Local insurance agents

Insurance can be a complicated purchase. You’re not buying bread or milk. You’re buying a promise of protection that could potentially make or break your financial well-being. How do you know that you’re making the right choices about coverage? Are you sure you’re getting the best possible value for your dollar? The options can seem bewildering.

Mutual Benefit has sold its coverage exclusively through independent agents for over 100 years. We’ve seen first-hand how the advice and advocacy of agents benefit our policyholders. Here are seven reasons why we believe the independent agency experience benefits you:

They give you a choice – Independent agents represent many different insurance companies that offer a wide variety of coverage options and price points. Most on average sell for five to eight different insurance companies. There’s no need for you to accept one quote from one company, and there’s no need for you to spend time filling out many different online applications to get your own quote comparisons. With their connections and their knowledge of the market, agents can often find a better value for your insurance dollar than you might find searching on your own. Agents do the shopping. You do the saving. They find you the right blend of price, coverage, and service.
They are licensed experts – Independents can explain the complexities of insurance in simple terms, helping you make smart decisions. They make a career out of assessing their customers’ insurance needs and matching them with the insurance carrier best equipped to meet those needs at a price the customer can afford. Think about it. While you might research wording for wills on the Internet, you’ll likely go to an attorney to ensure that the document is drawn up correctly. Why wouldn’t you seek the advice of a licensed insurance professional to be certain that your home, your auto, or your business is properly protected?
They are personal advisers – Agents not only find you competitive pricing, they make sure you are adequately covered. Working with you face-to-face, your agent becomes your personal adviser, taking the time to listen to you and understand your individual needs. They know it’s not just about finding a price you can afford; it’s also about making certain you are appropriately covered so that you don’t end up insurance-poor if you do suffer a loss.
They are your advocate – If you have a billing or claim concern, or need to change your coverage, your agent can be your advocate, working with the insurance company on your behalf.
They are right around the corner – Independent agents are your neighbors…they share your interest in the community where you live, and understand the benefits and challenges of living in your locale. They are often highly involved in the community, sponsoring youth sports teams, buying from your local businesses, supporting school organizations, and voicing opinions at the monthly Chamber of Commerce meeting. They are right around the corner, ready to help.
They offer one-stop shopping – Independent agents can often meet all of your insurance needs with the companies they represent, providing auto, home, renter’s, and business coverage. Many offer life and health insurance as well.
They are consultants for a lifetime – Independent agents periodically review your coverage. They are there to help you through all the changes in your life, whether you’re going from renting an apartment to buying a home, starting a business, getting married, renovating your home, adding a teen driver to your auto policy, or looking to cover that retirement condo.
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]