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Independent Insurance Agents

Independent insurance agencies represent multiple companies and sell multiple products. By being able to present various options for their clients, they are usually able to save their clients money on policies such as auto, home, business, motorcycle, and boat insurance.

What is a captive agency?

A captive insurance agency is typically an agency that sells almost exclusively through one company. Think State Farm, Nationwide, Geico, or Allstate. These companies can have very competitive rates provided you meet their criteria for their target market.

What are some reasons to go through an independent insurance agency?

More Insurance Companies to Shop

By representing numerous companies, they can typically quote them all and give you better pricing. Most independent insurance agents have some form of comparative rating software that allows them to shop various insurance carriers at the same time without having to quote each one individually. This saves time and money during the shopping process. The law of numbers proves that if you get quotes through 12 different insurance companies then you will likely find a better rate with one of the 12 rather than just calling 1 company.

What are some of the companies that independent agencies sell through?

People ask a lot what companies we write through since we market our individual agency name.

Some of the more common ones that we write through are shown below. These companies are commonly used in other independent agencies as well

  • Progressive
  • National General (GMAC)
  • The Hartford
  • Travelers
  • Safeco
  • Liberty Mutual
  • Universal Insurance
  • Foremost
  • Met Life

Less Stringent Underwriting Guidelines

Whereas captive insurance companies can be very particular about their target market, going through an independent insurance agent gives you various companies and policy options. Some examples of situations where your rates might be negatively impacted by certain captive agencies are shown below.

  • Poor credit
  • Tickets or accidents
  • A suspended drivers license in the last 5 years
  • A recent home claim
  • Inexperienced operator
  • No prior insurance
  • Insurance on older home
  • Business insurance on certain business types

You Need an Expert

Insurance is complicated and you need an expert to help explain coverages and give advice. Just like you would hire a medical doctor for health problems or an attorney for legal concerns, you should put your trust in an insurance professional to help explain terms you may not understand or be familiar with.

One Stop Shop

Your typical independent insurance agency can offer you most or all of your insurance needs under one roof. This way when you have questions on your various policies you won’t have to call around to multiple agencies to get answers. Your independent agent can shop your rates for all of your insurance policies giving you several options.

An independent insurance agency is a valuable source for all of your insurance needs. Too often people feel safe by going with one of the 4-6 insurance companies that you see advertisements for almost daily. Those ads are expensive and that typically means you could be paying for them to find their future clients. I currently have all of my personal and business policies through 7 different insurance companies and this saves me the more money on my premiums versus bundling it with one company that may charge me a lot more on certain policies. If you are worried about your bottom line than you should consider getting a quote through a local independent agent.

We work directly with a lot of captive insurance agencies and when we feel like our clients are better served by placing their policy or policies with one of those companies, than we refer them. Many captive companies return the favor and refer clients to us when they may not be able to offer them the most competitive rates.

It is up to you to make that choice because you cannot rely on others to provide you what is best for you. I recommend at least putting an independent insurance agency on your list the next time you are shopping for insurance.

Insurance Discounts

There are many types of discounts that can be offered on various insurance policies. We will discuss some of them and the things you may be able to do to qualify in further lowering your overall rates. Most agents will ask you questions to see if these discounts apply.

Not all insurance companies will offer the same discounts. NC does regulate discounts that can be applied in some situations due to insurance rate regulations. Over the years the number of discounts allowed has significantly increased.  You should take advantage of each and every one that applies as it will not only effect your overall premium in the current term you are in, but in future terms as well.

Homeowners discount- This is a discount given on your policy for simply being a homeowner.

Incident-free discount- This one provides a discount for not having any driving incidents at all, including non-chargeable violations and not-at-fault accidents. It is true these days that a lot of companies charge a higher rate even if you were hit from behind due to this discount being removed.

Proof of prior insurance- If you have had prior insurance for at least 6 months you will likely pay less with most companies. There are higher discounts for being with your prior carrier for 3 or 5 years.

