Captive Agency vs. Independent Agency; What should you choose – and why?
It’s common knowledge that there are a ton of options when it comes to finding the right insurance agent. Go with the funny promos or catchy jingles (my 5-year-old twins walk around the house singing, “Liberty! Liberty! Liberty!”) or the newly franchised State Farm office that just popped-up next to your favorite diner, or the agency your parents and grand-parents have been with for as long as you can remember… you’ve got a lot of options.
To help narrow the scope, you should first tackle what type of agency you would like to work with; a captive agency or an independent agency. “Captive” agencies work with one insurance carrier. You’ve likely heard of the insurance companies these captive agents represent – State Farm, Allstate, Farmers, etc. Differently, an “independent” agency writes for any number of carriers. Instead of only writing for one company, these agencies can quote and provide coverage from multiple places.
So – how do you pick? We certainly do not want to make this the only concern when picking an agency – remember, coverage is the most important, but cost is also important; after all, we want to be able to afford our coverage and feel protected at the same time. So, what’s more cost effective? According to a Trusted Choice article regarding this very topic, “Most of the time, you will find that the independent insurance agent is the least expensive of the two, and the most equipped. Over 60% of consumers go back to an independent agent after leaving them for a different agent type.”
What else do we know? Independent agents are normally local to the community, a small business owner/entrepreneur. They can write for several carriers, thus being able to provide coverage and price for what you are looking for. Captive agents work for large, sometimes global, corporations. Although they are confined to writing for one carrier only, they have large marketing budgets with lots of promotions and offerings specific to their typical clientele.
When you’ve decided what type of agency you would like to work with Trusted Choice suggests asking four questions when interviewing your next insurance agency (and we will answer these questions in our next blogpost so this portion of the interview will be done by the time you call):
1. How long have you been in business? Experience is important – especially in insurance. The more you know, the more you know, ya know?
2. How does your agency handle a claim? You may get a similar response between Captive and Independent agents on this one – still worth asking – plus, keep ‘em on their toes!
3. How many different insurance carriers are you quoting? To get the best rates and the coverage designed for you, options make a difference. If you are only getting quotes from one carrier, you likely get standard coverage at a standard rate.
4. What’s your response time? We’ve all had the nightmares (okay, maybe not nightmares, but you get the idea) over an agent who doesn’t answer. How will your agent respond when you need them? This is customer service – and its vital.
Now, for the plug: Shaw Insurance Agency is an independent insurance agency… and if this totally unbiased (wink wink) blogpost spurred on some spark of insurance shopping, call us for our interview! Truly, we’d love to work with you, quote your coverage with multiple carriers and protect what’s most valuable to you.
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