When it comes to purchasing insurance, consumers have many choices. For most people, price is one of the most important factors when deciding what to buy and from whom. What consumers may not realize, however, are the benefits of working with an independent insurance agent.
West Bend works with independent insurance agents throughout the Midwest. The benefits of an independent insurance agent are countless.
In this week’s blog, I had the opportunity to interview two independent West Bend agents, Tracy Oestreich and Dan Wolfgram. Here are their thoughts on how an independent agent can benefit you.
Q: What’s the difference between a direct writer and an independent insurance agent?
A: Dan Wolfgram: The difference between a direct writer and independent agent is the independent agent works for the client and not the carrier. An independent agent represents many different insurance companies and offers the consumer choices.
A: Tracy Oestreich: Although both direct writers and independent agents share a common goal of providing customers with insurance, there are some notable differences. Direct writers (captive insurance agents) typically represent and work exclusively for one insurance company, providing a specific portfolio of insurance products. They’re limited to only that company’s products, services, and coverages. The standard of care offered by a direct writer can be less than that of an independent agent. That’s because the contract a direct writer has with a respective company usually stipulates the agent works for the insurance company and not for the customer.
Q: What are the benefits of working with an independent insurance agent?
A: Dan Wolfgram: An independent insurance agent can offer consumers choices. It’s not a one-size-fits-all proposition with an independent agency. You can develop a life-long relationship with your independent agent. With a direct writer, if something goes wrong and the direct writer company decides to non-renew your account, you have to find a new agent. Should that happen with an independent agent, your agent can find a new insurance carrier for you and you still maintain your trusted relationship.
Lastly, an independent agent has the ability to write even the most challenging accounts. Most independent agents can write basic home and auto package policies all the way up to major corporations with international exposures.
A: Tracy Oestreich: Independent agents have no exclusive relationship with any one insurance company. Independent agents offer a wide range of products from multiple insurance companies and are able to offer guidance on a variety of products, coverages, and prices. Independent agents don’t work for one particular insurance company; instead, they work for and represent their customers. This can be a key difference at claim time.
Since independent agents can offer more choices and savings, a consumer doesn’t have to spend hours gathering quotes from various direct writers. You can accomplish this task with a simple call or visit to an independent agent. It’s highly unlikely that an independent agent will have to turn away a potential customer with all the choices and options available.
Independent agents are all about showing consumers they can help people save lives, help prevent injuries, and help prevent financial hardship.
The true role of an independent agent is no longer about providing information, but more about guiding customers through choices that will best identify their needs and provide sound solutions.