If you’re shopping for car insurance quotes for the first time (or even if you are an experienced driver), you might be wondering which of the following methods is best:
- Getting car insurance quotes online.
- Using a dedicated agent.
- Using an independent agent (broker).
We’ll discuss the differences, along with the pros and cons of each.
Getting car insurance quotes online can be a quick and easy way to compare auto insurance rates among many different carriers. By inputting some basic data, such as your age, car make, and model, and zip code, you can get an estimated quote that will help you make some decisions on which company might be best for you.
Some customers, however, prefer to speak with someone directly about their coverage needs, available discounts, and other personal considerations. This is when working with an insurance agent can help.
Car Insurance Agents & Brokers
A car insurance agent or broker functions as an intermediary between a customer and an insurance carrier.
Dedicated agents, also called captive agents, represent only one insurance company. This means you are only getting information on one company’s coverage and rates when you work with a captive agent.
Independent agents, also called insurance brokers, work as agents for multiple insurance companies and gather information from across the car insurance market to:
- Compare insurance companies.
- Help the customer select the right product and company for his or her needs.
Independent agents aren’t tied to one company, so they are able help their clients find the best coverage at the most affordable price.
Using an independent agent can save you the hassle of calling several car insurance companies. However, it’s important to understand that in some cases, they may not be able to obtain a car insurance quote from each company you’re interested in. Consequently, you may still need to call some dedicated agents or compare quotes online when shopping around for auto insurance.
One more benefit of using an independent agent is that she may be able to help you with other insurance you might need, such as boat, RV, and motorcycle coverage.
Which One Is Right for You?
There are specific pros and cons of each method of purchasing car insurance. Your own needs will dictate which is right for you.
A dedicated car insurance agent:
- Works for one insurance company.
- Often works on commission.
- Has a vested interest in a specific company.
- Can guide you so you can figure out the type of coverage you need.
An independent agent:
- Helps you find the right coverage for your needs.
- Chooses from many different insurance carriers and plans.
- Might be able to find you less expensive coverage from the wide range of insurance options they can access.
- Can offer you guidance in managing all of your insurance coverage.
- Allow you to skip the middle man.
- Let you choose your insurance company and coverage yourself.
- Let you shop online without worrying when the agent or broker will be available.
- Provide for easy comparison-shopping amongst many companies.
- Require that you determine the best coverage for you on your own.
Whichever way you choose to shop, be sure to get a least 3 car insurance quotes, as rates can vary greatly from company to company.