Did you ever wonder what an independent insurance agent is? Maybe not. 🙂 Insurance is sold in many different ways, but the most recognizable way to purchase insurance is through an insurance agent. But not all insurance agents are the same, there isn’t just one type of insurance agent. In fact, there are many types of insurance agents if you think of the different specialist (eg. life, health or property & casualty). But they are typically divided into two camps, captive and independent insurance agents.
Yep, that’s right. Some agents are captive or exclusive and only sell for one insurance group and the other sells for many different insurance companies … these are called independent insurance agents.
Independent agents have been around since 1896, and there are over 7,000 independents selling for more than 43 different companies across the United States.
An independent, like their captive agent counterparts, are licensed insurance professionals. So in this respect they are completely similar.
The real difference is that the independent has opted to create their insurance agency without a direct affiliation with an insurance company. They trade-off the support an individual insurance company so that they can broaden their product offering by taking contracts with several insurance carriers. This expands the independent’s value proposition to the consumer, but places them at a disadvantage vis-a-vie the captive for brand recognition.
What does this really mean to the consumer? Well, it simply means that the independent offers more options. The challenge is in brand recognition. The companies that support captives tend to invest more money in insurance advertising, so consumers tend to have unaided brand awareness of the insurance before they buy.
So, the answer to what an independent insurance agent is really comes down to the fact that they represents several insurance companies and in many ways they work for the consumer rather than the insurance company.
Of course they are. Some of the oldest and most respected insurance companies work with independent insurance agents. Companies like:
Sure, an independent cannot offer you Allstate, State Farm or Farmers Insurance, because these companies are represented by captive insurance agents. Because the captive agent exchanges support for choice, these insurance companies have to advertise to help the captive agent sell insurance policies. But just because an insurance company advertises regularly, doesn’t make them better companies. They have to advertise because they know their agents are at a comparative disadvantage when it comes to the choice an independent insurance agent can offer.
Now we know the answer to the question, “what is an independent insurance agent?” Effectively, the big difference is that independent agents can offer you choice.
Now, you may be wondering which you should choose, a captive insurance agent vs independent, and which is better.
The honest answer is that neither agent is better and both definitely are are professionals. So, the choice comes down to how you like to buy insurance. In many cases, the captive represents more recognizable brands, so if brand recognition is important and the captive represents a trusted brand, then the choice is made. Another reason to select is trust, if you trust for an agent who is a captive, then your choice is made. But if you want real choice and breadth of products offered, or you’re looking to shop the market to get options, then the better value for you just might be an independent insurance agent.
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IronPoint Insurance Services is an independent insurance agency licensed (#0G87821) with the California Department of Insurance. We are authorized agents for many A+ rated Arizona, California and Utah insurance companies. We provide consumers with online, phone, and in-person insurance services through our insurance company relationships. IronPoint Insurance Services, LLC offers multiple insurance quotes to provide consumers several options for their insurance products. We offer auto insurance through Mercury Insurance Group, Travelers Insurance Companies, The Hartford, MetLife Auto & Home, and Progressive Drive Insurance. We are authorized insurance agents for these companies and do not charge any fees for our services. If an IronPoint insurance agent trys to charge you broker or agency service fees for representing these companies, please contact us immediately.