Independent…Captive…Direct Writer? What’s the difference?
There are three ways to purchase insurance in the industry: independent agents, captive agents and direct writers. Captive means the agent can only write policies with one company, and are restricted if the rates increase and the customer wants to shop around, or if they can’t meet the customers’ needs with other various products. Independent means that the agent has many different contracts in place with different insurance companies so they are able to shop around and have the freedom to offer different products with different companies to the customer for the best overall fit. Direct Writers work out of a customer service office directly for the company and are who you speak to when you call the company’s 800 number direct.
Independent agents have been around since 1896! Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America or the Big “I” is the association that helps build the structure of independent agencies. More than 7100 independent agencies are selling on behalf of 43 different insurance carriers across the U.S.
Independent agents represent multiple insurance companies. They serve as your trusted advisor, sifting through the vast amounts of products from leading insurance companies. They’ll have a conversation with you to understand your needs before recommending the best coverage or package for your unique situation.
What value can an Independent Agent offer you?
- Independent agents are a one-stop-shop for all of your insurance needs. One stop = Convenience! Independent agents don’t just sell auto and homeowners insurance. In our agency, we offer a multitude of product categories including:
- Recreational Vehicles
- Long Term Care/Disability
- Critical Illness/Cancer/Accident policies
- Annuities/ IRA’s
- Special Event Coverage
- Legal Shield/Identity Theft
- Agents have at their disposal the ability to shop the market of many insurance companies at one time. Because rates vary widely and are constantly changing, it is very likely and independent agent can help find a better deal than you could find yourself in a much quicker period of time. If you are already being serviced by an independent agent and are in the market to look for a different company based on rates or an unpleasant experience with a particular company, your agent can help you find a solution, and they can remain your trusted advocate.
- Insurance is a complicated subject. Not only do Independent Agents understand the nature of the insurance industry, but they are writing for many companies which means that they are versed with understanding numerous underwriting regulations that each company has in place. This is helpful when they are carefully considering where to place your policies to ensure the insurance company is the best fit for your particular situation.
- Independent agents provide personalized customer service. Personalized customer service is high priority in independent agencies. Since an independent agent works for you, they are your advocate to assist you with your policy from start to finish. Instead of calling an 800 number and getting a different representative each time, you have a trusted agent that knows you by name to help answer questions, file claims, advise you on the pros and cons of filing certain claims and determine if your insurance needs need to be re-evaluated as life events change.
- Independent agents offer a protection layer. Some of the insurance companies that independent agents sell through also allow consumers to purchase directly from them as well. Don’t get us wrong-there is nothing wrong with direct writer insurance companies. However, many of the representatives working in the customer service depts. are not actual licensed agents and simply cannot provide some of the services or advice necessary that customers need. When you are being serviced by an agent, you have a regulated, licensed and insured agent acting on your behalf and creating a safety net to ensure you have proper coverage’s in place, and more importantly, taking the TIME to explain what those coverage’s mean.
If you are looking for an Independent agent in MN or WI, contact us HERE to get the process started for a quote.