Before making important decisions about your insurance policy, it is important to consult with a professional. Both insurance agents and an insurance broker can provide you with valuable guidance, secure the best deals, and make your life safer and easier. The important thing to consider when deciding between the two is the type of service you require. Understanding the strengths and limitations of these two types of professionals is key to getting the best coverage. So, what is the difference?
Insurance agents can be either “captive” or “independent”. Captive agents work for a single insurance provider, offering only the policies of their employer. Independent agents, however, work with numerous companies and will search for the best coverage and price among all of them. The job of both types of agents is to act as an intermediary between you and the insurance company. Working with a captive agent can limit the scope of your potential options, but can offer the most in-depth of any insurance professional when it comes to their company. Independent agents working with multiple companies can provide more flexibility.
Agents act as administrators to the customer. Their sole responsibility is to manage premiums and paperwork quickly and accurately. They are not responsible for ensuring that the customer has the most appropriate or complete coverage. They do not examine your case and recommend the appropriate plans, they professionally handle the plan you currently have.
Due to their close relationship with the insurance companies, agents can often secure better deals than an insurance broker, but with a downside. Insurance agents cannot investigate and assess your needs to provide the best coverage or advise you as to the best course of action.
The main difference with brokers is that with them, you are the client, not the customer. They work one-on-one with you, studying your necessities to recommend the best plan with the most appropriate coverage.
An insurance broker is similar to independent agents. They work with many companies and act as an intermediary between them and the client. An important distinction is the level of service the brokers are required to provide. All brokers are required by law to have a special license. Because of this, brokers are usually more experienced and educated than agents. Brokers can actually be sued for failing to deliver the level of service promised. If found guilty of poor service, a broker can lose their license.
One downside to using an insurance broker is that they may have knowledge of many companies, but lack extensive knowledge of any specific company. The personal care and higher professionalism and accountability can provide greater peace of mind, but it comes with higher costs and premiums. An insurance broker charges a commission on top of the insurance quote, unlike independent agents.
Knowing the difference between these insurance professionals allows us to make better decisions. There is no single best option for everyone, so when shopping for insurance, make sure to do research and decide what works best for your situation.
Captive agents can offer lower prices with more specialized knowledge of the company they work with. Independent agents work with many companies and provide customers with flexible and affordable services. Brokers offer the most personalized and flexible experience but are the most expensive option.
Agents and brokers are all highly trained specialists. Working alone on something as serious as your insurance policy is not recommended. These professionals will do everything they can to provide you with the enormous benefit of exceptional coverage.
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