Shopping for local car insurance can be confusing in more ways than one. When it comes to purchasing coverage, you will be faced with the choice of buying directly from an insurance company or using the help of a captive or independent agent. Continue reading to learn the differences between these options and learn which one might be right for you.
Should You Consider Buying Direct?
An option that is widely advertised nowadays is to buy direct. In other words, purchase car insurance on your own by going online and getting a quote. Though this approach may seem convenient, it can hurt you in more ways than one. When you buy direct, whether online or over the phone, you lose the valuable benefits of an agent. This could mean:
- Purchasing too little insurance coverage to meet your needs
- Not having a local face you can talk to when you have a question
- Having no personal assistance when the time comes to file a claim
- Having to shop around for coverage on your own – a time-consuming process
Choosing a Captive or Independent Agent
Working with an agent is a great choice, as you are no longer on your own, making decisions that could have a significant effect on your future. However, the type of agent you choose makes a difference as well.
There are several identifiable differences between captive and independent agents. These differences are what set them apart from each other and make it easy to choose between them. The first difference between captive and independent agents is the number of insurance companies they represent. A captive agent represents only one company. If that company is unable to meet a client’s needs for coverage, the captive agent has no one else to turn to for an alternative solution. The independent agent, however, can represent any number of car insurance companies, providing a much greater selection for drivers.
Another difference between captive and independent agents is the ability to accommodate high-risk or special needs situations. Captive agents are limited by the underwriting policies of the companies they work for. If a company is especially risk-averse, this can affect the ability of an agent to extend coverage. For drivers who qualify for coverage through a captive agent’s company but experience changes to their risk profile, they may even see their insurance policies dropped altogether with no alternative coverage options. An independent agent always has other insurance companies to fall back on if one is not willing to accommodate a specific client.
In addition, captive agents might be under pressure to push additional insurance products on their customers. Instead of looking out for the best interests of the client, the captive agent may be encouraged to suggest certain types of coverage or other company benefits strictly based on sales rather than necessity. The independent agent doesn’t have a company to answer to and is never under pressure to sell any particular product or service.
The Bottom Line – Shop an Independent, Local Car Insurance Agent and Win
Shopping for car insurance comes down to having individualized service, a wide selection of carriers, and the local convenience of a hometown office. For those reasons, smart drivers in Sheboygan, Mukwonago, and throughout southeastern Wisconsin tend to shop for coverage with independent insurance agents who offer the total package.
To find out how an independent agent can help you get the coverage you need, contact the team here at Heinen Insurance. We look forward to serving you soon.