Why Should I Use an Independent Insurance Agent?

by Alex Chesko

Itrusted choice tagline logo 165x165n today’s marketplace most major insurance companies are spending millions of dollars advertising how they can help you “Save 15% or more in just 15 minutes!” At first glance it seems like a great idea – getting insurance coverage on the cheap by cutting out the middleman. But before you entrust your future to some faceless call center representative at a huge corporation it’s a good idea to make sure you know exactly what you might be giving up.

In the interest of full disclosure I must confess I am one of those self-professed “middlemen.” As independent agents we work for you – our customers. Our job is to help you identify exactly what your insurance needs are and provide you with a variety of options which meet those needs. We serve as educators, trusted advisors, and advocates who fight to make sure you don’t get left high and dry by an insurance company. We compete directly against the large direct carriers you see on TV and captive agents (agents who write exclusively for one insurance company). We live and work in the same community, send our children to the same schools, and drive to work in the same often bad weather.

Any good independent agent realizes that the greatest thing they can provide to a client is service – outstanding service that the big guys can’t match. Personal service that comes from developing a relationship with our clients and the communities we serve over the years. Our success is wholly based on being able to put our knowledge and experience to work for our clients. Our mission is to protect you and the things that are most important to you from potential losses, and to help make you whole again after a loss.

But it’s more expensive to get insurance from a local agent – right?

Wrong! We work with a number of insurance companies – some big, some small, and they can compete with (and often crush) the big guys. How? They aren’t spending millions of dollars on advertising every year (guess who pays for those little green lizard ads?). By using a business model based on local independent agents instead of operating giant call centers. Often these smaller, more nimble carriers provide better overall service and can offer a number of discounts some of the major carriers don’t have.

I understand my policy well enough – I don’t need someone to explain everything to me.

Most people understand the basics, but the devil is in the details. If you’ve ever read the long-form version of your policy you probably know what I mean. Even after 15 years in the industry and having read dozens of different policies from cover to agonizingly boring cover I’m still learning that no two policies are alike. It’s also possible that you may be one of the few lucky souls who go their entire life without experiencing an accident or a major claim event. Most people aren’t so lucky. And when you have a major claim, or your policy rate increases dramatically (or worse – is cancelled outright) who would you turn to? A good independent agent has years – often decades of experience dealing with the intricacies of insurance policies and can guide you through the potential pitfalls of claims and coverage gaps. We’ll also review your coverages periodically to ensure that as your needs change your coverage adapts accordingly.

So, for those of you who are still on the fence let’s re-cap:

Benefits of an independent insurance agent:

  • We work for you – not the insurance company. Our livelihood depends on forging long-lasting relationships with the people in our community. We are your agent, your advisor, and your advocate.
  • We can help you with a claim. We can not only help you report a claim to the company – we monitor your claim to make sure things are being handled efficiently and fairly. We can answer your “what if” questions before, during, and after a claim.
  • We’re local. You’re working with a local business, where you can come into an office and sit down with a real person whose sole purpose is to help you. No call center reps.
  • We work with a large number of companies, so we can offer you a range of OPTIONS that are both competitively priced and tailored to your specific needs. If a particular company raises their rates, or cancels your policy we can find replacement coverage for you quickly.
  • Independent agents are the ultimate one-stop shops. Whatever you might need to insure – chances are we can get it covered for you.
  • We’ll do the comparison shopping for you – saving you TIME and in most cases finding you a better price than you can find yourself. Think of us as your personal shopper.
  • Insurance can be incredibly complicated. We’ve spent years learning it and dealing with it on a daily basis. It’s our job to understand it and to communicate it to you so that you understand it too. We’ll answer your questions and offer objective advice whenever you need it.
  • We give you leverage. We do a lot of business with the companies we work with and we’ve built up strong relationships with them over the years. That gives us considerably more pull with the company than someone who only has a single policy with a large corporation.

Benefits of a direct carrier:

  • Better/funnier commercials.
  • Call centers. You can talk to a “representative” around the clock.
  • You MIGHT be able to save 15% in just 15 minutes.
  • Anonymity of being just another policy number to a huge corporation.
  • Don’t have to listen to that pesky agent trying to explain coverages

Admittedly, I may be somewhat biased here. There will always be a place in the market for the big name direct insurance carriers. They can certainly provide you with good insurance products. But there are so many more services that a skilled independent agent can provide. I think you’ll find that the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have a highly skilled, dedicated insurance professional working on your behalf is priceless.

And you just wait – we’re working on our commercials.