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How Do I Choose an Insurance Agent?

Tips for finding the right agent for YOU

I have written at length about The Best Way To Purchase Insurance on my blog. When looking for an insurance agent, you will find 2 kinds, Captive and Independent. Here are some of the key differences.

Captive Agent

  • Represents 1 company
  • Company has name recognition (State Farm, Allstate, etc.)
  • Narrow product access
  • Usually heavily focused on personal Home, Auto, and Life


  • Represents many companies
  • Broad access to different products
  • More likely to have expertise in commercial and personal insurance
  • Limited name recognition

We recommend that most people deal with an independent insurance agent for their own insurance and it comes down to 2 main factors: Expertise and Choice. This is not meant as a slight to our captive brethren. They do a good job in a lot of situations. However, they are just not as well equipped to handle all of your needs.


Most insurance agents have the expertise do an adequate job on a “standard” auto and home insurance package. Your auto and home risks may not be "standard", though.

Over 80% of commercial insurance is written through independent insurance agents. More of our focus is driven by commercial. Therefore, we generally have more expertise to cover those risks.


Independent agents are appointed to write business through many companies and if we don’t have a direct appointment with a company that we need, we can go out and get access to them through other means.  This is important for clients because it means we can shop a broad range of the the market to find the correct coverage at the best price with companies that have the proper expertise and service.

Captives have one company. If their company doesn’t offer everything that you need (try finding a good E&O or Cyber liability policy from a captive), they don’t have a way to get it for you.

One more thought on choosing an agent is to do just that. Choose AN agent. ONE AGENT.

Trying to keep relationships with many different agents can lead to a case of one hand not knowing what the other is doing. This will ultimately result in coverage gaps that can be very costly to you. On the flip side, it can also mean buying additional policies that you may not really need.

You need your agent to understand and be responsible for all of your risks. They can then tailor a plan that melds the personal, commercial, and professional exposures without leaving gaps.