouble or push comes to shove, will the agent support you or the insurance company – basically his/her employer? The agent may risk losing their sole carrier, and possibly jeopardizing their livelihood by going to the wall.
There are also a number of independent agents, known as “quasi”. These agents can represent one or more carriers. There are still some drawbacks to semi-independent agents. Agents who are the lead carriers must place the majority of their business with them. This ensures that the carrier gets “first look” at all potential clients. If you are looking for semi-independent agents, make sure to check out their yellow pages and web sites. If a certain insurance company is prominently displayed, it means that the agent is tied to that company. Although he/she might claim that they shop around to find the best price for clients’, what does this really mean? Agents might compare only one or two insurance companies. It’s impossible to accurately represent the market with hundreds of companies offering insurance.
We now have the truly independent agent. This agent is committed to independence and has relationships with dozens upon thousands of insurance companies. This agent has relationships with wholesale brokerages, which make it possible to access hundreds of other insurance companies as well as underwriting syndicates throughout the country. An independent agent isn’t obligated to or underwritten by any particular insurance company. This agent can shop with any insurance company if your situation is not suitable for Company A, or if you have other concerns.
Independent agents have the flexibility and freedom to find the best price, coverage, and service. Independent agents can help you maintain a relationship with your carrier even if they are not meeting your needs. You can simply switch to another insurance company. The best independent agents will troubleshoot their clients and will reach out to them to recommend a change. You can also be sure that your agent will fight hard to resolve any coverage or problem you may have. As long as the client is the top priority, the independent agent will gladly take on the insurance company. This is your chance to choose an independent agent.
Ask your agent when the last time they went shopping for you. Ask your agent to show you at least two, three, four, or five quotes from different insurance companies. Then you may be able to distinguish between the real and fake insurance companies. Select an agent that represents many high-quality insurance carriers and makes use of the competition to your benefit. Insurance is about providing protection for you.