Multiple policies discount- This discount can be applied to all of your insurance policies for carrying your different policies with the same insurance company or insurance agency.

Automatic payment deduction discount- Most carriers these days will give you a relatively large discount if your policy is deducted automatically from your checking account.

Paid in full discount- This discount is even higher in most cases and applies to your overall premium if you pay the policy in full. In addition, you will avoid payment service charges each month on your insurance.

Security system discount- This applies to your home insurance policy and will provide a credit to your premium if you can provide an alarm certificate from your security company showing the home alarm is monitored by a central station alarm.

Claim free discount- Applies when you have not had any claims for a specified period of time, usually 3 or 5 years.

Paperless discount- Most companies that are set-up to deliver bills and other documents through e-mail instead of through the US Post Office will provide a discount for choosing this method of delivery.

Good student discount- This discount is provided by insurance companies through various criteria giving a reduction in your premium for drivers that are good students.

Air bag and various safety equipment discounts- Auto policies will provide discounts for certain safety features on your automobile. These are usually automatically generated once your VIN is provided.

Claim free renewal discount- Certain companies will give a discount for each renewal that you are claim-free and in some cases they may offer a diminshing deductible.

Rider association discount- Motorcycle policies will often give a credit if you belong to a rider association.

Safety course discount- Certain safety courses that you have completed will lower your rates such as a motorcycle safety course.

Pleasure use discount- If you use your vehicle for pleasure use then you will likely get a reduced rate.

New home discount- The age of your home can play a factor in your overall rate. Newer homes receive better rates in most cases.

Good credit discount- NC does allow reduced rates depending on your overall credit score. The credit score that is run is a soft hit on your credit and will usually not effect your credit score in any way. If you have excellent credit then you will see a large decrease in your overall rate and this is typically one of the largest discounts of the ones we have discussed.

These are just some of the more common discounts that can be applied on all types of insurance policies. If you stack these discounts then it can make a significant difference in your overall rate. It is good practice to ask what discounts can be applied on each of your insurance policies when you are getting an insurance quote.

ONLINE INSURANCE QUOTES

Getting insurance quotes online has never been easier. We are in the technology age where our technology is advancing more quickly than anytime in history. Just think how much has changed in the last 10 years in how we shop, listen to music, watch movies, and access the internet. With all of these advancements in technology, the way we shop for insurance was bound to change as well. We will discuss some of the benefits of shopping for insurance along with some of the hazards as well.

Our website allows users to shop for insurance in 3 ways.

  1. Call a licensed agent.
  2. Get an instant online quote that you can bind yourself.
  3. Input your info into an online form that will be transferred to a licensed agent to shop

Every individual is different with different needs so shopping for insurance should fit those differences as well allowing the user to be satisfied with the results.

Some of the positives in shopping for insurance online are:

  1. Quotes are timely and in many cases instant
  2. Ease of use
  3. You can do it directly on your computer or phone without having to talk with someone
  4. You don’t have to deal with individual sales people
  5. Instant issue of your policy

Some of the negatives in shopping for insurance online are:

  1. You may not get the coverage you need
  2. You can’t ask questions
  3. Certain kinds of insurance aren’t available to be quoted or issued online
  4. You can’t always get quotes from multiple companies like you can when dealing with an independent agent

Many of the online quoting companies are very user-friendly, including our own. However, unless you are a licensed agent you may not understand what coverages will fit your needs. Insurance is extremely important and without the proper coverage, the results can be detrimental.

I still feel that shopping for insurance of all kinds including auto insurance, home insurance, commercial insurance, etc is best when issued and advised by insurance professionals so that you will be adequately covered in the event of a loss. It is for this reason that home insurance policies and commercial policies among others cannot be quoted and especially issued by customers themselves. We offer instant online quotes and the ability to issue your own policy to meet the increasing needs of customers but please be careful with this technology.

When in doubt please call us to ask any coverage questions or advice on what policy would be best for you. Even if you have already issued your own policy it can’t hurt to have a licensed insurance agent look at your policy and make any recommendations for you.