A growing number of consumers are recognizing the value of independent insurance companies, and independent agents now make a majority of insurance policy sales in some areas. In the life insurance field, for instance, independent agents now make up52% of the market. Independent agents can help their customers comparison-shop, which allows customers to find the best deals. Customers can also benefit from building a long-term relationship with their independent agent, which should lead to better advice and better customer service over time.
What Is the Advantage of an Independent Insurance Company?
Independent insurance companies sell policies from multiple insurance companies. Compared to captive insurance agents, who only work with one insurance company, independent agents offer much more flexibility and cost savings for their customers. Many consumers are taking advantage of these benefits by working with independent agents.
Comparison shopping among different insurance companies is often the best way to get a good deal on coverage. Working with an independent insurance agency means that the customer gets to compare personalized quotes without needing to do the work of contacting each insurer themselves. The insurance agent will have a thorough understanding of what each policy covers and any concerns to watch for, so they can also help make sure the customer is making a fair comparison between quotes.
The independent agent can also negotiate with the insurance company for better rates, especially when the customer is looking for multiple policies. Independent insurance companies should be familiar with all of the insurers they work with, so they’ll know where bundling discounts and other opportunities for savings are available. They’ll also have an idea of which companies tend to offer better coverage for people in certain life stages or financial situations. Finding this information on their own can be difficult or impossible for consumers.
While bundling can work, getting the best insurance deals might mean choosing different policies from different companies. If a customer decides to go with home insurance from one company and auto coverage from another, an independent agency can help with all the logistics involved. This includes analyzing and comparing quotes as well as actually purchasing the different policies.
Why Choose an Independent Insurance Agent?
Consumers’ needs change throughout their lifetimes, so committing to a single insurance company isn’t always a good financial choice. While customers are always free to switch insurers, if they work with captive agents, choosing a new insurance company will mean building a relationship with a new insurance agent. Working with an independent agent allows consumers to switch companies while maintaining a potentially lifelong relationship with their insurance agent.
While a good insurance agent should be able to offer good advice from day one, a long-term relationship lets the agent get to know the customer and make better and better recommendations over time. Factors like risk tolerance, lifestyle, family situation, and financial plans can all affect the insurance coverage a person needs. An ongoing relationship with an independent agent gives the agent time to discuss the customer’s long-term goals and in-depth concerns so they can make solid suggestions for the best policies.
Is It Better to Go With a Local Insurance Company?
A local independent insurance agency can offer additional benefits for customers over a larger national company. First, local independent insurance agencies are usually smaller businesses, which makes building a relationship with an insurance agent much easier. Because of the smaller setting, agents can offer more personalized service. This can include keeping an eye out for better coverage or rates, even after the customer has chosen a policy. If the market shifts and better prices become available, a local agent is more likely to have both the time and the focus on the customer’s needs to proactively recommend that the customer update their policies. Customers are less likely to receive this level of service at a larger company.
Local insurance agents are also more familiar with their state and local regulations and insurance markets. Some insurance requirements are fairly consistent nationwide, but others vary by state. For example, each state has its own requirements for how much and what types of auto insurance drivers need to carry. A local company’s agents will have a deeper understanding of their state’s rules and the policies available that comply with those rules. Local agents will also be more familiar with location-specific risks, which can help them provide better advice to customers. As an example, different areas are more or less prone to storm damage, which can affect the best home insurance options for customers in the area.
What Are the Criteria for Choosing an Insurance Company?
Finding the right locally-based independent insurance company can be a challenge. When looking for an agent, consumers should start by making sure the agent has the required licensing. They can also look for additional credentials and certifications in specific insurance areas, like the Charted Life Underwriter certification for life insurance agents. These credentials demonstrate in-depth knowledge in the agent’s field and a commitment to continuing education, which means the agent is more likely to be up-to-date on the latest developments in the insurance field.
Communication and customer service are also essential. Customers should look for an agent who takes the time to understand their family and financial situation so they can give relevant advice. A great example of an Independent Insurance Company that consumers in Colorado and Utah are turning to is ALINK Insurance. Testimonials and other customer feedback are a great way to find out if an insurance company offers the right level of service and expertise, however, customers should also take note of the attention the agent pays them during their initial conversations as well, that personal attention is often a very good sign of how the agency values customer service.