Car Insurance and the Benefits of Having an Agent
By Emily Delbridge
Updated August 29, 2019
It used to be that the only way to purchase car insurance was through an agent. However, purchasing car insurance online is becoming more and more popular, which raises the question of whether you need an insurance agent.
Start by knowing all the methods to purchase car insurance. Then weigh the benefits of each one. Finally, go with your gut feeling. Car insurance is very important, and you want to make sure the coverage is made clear at the time of purchase. Here is a look at three sources of car insurance and the benefits of having an agent.
Three Sources of Car Insurance
A captive agent is an agent that sells one primary insurance carrier. These agents are not sole proprietors. They work directly for the insurance company. A captive agent's responsibility is to place business with one designated carrier. Some of the largest insurance carriers, such as State Farm, Allstate, and Nationwide, employ captive agents. Twenty-four-hour customer service centers are available for most carriers, but the agent handles most of the client's needs directly.
An independent agent sells insurance through multiple carriers. While an independent agent may sell primarily for one carrier, they still can place business with other carriers if it benefits the client. Independent agents work directly with the client verse the insurance carrier, allowing a broader search of carriers within one agency. Some insurance carriers which use independent agents include Auto-Owners, Citizens, and Hastings Mutual. Twenty-four-hour customer service centers are available for most carriers, but the agent handles most of the client's needs directly.
Buying direct online means no agent is involved in the insurance process. The client does most of the work by imputing all the pertinent information online. Some large online insurance carriers include Geico, Progressive, and Esurance.
Benefits of Having an Agent
Personalized service is something a lot of people still look for in the insurance industry. With so many automated services enforce, it's a breath of fresh air to see a smiling face or get a person on the phone verse trying to finagle your way through voice prompts. Lots of questions, maintenance, and claims surround car insurance. Having an agent is nice because you can always speak to the same person, which builds a strong relationship verse, multiple customer representatives.
Knowing Your Area
Having a local agent that knows your area is also a benefit. An agent can relate to you and where you live. If you have a claim, an insurance agent will know the good body shops and glass companies to recommend in your area.
Cash is becoming scarce, but for the people who don't want to give it up, most agencies still accept cash payments.
A big perk for having all your insurance with an agent is the multi-policy discount. Most insurance carriers offering products through an agent include car, home, and financial services which, when combined, receive a multi-policy discount. A lot of online companies are not yet offering home or financial products, limiting your potential discounts.