What is the Difference Between a Car Insurance Broker and an Agent?

Last Updated on March 7, 2021

Purchasing car insurance can be very confusing, and one of the things to consider is whether to work with an insurance broker or an insurance agent. While both brokers and agents can help you get car insurance coverage for your vehicle, the two are not the same. It is important to understand the differences between the two so that you can make a decision about who to work with to get your car insurance coverage.

What is an Insurance Broker?

difference between car insurance agent and brokerAn insurance broker is someone who is experienced in determining what kind of coverage you need, finding you the best rates and conditions, and helping you purchase your policy. They will also help you file a claim if one ever becomes required. Insurance brokers work for you, the buyer. They will ask you a number of questions about your vehicle, your driving record and background, the area you live in, and how you will be using your vehicle.

Armed with this information, the insurance broker will check with different car insurance providers to find you the best rates and conditions for the coverage that you need. They will be able to assess your risk and determine what types of coverage you should have, and help you obtain that coverage. They may also be able to bundle different types of insurance to save you even more and get you the best rates.

What is an Insurance Agent?

An insurance agent works for car insurance companies. Most car insurance agents work for just one company, although some independent agents may work with multiple companies. Most car insurance agents that work with multiple companies may not be able to help you get the best rates, because they may not have access to all of the policy options that are offered by a company.

Car insurance agents are not familiar with assessing risk, and while they may have recommendations on what coverage you want to get, they are not experts in the matter. Instead, most car insurance agents simply do what you can do for yourself online. They plug in your information and numbers into an online system to generate a quote and policy, which is underwritten by an expert within the car insurance company in another location.

Car insurance agents work for the car insurance companies rather than for you. They will do some things for you that brokers will do, such as helping you file claims or make changes to your policy, but for the most part, their job is done when you purchase your policy.

Which Should You Choose?

If you want to work with an individual or agency to obtain your car insurance, you are often better off working with a car insurance broker. Brokers work for you on your side. They are out to get you the best coverage, conditions and rates that are possible, regardless of what company those might be through. Brokers will do the legwork for you, finding you the best coverage and rates possible without you having to lift a finger. Car insurance agents will only give you the policy options that are available with the one or two companies that they work with.

If you still aren’t sure that an insurance broker or agent can get you the best rates and coverage, you can always work to find your own car insurance. You can get online quotes from multiple companies with different conditions and coverage, compare the rates and conditions, and make a purchasing decision. However, if you are not familiar with the car insurance market, you may find that you can get a much better deal by going through an insurance broker.

Finding Brokers and Agents

If you want to go through an insurance broker, you will be able to find car insurance brokers easily online. Many car insurance brokers can do all of their business online or by phone, without you ever having to set foot in their office. This means that you can work with an insurance broker from anywhere, although it is usually a good idea to work with one from your state or experienced in the insurance requirements for your state.

If you want to go through an insurance agent, you can also find these online through directory listings and the like. Many of the major car insurance companies only work through agents, and when you go to their website they will have a directory of available agents in your area. You can also shop around online for the best rates to decide what insurance company you want to go through and then locate an agent in your area that works with that company. Since car insurance agents work with one or two companies only, you will be much more limited.

James Shaffer
James Shaffer James Shaffer is a writer for InsurancePanda.com and a well-seasoned auto insurance industry veteran. He has a deep knowledge of insurance rules and regulations and is passionate about helping drivers save money on auto insurance. He is responsible for researching and writing about anything auto insurance-related. He holds a bachelor's degree from Bentley University and his work has been quoted by NBC News, CNN, and The Washington Post.
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