There are many ways to purchase your personal and business insurance. One way is to go online and try to figure out what kind of insurance you need, then hope you made the right choice. Secondly, you can use a captive agent who only has the ability to use one insurer. Lastly, you can go to an independent agent like us and let us search the market for the best possible combination of coverage, price, and service.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each of these insurance buying options. We hope that after you read this, you will be able to make an informed decision regarding your personal and business insurance.
It is important to understand that not all insurance policies or agents are the same. Personal insurance and business insurance can be design to fit your individual needs. All insurance policies have exclusions, and these can affect your claims. Insurance agents have different skill sets and offer different kinds of services. Keep these things in mind as you read through this article.
The Pros And Cons Of Online Insurance
Online insurance is a process where you secure your personal insurance through an insurer’s website without the help of anyone. You must navigate through the information and try to make the decision as to what kind of insurance you need.
Advantages of Online Insurance Buying
- Personal insurance can be purchased on your own time.
- Transactions are all automated.
- Your policy can be stored online.
- It may or may not take less time.
- Offers competitive premiums
Disadvantages of Online Insurance Buying
- If you have questions, you may not connect with anyone who understands insurance.
- You must become your own insurance expert.
- If you make a mistake, there is no one to look to for help or support.
- There is no help in filing a claim.
- Some types of insurance may not be available online.
- You must be able to understand and navigate through the application process.
- If you need custom coverage (like coverage for vintage autos, for example), an online program may not apply.
- You are not doing business with a local company. In many cases, the staff is located in foreign countries.
The Pros And Cons Of A Captive Agent
A captive agent is one who is employed by an insurance company. These kinds of agents represent companies like State Farm, All-State, and Farmers. A captive agent is an insurance agent who only works for one insurance company. The insurance company pays a captive agent, and he or she may be a full-time employee or an independent contractor.
Advantages of a Captive Insurance Agent
- There are many locations around the country.
- Their personal insurance or business insurance rates may be competitive.
- Most of their staff are licensed.
- They may have a good understanding of personal and business insurance.
- They are usually locally owned and support the community.
- They can help you if you have a coverage question or claim issue.
Disadvantages of a Captive Insurance Agent
- They can only offer one product option.
- They are paid by the insurer, so there may be a question as to where their loyalties lie.
- They have limited access to unique kinds of insurance products.
- Their company may require them to push certain types of insurance products.
The Pros And Cons Of An Independent Agent
An independent agent is someone who owns or operates a small local business. They have relationships with many different insurance companies but do not work for them. This allows the independent agent to work for the policyholder. Independent agents live and work in the community and support many local charities and causes.
Advantages of an Independent Insurance Agent
- They have licensed and experienced staff.
- Independent agents have access to many markets allowing them to deliver more options. They have dozens of markets from which to select, and will search them all to bring you the best possible combination of price, coverage, and service. More options mean lower premiums for you.
- Independent agents offer unbiased advice.
- These agents are your one stop shop; they offer a complete line of insurance products.
- Their staff is qualified and trained to explain coverage in simple terms.
- They can review coverage and make necessary changes based on your needs.
- Coverage can be designed to meet your individual needs.
- Independent agents will help you through the claims process.
- They are involved in your community and support local causes—kind of like farm to table for insurance.
- Your local agent has local knowledge. This is important when it comes to an understanding of special exposures like flood, wind, earthquake and other kinds of personal and business insurance.
- They offer peace of mind knowing that when you save money on your insurance, it won’t come at the expense of comprehensive coverage.
- Many now offer online policy management and payment options.
Disadvantages of an independent insurance agent
- Premiums are set by the insurance companies, not the agent. However, this is true with all insurance.
- They usually have regular office hours, which means you can’t make a buying decision after hours.
- Agents are paid on commissions which are included in the premium. Again, this is true with all insurance.
As an independent insurance agency, we are very knowledgeable about the companies in the marketplace. We know which companies have the best record of accomplishment when it comes to pleasing their policyholders. We can narrow your options down and help you choose between the best insurance companies in the market.