Finding the right car insurance policy can be tough. You’ve got so many options. Do you have the time to call the dozens of auto insurance companies out there to find the best auto insurance for you?
Probably not. So how can you find the best car insurance agents in your area? We’ve found a way to help you do that. With the right knowledge, you can quickly find the proper coverage for your needs–and at the lowest price.
Let’s start by talking about the different and best types of insurance professionals you can work with.
Table of Contents
- How to Find the Best Car Insurance Agents Near You
- Should You Choose a Captive Agent, Independent Agent or Broker?
- How to Find an Insurance Agent or Broker Near You or Online
How to Find the Best Car Insurance Agents Near You
You might not know that there are several types of professionals that are licensed to sell car insurance. What is the difference between the various insurance professionals?
And how can each one help you find the best insurance policy for your needs? Knowing the difference between the types of insurance professionals is important in your search for the best car insurance policy.
These types of professionals are the best insurance agents for finding the right car insurance policy with the right company.
1. Captive Insurance Agents
Captive insurance agents work for a single insurance company. They’re the guys and gals you’ll often see advertised with specific company names.
This is because captive agents can only sell insurance policies for one specific company–the one they work for. Captive agents get paid by the one insurance company they represent.
They typically earn a salary, a salary plus commissions on sales or straight commission. Captive agents are trained by the company they work for to be experts on the insurance policies that the company holds.
A well-trained captive insurance agent can tell you everything about all of the different types of policies their company offers. People often choose to be captive insurance agents because they get more support when working for a specific company.
Training, supplies and administrative support are often supplied to captive insurance agents. Also, they get the benefit of company-wide advertising support.
2. Independent Insurance Agents
An independent insurance agent works for multiple insurance companies at the same time. They get paid by a commission by each insurance company when they sell a policy for that company to a customer.
An independent insurance agent may not have as much knowledge about individual companies as captive agents for those companies do. However, they typically know most everything about the policies for the list of companies they work for.
People often buy insurance policies through independent insurance agents because they can get prices and features of several different insurance company policies at the same time.
One thing to be aware of when shopping for insurance through an independent insurance agent is that the companies the agent works for often pay different commission percentages.
This could impact you as the buyer if the agent pushes you to purchase policies through insurance companies that pay him a higher commission as opposed to a lower commission.
3. Insurance Brokers
Insurance brokers don’t work for any insurance company. Instead, they work for you as a consumer. Insurance brokers have an obligation to be objective as they share information regarding the various insurance policies available to you.
They typically know a bit about most or all of the insurance companies available to you. They can share the types and prices of each policy offered by the various insurance companies serving your area.
Insurance brokers sometimes charge a fee to consumers, but not always. And sometimes it’s worth it to pay that fee to get an unbiased opinion on which insurance company is right for you.
Should You Choose a Captive Agent, Independent Agent or Broker?
Let’s say you know a bit about each of the types of insurance professionals available to you. Which one should you use when shopping for car insurance?
The answer to that question depends on a few different factors, including your personal preference. Here are some things to consider as you shop for homeowners insurance either locally or online.
Independent Agents and Brokers Offer More Options
You’ll get a bigger picture of the companies and prices available to you if you talk with an independent insurance broker. Note that an independent insurance agent gets paid by the insurance companies. So they may try to sway you in the way of the company that pays them the largest commission percentage.
However, brokers typically get paid by clients. As a result, they have more incentive to find you the right deal with the right company. There is no reason for them to push you in the direction of a particular company based on the pay they’ll receive from that company.
It’s not that all independent agents are dishonest. After all, they do have a fiduciary duty to work with integrity. But if you want to minimize the chance of an insurance salesperson guiding you toward the policy that’s best for them instead of for you, a broker is the way to go.
Choosing a Local Broker or Agent
There are sources out there that say it may be best to choose a local broker or agent as opposed to an online broker or agent. And in some ways, it makes sense to shop through a local broker or agent. Here’s why.
Local Insurance Professionals Have a Better Understanding of Your Area’s Risk
Since local insurance professionals work in your area, they have a better understanding of the driving risks in your area. They know what types of claims are most common in your area.
This knowledge can be helpful as you work to choose the best type of coverage for your auto insurance policy.
Local Agents, Local Office
You might find it more comforting to know that your insurance agent has a local office you can visit. The ability to stop anytime at a local office might make filing claims and dealing with issues more reassuring.
