When it comes time to purchase home and auto insurance, you have a lot of choices. One of the most important decisions you’ll make is deciding how to buy insurance.
These days, there are several ways you can purchase an insurance policy:
- Through an insurance website
- Through a captive insurance agent
- Through an independent insurance agent
Buying through a website may seem like the quickest and easiest approach, especially if you have a DIY attitude and handle a lot of your personal finances and shopping online. Keep in mind, however, that insurance is complicated, especially once you get into things like exclusions and coverage types.
Personal auto insurance, for example, can include liability coverage as well as uninsured motorist coverage, comprehensive coverage and other optional but important coverage types. Some policies may exclude certain types of damages or drivers. If you use your car for business purposes – say, you moonlight as an Uber driver – insurance is even more complicated. An experienced agent can ask questions you might never have thought of, ensuring that you’re fully protected.
But not all agents work in the same way. There’s a big difference between captive agents and independent agents.
Captive Versus Independent Agents
Captive agents work for an insurance company, and they only sell insurance products from that one company. If you’re absolutely positive you know which insurance agency you want to use, a captive agent can get you a policy, but if you want to explore your options, an independent agent may be a better choice.
Independent agents have connections with multiple insurance companies. When you deal with an independent agent, the agent gets multiple quotes and finds the policy that best suits your needs and budget.
Why This Matters
Imagine you need insurance, so you make an appointment with a captive agent at Example Insurance Company (EIC). Unfortunately, while EIC has some great products, it doesn’t have the best policy for your needs. Despite this, the agent can only represent EIC policies, so she tries to sell you one.
If you had gone to an independent agent, she would have seen that EIC wasn’t the best fit for you, and she would have suggested another policy instead.
A similar situation can arise when your needs change. Whether it’s because you’ve remodeled your house or because your child is now a teen driver, eventually, you’ll want to update your insurance policies. If you’re with a captive agent, that agent will try to keep your business, even if the company is no longer an ideal match. An independent agent will help you find the best policy, even if it’s with a different insurer.
In a nutshell, an agent can provide the expertise you need, and an independent agent can provide the freedom you need – all so you can get the best coverage.
Higginbotham agents are independent, representing a wide range of carriers. Learn more about our personal insurance services.