No matter what type of insurance product you plan to take out, you’ll need an insurance company to provide it to you. There are a handful of ways to go about finding the right policy and insurer. The route you take should provide you with a policy that provides you with adequate coverage and comes with premiums that you can comfortably afford.
A couple of avenues you can take to secure an insurance policy is to work with an insurance agent or broker. While the terms “agent” and “broker” may often be used interchangeably, they have key differences. In this article, we’ll help you determine which one may be better for you when it comes time to take out an insurance policy.
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What Is An Insurance Agent?
Unlike an insurance broker, an insurance agent works for an insurance company and sells the agency’s products to consumers. They earn commissions off every insurance policy they sell for the company.
Insurance agents help consumers choose the appropriate policy to purchase. However, since they represent the insurance company, an insurance agent ultimately looks out for the best interests of the company they work for.
Two types of insurance agents exist:
- Captive agents. These insurance agents usually only represent one insurance company.
- Independent agents. These agents represent multiple insurance companies.
Both types of agents are paid by commission and can complete an insurance transaction.
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What Is An Insurance Broker?
An insurance broker serves as a middleman between consumers and insurance companies. They will search for the best insurance policies that best suit the needs of the clients they serve.
A broker will gather as much information from you as they can to make sure the insurance company and the policy closely match your needs. They’ll go over things like your budget, the different types of coverage, terms, conditions, and premiums. Ultimately, the broker will recommend a specific insurance policy that stands out as the clear winner.
An insurance broker does not work for one particular agency. Instead, they work for you and have your best interests in mind. Once a policy has been decided upon, you will be redirected to the insurance provider to finalize the contract.
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Overview Of Insurance Agents vs. Insurance Brokers
|Insurance Agent||Insurance Broker|
|Who they represent||The insurance company they work for||Multiple insurance companies|
|Number of companies||Captive agents: one insurer |
Independent agent: multiple insurers
|Any company within their network|
|Types||Captive and independent||Retail or wholesale|
|Expertise||They may or may not have the expertise required to recommend the best suitable policies||Have qualifications needed to recommend the best suitable policies to clients they serve|
|Goal||To help make their insurance agency a profit while helping consumers||To help ensure the consumer gets the best policy with the best rates and terms|
How Do Insurance Agents And Insurance Brokers Differ?
There are a few key differences between insurance agents and brokers:
- Insurance agents represent the insurance companies they work for, while brokers represent consumers.
- Insurance agents are only able to provide quotes for policies that their agency offers, while brokers can introduce consumers to policies from multiple insurers.
- Insurance agents can finalize insurance policies and complete coverage contracts, while brokers can’t.
- Insurance brokers typically have specific qualifications to ensure they have the expertise needed to provide the best service and find the ideal policies for their clients, while agents don’t necessarily have such expertise.
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Benefits And Drawbacks Of An Insurance Agent
- No middleman. By working with an insurance agent, you can work directly with a company without the need for a middleman. This can help you obtain a quote much faster since you won’t be going through a long list of policy comparisons. In turn, you can save a lot of time.
- Work with the same agency for all insurance products. You may be interested in taking out more than one type of insurance policy. In this case, it may be better for you to stick with the agent who represents your current insurer to get all the policies you need to stay protected.
- May not get the best price. Since you’re limited to one insurer, you won’t be able to compare policies. As such, you might not get the best price compared to other insurance providers.
Benefits and Drawbacks of an Insurance Broker
- No charge to you. Insurance brokers are free to work with. Instead of the bill going to you, the insurance company that you ultimately sign on with will pay the broker a commission.
- Your best interests are looked after. Since an insurance broker doesn’t work with any particular insurance agency, they look out for your best interests to find you the best policy with the lowest rates.
- Expert advice. No matter what kinds of questions you may have about insurance policies, your insurance broker will have the answer.
- Access to many insurance companies. Insurance brokers work independently, so they can introduce you to a myriad of insurance companies rather than just one.
- Access to many insurance policies. Not all insurance agencies will have what you need. With a broker, you can find the best policies that suit your needs.
- Sales pressure. Since brokers work on commission, they are under pressure to make sales. Some consumers may find this off-putting.
- Need to form a new working relationship. If you already work with an insurance company for an insurance product, you might not want to have to deal with a party you’ve never worked with before and may rather stick with your insurance agent.
Should You Work With an Insurance Broker or Insurance Agent?
There are perks and drawbacks to working with each one. To help you determine who to pick, there are a few considerations to make.
For instance, do you want all your insurance products with one insurer? Do you already have an insurance agency that you’re happy with and want to stick with them to take out a new type of policy? Then perhaps an insurance agent may work best.
On the other hand, do you want to find the best price on a policy, regardless of the insurance provider? Do you want the peace of mind knowing that the expert assisting you is not affiliated with one agency and has your best interests in mind? Do you want someone to do the comparison shopping for you? Then an insurance broker may be the route to take.
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Not only do you want to find an insurance policy that offers you the right type of coverage, but you also want a policy that comes with premiums that fit within your budget. You have plenty of options when it comes to finding a policy, including working with an insurance agent affiliated with a specific insurance provider or dealing with a broker who will do the legwork to find the best policy for you. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of each type of professional before deciding who to work with.