There are many times in your life when you'll need to purchase insurance. Some of those times are fairly straightforward, and you can easily compare plans on your own and make an informed decision. However, there are also times when choosing the right plan, or even finding out what types of plans are available are not so clear-cut. For example, when you're buying insurance for your small business, when you're buying house insurance, or when you're buying life insurance, you are making some very important decisions about a very complex topic.
When you are shopping for insurance that could impact your life in such a serious way, it's a good idea to find an insurance agent to help you decide on a policy that's right for you. There are three basic types of insurance professionals who can be of assistance:
Independent Insurance Agent
An independent insurance agent is an agent that is not in the employ of a single insurance company. Typically, the agent will work with a select number of companies, helping clients to choose policies from one of them. This can be helpful because different insurance company policies may have different strengths and weaknesses, with which the agent is familiar. An independent agent is a good option if you're not sure which company you want to go to, but you know that the price ranges and coverages they offer will be comparable to one another. In essence, you just need the agent to make sure you're getting the best deal.
Captive Insurance Agent
A captive insurance agent is one which works only for one specific company. Obviously, this type of agent is the right choice when you already know you want a policy from that insurance company. These agents will help you to compare different policies to determine which coverage and price point are right for you. They'll just be policies from the same company, that's all. Sometimes clients already hold one type of insurance with a particular company, and prefer to buy new policies from the same company.
Insurance brokers aren't agents in that they do not directly sell policies. Working with insurance brokers is typically reserved for the most complex insurance needs. Insurance brokers contact agents from many different insurance companies to determine what policies are available, how much they cost, and what type of coverage you can hope to receive. An insurance broker may even negotiate with insurance agents to bring the price down.
Another reason you may wish to use an insurance broker is if you want a highly customized insurance policy. If you're looking for an insurance agency that has policies which can be tailored to your exact needs, an insurance broker could be a helpful resource. However, more and more insurance agencies are recognizing that there is a large demand for personalized policies. As a result, you may find an agency which offers such policies relatively easily, wherever you are.