Making the decision to buy car insurance isn’t always as easy as just choosing a policy with the cheapest premium available. Some individuals prefer to go with a local insurance carrier for their policy, while others like to work with carriers directly.
At one time, the only way to buy auto insurance was through a licensed agent. In today’s digital age, however, there are more options available. Buying car insurance directly online is becoming more popular everyday, which brings up the question, do you need an insurance agent at all?
The first step is to weigh the pros and cons of each method for buying auto insurance and then figure out which one works best for you. Buying auto insurance is very important. Therefore, you want to be certain that the coverage you buy is adequate and will meet your needs.
Three Primary Car Insurance Sources
1. Independent Agent
And independent agent is one that sells insurance through a number of carriers. Even though an independent agent may primarily sell for only one carrier, they still have the option to do business with other carriers if they want, given that it benefits the clients. Independent agents, however, work directly for the customer rather than the carrier, enabling a much wider search of insurance carriers within one single agency.
Some carriers that use independent agents include Hastings Mutual, Citizens, and Auto Owners. Also, 24-hour customer service facilities are available for the majority of carriers although the agent manages most of the needs of the client directly.
2. Captive Agent
A captive agent is one that sells one single primary carrier. However, these agents are not considered sole proprietors although they do work directly for a particular insurance company. The responsibility of a captive agent is to do business with one chosen carrier. Some of the larger insurance carriers including Nationwide, Allstate, and State Farm hire captive agents. Again, 24-hour customer service facilities are available for most carriers even though the agent addresses most of the client’s needs directly.
3. Online Direct
Buying insurance directly online means there’s no agent involved during the process. Most of the work is done by the client themselves by entering all the related information directly online. Some of the most prominent insurance carriers online include Geico, Esurance, and Progressive.
Benefits of Using an Insurance Agent
• Multi-Policy Discount
One of the main perks of buying all your insurance with an insurance agent is getting a multi-policy discount. Most carriers offer a number of products through an agent, some of which include home, car, and financial services. When combined, the savings are potentially huge. Many of the companies online do not yet offer home and/or financial products, thereby restricting your potential discount savings.
• Cash Payments
Although most people normally don’t pay in cash anymore, some people still prefer this method.
• Personalized Customer Service
Personalized customer service is a concept that many people still seek. With all the automated electronic services implemented today, it’s nice to see a familiar face or actually talk to a real person on the phone versus listening to a recording. There are many questions that need to be answered concerning car insurance, such as maintenance and claims. Interacting with an agent builds a strong rapport and a sense of familiarity.
• Familiar with the Area
Working with a local insurance agent who’s familiar with your area can be a great benefit since they know where you live and can relate to you. Therefore, if you do have a claim, your agent will readily know a good body shop or glass company that they can recommend to you.
Benefits of Buying Insurance Directly Online
• Potential Cost Savings
It’s quite possible to get a significantly lower rate when buying auto insurance directly online. Because direct insurance carriers do not pay a commission for their agents, the customer benefits in terms of saving money. Keep in mind that one carrier alone is never single-handedly the cheapest or best for everyone. Whether online or off, you’ll need to research which carrier is best for your particular situation in terms of both coverage and cost.
• Quick Convenience
Buying auto insurance online is incredibly convenient and quick. Anyone can go online and receive a quote 24/7, which saves a great deal of time and effort for the client. There’s no waiting for an agent to call you back to find out your quote. If you need insurance in a hurry, purchasing it directly online is the most efficient way to go.
Due to today’s technology, insurance agents aren’t actually mandatory now. It’s a matter of what you prefer and how you want to do business. If you fully understand the details surrounding your insurance policy and don’t mind giving up the personal interaction that comes with having an agent, then buying insurance online may be an option for you. However, be sure to shop around for the ideal carrier as well as the best price.