What Are the Different Types of Insurance Agents?

You have a few choices when it comes to picking an insurance agent. The different types of insurance agents each serve a specific purpose.

Rachel P.

Published November 29, 2020.

There’s more to choosing your insurance policy than making sure you have the right types and amounts of coverage. Like most people, you want a great rate on your insurance. You also want – and deserve – good service from an agent who can help you get the coverage you need from a trustworthy company.

Key Takeaways

Online agents, or local representatives?

You can purchase insurance online or with an agent.

If you buy insurance from an online company, you probably won’t have one-on-one contacts with the same agent each time you have questions or need help. This is especially true when you need to file a claim: you will probably interact with the next available agent every time you call in to submit details or inquire about the status of your claim.

When you choose to work with a local insurance agent, you’ll have the benefit of forming a relationship with someone who understands your needs and priorities, but also your state’s rules about the types and amounts of insurance you need. They’ll ask you questions about your situation to help you figure out how much coverage and which types of policies may benefit you most in the long run.

Independent and captive insurance agents

There are two types of insurance agents:

Independent Insurance Agent

Independent insurance agents are usually employed by an insurance agency, but may also be self-employed professionals. They sell policies from several insurers. When you consult an independent agent, they’ll match you with the insurance company most likely to offer the best rate with the coverage you need

Captive Insurance Agent

A captive agent represents a single insurance company. They can quote you rates from that company, only. If you’ve decided you want insurance from a specific national insurer and you aren’t terribly concerned with the rates, calling a captive agent working for that company is the right move.

No matter which type of agent you use to purchase your insurance, double-check to make sure you have the minimum required amounts of coverage. If you decide to use an online company, make sure they use your personal information wisely.

Insurance licensing

Your insurance agent should be licensed in your state to sell the type of insurance you need. Each state sets its own requirements for getting an insurance license. In most places, the insurance agent has to pass an exam and a background check before they can legally sell insurance in that state.

You can find out if your insurance agent is licensed by looking them up on the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) website. Agents that work for online companies and are part of a call center where they issue policies and answer questions require the same type of license as an agent that works in a local office.

Choosing an insurance agent can be difficult, but understanding your options will help you get the right coverage from a trustworthy company.