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Using an insurance agent?


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We’ve never used an insurance agent, just always called a company directly.  But I’m shopping for new homeowners insurance (Florida), and wondering how using an agent may help or not.  How do they get paid, what do they do, and how to find a good one.  Thanks!

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We use a broker. They use many different companies so they can shop around to find us the best deal, which sometimes changes from year to year.

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1 minute ago, Soror said:

We use a broker. They use many different companies so they can shop around to find us the best deal, which sometimes changes from year to year.

Is a broker different from an agent then?  How did you find yours?

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My understanding is an agent sells insurance, a broker shops for it. No clue on the pay structure.

I just shopped my own with 3 companies. The difference in price between the three was almost non-existent. Where they got competitive was in discounting for combining car insurance. The prices themselves were, again, so close they were irrelevant. But the discounts ranged from 3% off car premium (Geico) to over $400 off homeowners premium (State Farm).

It was an annoying chore, but nothing compared to health insurance!

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I always want an agent so that in case of a claim he can help me.

I look for ones that seem like they understand the policies inside and out and then use them.

I would rather pay a little more for that.

Agents get paid by the insurance company so you don’t pay them extra, but the insurance they represent is sometimes a little more expensive than pure online insurance.  But I think that pure online insurance is a problem at claim time.

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2 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

I always want an agent so that in case of a claim he can help me.

I look for ones that seem like they understand the policies inside and out and then use them.

I would rather pay a little more for that.

Agents get paid by the insurance company so you don’t pay them extra, but the insurance they represent is sometimes a little more expensive than pure online insurance.  But I think that pure online insurance is a problem at claim time.

We have "an agent" but I'm not sure why.  They don't do anything with claims, billing, or answering questions.  All those things are routed directly to the insurance company.  It kinda of irks me because what the point when they don't do anything for me but yet their name is listed on our policy (years ago we had an agent but the company has been bought out, the original agent retired and now we are left with this new "agent" who I've never talked to or even communicated with in the 6-7 years they've been listed on our paperwork).  

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6 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

I always want an agent so that in case of a claim he can help me.

I look for ones that seem like they understand the policies inside and out and then use them.

I would rather pay a little more for that.

Agents get paid by the insurance company so you don’t pay them extra, but the insurance they represent is sometimes a little more expensive than pure online insurance.  But I think that pure online insurance is a problem at claim time.

Agents have very very little control over claims these days.  Things have really changed.  I have a lot of customers who really really insist on trying to get their agent to file claims for them....but it just doesn't work that way any more.  An agent now seems to be mostly a salesman.  

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3 hours ago, cjzimmer1 said:

We have "an agent" but I'm not sure why.  They don't do anything with claims, billing, or answering questions.  All those things are routed directly to the insurance company.  It kinda of irks me because what the point when they don't do anything for me but yet their name is listed on our policy (years ago we had an agent but the company has been bought out, the original agent retired and now we are left with this new "agent" who I've never talked to or even communicated with in the 6-7 years they've been listed on our paperwork).  

My State Farm agent is really good about answering questions, giving me quotes etc. But it is obvious to me they are always trying to upsell me.  

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7 hours ago, Carol in Cal. said:

I always want an agent so that in case of a claim he can help me.

I look for ones that seem like they understand the policies inside and out and then use them.

I would rather pay a little more for that.

Agents get paid by the insurance company so you don’t pay them extra, but the insurance they represent is sometimes a little more expensive than pure online insurance.  But I think that pure online insurance is a problem at claim time.

Not here. I had a claim where the person who hit me had the same insurance. The agent said he couldn’t help. I switched insurance.

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There are two main types of insurance agetns.  A captive agent is one who represents only one insurance company (Allstate, Nationwide, State Farm, etc.).  An independent agent will represent more than one insurance company and may place your coverage with any of the companies they have an agency relationship with (like Travelers).  Those agents are paid commissions by the insurance companies.  Companies like Geico or USAA sell directly to the consumer without an agent.  

A good agent will take the time to get to know you and your insurance needs, suggesting the right types and amounts of insurance.  A good agent will also be aware of any discounts that might exist if you bundle home and auto, etc.  They are also helpful with some "what if" questions--how much will my insurance be if I buy that sportscar versus the minivan....

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4 hours ago, Bootsie said:

There are two main types of insurance agetns.  A captive agent is one who represents only one insurance company (Allstate, Nationwide, State Farm, etc.).  An independent agent will represent more than one insurance company and may place your coverage with any of the companies they have an agency relationship with (like Travelers).  Those agents are paid commissions by the insurance companies.  Companies like Geico or USAA sell directly to the consumer without an agent.  

A good agent will take the time to get to know you and your insurance needs, suggesting the right types and amounts of insurance.  A good agent will also be aware of any discounts that might exist if you bundle home and auto, etc.  They are also helpful with some "what if" questions--how much will my insurance be if I buy that sportscar versus the minivan....

Your first paragraph is super helpful, thank you.  So if I’m interested in quotes from any of those companies listed, I go to them or their agent directly.  A broker would not be able to quote them for me, but brokers work with dozens of smaller/lesser known companies that I might not even know about.  I’ll be busy with phone calls next week 

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