Although many folks tend to purchase their insurance straight from an insurance provider, there are alternative options that may offer you the chance at finding better rates and policies that are better suited to your individual needs.
Shopping with local insurance agents and brokers gives you the opportunity to consider a wider variety of policies with an expert dedicated to helping you find the best possible rates. And that’s the most important thing to us!
An insurance agent typically works directly for one insurance provider from a local office. The agent meets with you in person to discuss the insurance company’s policy offerings, rates, and any discounts that may be available to you.
On the other hand, brokers are authorized to sell insurance for multiple companies. Brokers can offer you a broader range of coverage options and can do the shopping around for great rates on your behalf, saving you time and frustration.
That’s big! Brokers work to find the best protection at the lowest available rate for your vehicle.
What’s the Difference Between an Insurance Agent and a Broker?
In the insurance industry, there are three main types of insurance agents.
It’s important to know the difference between them, so you’re able to get the best possible rates from top insurance providers.
#1 – Captive Agents
While they’re able to provide you with a customized policy and know how to save you money on your insurance, they can only provide you with rates and policy information from the specific company for which they sell.
This means captive agents don’t represent you. They represent the company they work for.
#2 – Independent Insurance Agents
They’re authorized to sell insurance policies from many insurance providers and can assist you in comparing rates and coverage options. While they can help you to shop around for the best deal, they are still paid a commission by and work for the insurance companies.
In other words, they do not represent you as does an insurance broker.
#3- Insurance Broker
They work directly for you the consumer, and therefore, may charge a fee when setting up a new insurance policy for you.
However, as an independent local insurance agent, they can help you to shop around for the best insurance, rates, and discounts. And, they represent you not an insurance provider or companies.
How to Find a Local Insurance Agent or Broker Near You
While it’s not difficult to find a broker, finding one you can trust is sometimes another story.
We recommend you follow these steps to find an excellent local insurance agent or broker.
Ask Friends and Family for Recommendations
Before taking to the web to conduct your search, ask friends and family if they might know a good insurance agent or broker who can speak with you and make recommendations.
Most likely, you’ll get several names of trustworthy insurance salespeople to choose from. This really is one of the best ways to find a great agent or broker.
Search Online for Reviews
Once you’ve found a local insurance agent or broker you like working with, you can then search for online reviews of that agent.
If you’re unable to find reviews for the specific agent, search for the brokerage or office location where they work. This can give you a better understanding of their customer satisfaction, policy offerings, and rates to make sure they are a good fit for you.
There are several places you can conduct your search, where you can find honest reviews from previous and current customers. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is another reliable place to search online.
There, you’ll find legitimate reviews, the company’s BBB rating, and information on whether the company is BBB accredited.
Schedule a Meeting Before Making a Commitment
Once you’ve done your online research and have chosen a local insurance agent or a broker, go ahead and schedule a face-to-face meeting so you can go over your car insurance options in detail.
Make sure the agent or broker is able to offer you a policy that is going to suit your needs and your budget, and most importantly, make sure you’ve got a good rapport with them.
We want you to work with someone you respect and trust.
Confirm the Agent’s Licensing is Valid
Make sure the agent you’re considering is properly licensed. Most state insurance offices have a directory where you can check the status of an agent’s license, and some also allow you to verify whether or not there are any complaints.
When looking up a license status, look for one of the following designations: Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU), Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), or Accredited Adviser in Insurance (AAI). Whew, that’s a lot of acronyms.
If you’re unable to find information on the agent’s license status online, ask to see a copy of their current license when you meet in person. While this may feel a bit awkward, agents should have no problem with presenting their license. If they hem and haw, this may be an indication that they’re not fully on the up and up. Big yellow flag!
Why You Should Use a Local Insurance Agent or Broker
There are many compelling reasons why working with a local agent or broker can provide a better consumer experience for you than buying insurance online or directly from a provider over the phone.
With the above information, we hope you can now make a more informed decision about buying directly from an insurance company or using a local insurance agent or broker.
Understanding the different types of insurance agents, captive agents, independent agents, and insurance brokers, can also provide you with more knowledge and help you to get the best service and insurance policy that suits your needs.
Happy Shopping!*While we make every effort to keep our site updated, please be aware that "timely" information on this page, such as quote estimates, or pertinent details about companies, may only be accurate as of its last edit day. Huntley Wealth & Insurance Services and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.