Independent insurance agents

ar insurance is sold through three different means independent agents, captive agents, and direct through the internet. An independent agent is an agent with options. Independent agents have more to offer than other agents making them a strong competitor in the insurance industry. Learn what independent agents are and how they can help you get a great rate on insurance.

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.

An independent agent has a secret weapon.
Quick quotes from multiple insurance carriers are one of the major benefits of independent agents. If you are shopping for insurance, independent agents are a great place to start because they can check several different companies’ rates all at once. The more companies checked equals a greater chance of finding the best rate for you and your family. The time-saving factor is huge because you only have to provide your information one time.

The ability to retain the same agent even if you switch carriers is another perk of having your insurance with an independent agent. A strong relationship can be built with your independent agent and if your rates start to creep up, your agent can possibly find you lower rates without ever switching agents. Many people put up with higher rates because they are not comfortable leaving their trusted agent. Independent agents give their clients more options.

An independent agent works for you, not the insurance company.
An independent agent is not an employee of an insurance company. Technically, an independent agent’s boss is you, the client. Independent agents broker insurance companies and get paid commission; however, they do not receive a salary as an employee. Working with an agent that is not solely employed by one carrier is nice because you can get unbiased advice.

A good independent agent can be proactive when it comes to your insurance rate. They are able to get a head start when it comes to rate changes. For instance, if an agent knows one of its companies’ rates is increasing, they can start looking for a better deal before the increase takes place. Captive agents are helpless and have to roll with the punches of the carrier they represent.

Independent agents provide personalized customer service.
Since an independent agent works for you, often times they will file your claim with the parent company. Personalized customer service is a high priority for independent agencies. Having an agent makes it so you don’t have to deal with the automated 800 numbers quite as often. Plus, an agent can give you advice before filing a claim.

Independent agents have the ability to be a great time and money savers for their clients. However, just because an agent is independent doesn’t mean they are the best. You still need to look for good agent qualities, such as availability, knowledgeable, and proactive.

Insurance Carriers Selling Products through an Independent Agent
The list is a good portion of independent insurance carriers. Find a thorough list of carriers at Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. If you are looking for an independent agent, look for the Trusted Choice brand which is owned by Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America.

Allied Property and Casualty
American Strategic
Auto Owners
Chubb Group of Insurance Companies
Cincinnati Insurance Company
Citizens
Colorado Casualty
EMC Insurance Companies
Frankenmuth
General Casualty
Grange
The Hanover Insurance Group
Harleysville Insurance
The Hartford
Imperial
Integrity
Ohio Casualty
Peerless Insurance
Penn National Insurance
Progressive
Safeco
Travelers
The Republic Group
West Bend Mutual
Westfield Insurance
Zurich North America
Independent insurance agents, also known as insurance sales agents or «producers», typically sell a variety of insurance and financial products, including property insurance and casualty insurance, life insurance, health insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care insurance.

Property and casualty insurance agents sell insurance policies that protect individuals and businesses from financial loss resulting from automobile accidents, fire, theft, storms, and other events that can damage property. For businesses, property and casualty insurance can also cover injured Workers Compensation Insurance, product liability claims, or medical malpractice claims.

Independent insurance agents typically represent a number of insurance companies, or «carriers», and sell the products that most appropriately meet the needs of their clients. Independent agents typically are very well trained and knowledgeable of the complexities of the insurance market and insurance law.[1] Their expertise allows them to advise their clients about appropriate amounts of insurance and insurance coverages for their particular needs. Often, independent insurance agents will work with insurance intermediaries, who obtain quotes from multiple insurance providers and pass them off to the independent agent. Working with an insurance intermediary service allows the independent agent to review many quotes and offer their clients the best policy options available. For their efforts, independent agents are paid a commission (remuneration).[2]

In addition to insurance policies, agents often sell mutual funds, annuities, and products that address wealth management, retirement and estate planning. Independent agents must be licensed by the states in which they sell insurance and financial products.[2]

There are a number of major trade organizations that support the interests and needs of the independent insurance agent, including Agents For Change,[3] The National Organization of Life and Health Agents (NOLHA),[4] the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (The Big «I»),[5] and the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents (PIA).[6]

Independent agents are independent contractors for the insurance companies they represent. Several companies may authorize the agent to sell for them, but the agent remains an independent businessperson. While the agent collects commissions, they do not collect a salary from the companies they represent. On average, independent agents work with thirteen property and casualty and six life and health insurance companies on a regular basis.[7]

Independent agents own and control their accounts, policy records, and renewals. If an independent agent’s contract with a particular insurance company terminates, the agent retains the rights to active accounts and may place them with another insurer.

Competition exists between exclusive agents and independent agents. Exclusive agents, who are salaried employees of the insurance company, write a majority of the personal lines business.[8] However, because of the complexities involved in commercial risks, independent agents capture approximately 80 percent of the commercial lines market.[9] It is having access to multiple markets that gives independent agents a competitive advantage in commercial lines.

To add to an independent agent’s competition pool, many insurance companies are direct competitors to the agents they appoint. For example, Progressive Insurance spends nearly $300 million a year in advertising directly to the public. Yet, Progressive is the country’s largest writer of private passenger auto insurance through the independent agent distribution channel.[10]