5 Things an Independent Insurance Agent Can Do for You

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An independent agent can customize an insurance package that best meets the policyholder's needs.

When shopping for insurance, it pays to know which type of agent you're most comfortable working with. Here, we'll introduce you to independent insurance agents and let you know how working with an independent agent can be beneficial.

Two types of insurance agents

The two types of insurance agents are "captive" and "independent." A captive agent (sometimes referred to as an exclusive agent) is contracted to work for a single insurance company and sell only that company's policies. In return, the company provides their captive agents with support, including setting them up with a workspace and giving them access to administrative staff. When a potential new customer reaches out to an insurance company, that company refers them to a captive agent in the customer's area.

An independent agent is not contracted to work for a particular insurance company. Instead, they are contracted with multiple companies. It's not an exclusive relationship, meaning the agent is free to sell policies from the company that best meets a particular customer's needs. Working with an independent agent means having access to policies from multiple insurance providers. If there is a downside to an independent agent, it may be that they usually can't sell policies from insurance companies that employ captive agents.

Here are five things an independent insurance agent can do.

1. Meet with clients in person

Independent insurance agents are spread out across the country, and chances are good there are at least several independent agents working in most areas. What that means is agents are in a position to provide personalized service. For example, if a policyholder's house is on fire and they are overwhelmed with decisions, an independent agent can drive to where they are and guide them through the insurance process. If personalized service is essential, it's tough to beat the access available through an independent agent.

That said, a dedicated captive agent can do the same thing, so it's not a matter of saying one agent's customer service is superior to another.

2. Provide one-stop shopping

Let's say someone has just gotten married and is planning to start a family. They've purchased a home and now want someone to help them dig through the many insurance options to find life, home, and auto insurance. Unlike a captive agent, an independent agent has more than one insurance carrier from which to choose. Based on the needs and desires of that potential customer, an agent can search through all the companies they work with to find insurance products. That may mean getting life insurance from one company and home or auto from another.

3. Find the best price available among multiple insurance companies

An agent who sells policies from various companies can provided customers with the best value possible. For example, an independent agent may know that Company A offers the most comprehensive homeowners coverage at the lowest price. At the same time, Company B provides the best coverage and lowest rates in auto insurance. Their ability to pick and choose companies means their customers have access to the best prices available to them.

4. Offer personalized service

Millions of people purchase insurance online, and that's the perfect setup for them. Rather than work with a specific agent, they call a toll-free number when they need to change their policy or make a claim. Again, this is perfect for some, particularly if it helps them keep money in their bank account. But others may prefer to work with an agent who will get to know the specific needs of their family and with whom they can develop a professional relationship. In that case, an independent agent offers that one-on-one personalized service.

5. Advocate on the policyholder's behalf

Independent agents act on behalf of their clients when it's time to make a claim. If a particular insurer is being difficult, it's the agent who does the negotiating. That can be a comfort for the policyholder in the middle of a stressful situation.

An independent agent marries the best of both worlds. Like a captive agent, they get to know their customers' needs and will have their back in a crisis. The added benefit is that an independent agent can shop from more than one insurance carrier to help clients find the best possible coverage at the lowest possible price.

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