Or you might find an agent or broker who you know or who has connections to people you know. These relationships may give you some peace of mind when considering advice from that person.
We are becoming an online world more and more each day. However, there is still something heartening about having the personal touch of a service professional that is housed close to you.
Choosing an Online Agent
One great thing about shopping online for auto insurance is that you may have a larger list of options. In this online world, you likely have access to quick information from dozens of insurance companies.
You might not get the local touch, but you can still find good service online. I had a local agent for years until I started comparison shopping for the best auto insurance companies five years ago. I ended up switching to GEICO and haven’t looked back.
I even had a serious claim a year after we started using GEICO. They were amazing. They had a specific representative handle the claim. He kept in contact with me regularly and handled my claim with total compassion.
He regularly asked how we were doing and if there was anything the GEICO team could do for us. I couldn’t be happier with our online auto insurance choice. However, it’s not for everyone.
Some people just prefer working with a local agent. And if that’s you, I’d recommend shopping through a local broker to find the best deal in your city.
Here are some tips for finding the right agent or broker for your auto insurance needs.
How to Find an Insurance Agent or Broker Near You or Online
Whether you want to find an insurance professional online or near your home, we’ve got some tips for helping you choose an agent you like.
Ask for Recommendations
Asking trusted family members and friends how they found the right car insurance policy can be a great idea. Who better to share their insurance experiences with you than someone you know and trust?
Even if you don’t want to take advice from everyone in your circle, hopefully there are at least a couple of people in your life you look up to. You could ask:
- Parents or siblings
- Trusted coworkers
- People you know from networking groups, church or other social activities
Make a short list of people around you who make smart money and other decisions, and ask who they’d recommend for finding a car insurance policy.
Check with Your Employer
If you work for a larger company, you may want to get an insurance broker or agent recommendation from your company’s human resources department. Sometimes agents and brokers will offer additional discounts when they partner with larger companies.
However, remember that cost isn’t the only factor in choosing the right car insurance policy. Even if your employer does work with a particular agent, broker or company, it’s still wise to shop around a bit.
Check with Your Warehouse Club
Are you a member of a warehouse club such as Costco, Sam’s Club or BJ’s? If so, you may want to ask them for an insurance broker or company recommendation. Warehouse clubs often secure discounts for members on a large variety of services.
Again, your warehouse club’s recommendation shouldn’t be your only consideration. However, it won’t hurt to check in and see if they’ve got money-saving options for you.
Search Online Reviews
Lastly, it doesn’t hurt to search online reviews as you shop for car insurance. Sometimes the most honest opinions you’ll get are those from anonymous people who aren’t afraid to share their experiences.
Now, considering online reviews can backfire too. Some people write reviews because they’ve got a bone to pick. Others are simply cranky. And some online reviewers are paid to write a positive review for a company or product.
As you scour through online reviews for insurance professionals, be sure to look for unbiased reviews. For instance, blog post reviews are required to admit if a company pays them for a review.
The review post might say something like: “We were compensated for this article.” Or, “We were compensated for this article, but all opinions are our own.”
The goal when searching online reviews is to look for people or blog sites that have little or nothing to gain by sharing their opinion.
Be Sure to Interview at Least a Few Brokers or Agents
One piece of advice that everyone should consider taking is to be sure to talk with at least a few insurance brokers or agents. By talking with two or three different insurance professionals, you’ll get a better idea of what type of insurance expert is best for your needs.
In general, I prefer a broker simply because the chances of him or her leaning me toward a specific company are slimmer. However, whether you prefer to use a broker or agent, you may want to interview two or three before choosing the one you’ll use.
Ask the insurance brokers or agents how long they’ve been in the insurance business and what their experience is. See if you connect with them from a personality standpoint. Tell them what you’re looking for and try to determine if they understand your insurance needs. Then decide which interviewee best meets your qualifications.
Having the right auto insurance agent and the right car insurance policy is important. Not only is shopping around for car insurance one of many simple ways to save money, but it’s a way to ensure you have the right insurance policy.
Insurance is one of those things that seems like a casual choice–until you have to use it. That’s when the details truly matter. For that reason, it’s essential to do the hard work up front.
Shop around and locate the right insurance broker or agent. Then work with that person to find the right policy for all of your family’s car insurance needs.
What is your method for choosing a car insurance professional? Do you work with a local agent or online company? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.