Like most small business owners, you probably purchase your insurance policies through an insurance agent or broker. The functions performed by insurance agents are similar, but not identical, to those performed by brokers. This article will explain how they differ. It will also explain how agents and brokers make money from the premiums you pay your insurers. Except where noted, the following discussion applies to agents and brokers selling property/casualty insurance.
You will find independent insurance agents represent many of the same insurance companies offered by local insurance agents.  The biggest benefit is the time savings individuals and business will find.  Because the selection of insurance companies for personal, commercial and life insurance is so comprehensive you don't have to contact several agents for quotes.  An independent insurance agent may represent 5 to 10 insurance companies. 
Keep in mind, not all insurance companies use agents. You can do business directly with many companies by purchasing coverage online. These policies may be less expensive since the company doesn't have to pay the agent's commission. Regardless of how you buy the policy, make sure the company is licensed in your state, is financially stable and check to see if they have complaints.
I read the comments about the topic of my article and I see that some responses touch on the "middleman" in ways that suggest some things about those who reside "in the middle." One plus for us "middle" people is that we get to hear things from carriers that those on the retail buying end may not ever hear. Sometimes, when dealing with us "middle" people, you get a behind the scenes look at things that may have a bearing on your coverage. With life insurance through a broker vs an agent, you get to know that impaired risk underwriting (for unhealthy applicants) has a particular kind of nuance. For instance, carriers may decline your application because they take on a set number of impaired risk clients, and then they decline those coming after that. You might think, after being declined, that what they are telling you is "you are done, no life insurance for you." But, what I know from experience is that another carrier or two have not hit the limit yet on declines - and that might be the avenue of approach to get you approved. As a broker, I know things that apply across a broad spectrum of carriers, not just the playbook of one carrier. As a result, the market intelligence of this "middleman" can improve the experience of buyers by finding a way forward for them that is outside the boundary of what a retail buyer might ever know. One thing that I did not mention in the article is that I have been both a captive and a broker, and the experience allows me to see the pluses and minuses in both. Thank you for your responses, and if you have a question about insurance of any type (my specialties are life, Health, Disability, and Annuities) you may post it at MoneyTips.com and let the professional community respond to it. It's free, harmless, informative, relatively instant, and a bunch of other good things, too.
Customers claim that Progressive offers reasonable prices and attentive representatives. Our own experiences with Progressive were bolstered by its well-designed online quote tool. Like many insurance companies, Progressive relies on third-party underwriters, and most that do so automatically pair you with a single underwriter in order to produce a quote. Progressive furnishes quotes from several of its underwriting partners and allows you to choose the one that best suits you. This gives you the power to prioritize coverage and price.

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Brian E. Johnson ACAS, MAAA is the Chief Underwriting Officer for the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance. Mr. Johnson has worked in the consulting, insurance and re-insurance industry for 28 years. Prior to joining the Alliance, Mr. Johnson managed a Treaty Reinsurance Underwriting/Costing team at Swiss Re. Prior to Swiss Re, he was with Employers Re from 2003-2006 as a Senior Underwriter/Account Executive and a Senior Actuary. Mr. Johnson was with American Re from 1996-2003 and held the positions of Underwriting Risk Manager, Treaty Underwriting Manager and Actuarial Manager. He began his career in 1989 in the Actuarial field with Ernst & Young as an Actuarial Consultant in Atlanta and also worked as a Primary Insurance Rating Actuary at USF&G in Baltimore. Mr. Johnson holds a BS in Mathematics/Actuarial Science from Penn State University and is an Associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society and a Member of the American Academy of Actuaries. Mr. Johnson has worked with various nonprofits in the past including serving on the board of the Mid-State Literacy Council in Central Pennsylvania.
Nice write up. I personally have been able to save with an independent agent. A big concern of mine was finding an agent that worked with more reputable insurance carriers. There seems to be alot of agents who will use non-standard insurance carriers to provide cheaper coverage. I've heard some horror stories about customer service, sub-par adjustments, and claims services. I'd definitely do alot of research into the insurance companies the independent agent is appointed with.
However, not all homeowners insurance policies are the same. The Hartford is the only home insurance company endorsed by AARP. With our flexible options, savings and expert service, you’ll know that your home is getting the best protection possible. Get a homeowners insurance quote today and start saving your money and securing your home with The Hartford.

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While many factors go into calculating your rate, where you live is chief among them. Homeowners in states that are prone to hurricanes, hail storms, tornados and earthquakes tend to pay the most for home insurance. Insurance.com’s analysis of rates from top insurers for nearly every ZIP code in the country bears this out. Florida and Louisiana are the most expensive states for home insurance among six common coverage levels analyzed by Insurance.com. The least expensive states for home insurance are Hawaii and Vermont 
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Yes, we have to include some legalese down here. Read it larger on our legal page. Policygenius Inc. (“Policygenius”) is a licensed independent insurance broker. Policygenius does not underwrite any insurance policy described on this website. The information provided on this site has been developed by Policygenius for general informational and educational purposes. We do our best efforts to ensure that this information is up-to-date and accurate. Any insurance policy premium quotes or ranges displayed are non-binding. The final insurance policy premium for any policy is determined by the underwriting insurance company following application. Savings are estimated by comparing the highest and lowest price for a shopper in a given health class. For example: for a 30-year old non-smoker male in South Carolina with excellent health and a preferred plus health class, comparing quotes for a $500,000, 20-year term life policy, the price difference between the lowest and highest quotes is 60%. For that same shopper in New York, the price difference is 40%. Rates are subject to change and are valid as of 2/17/17.
When it comes to educating prospective buyers about the intricacies of homeowners insurance, Allstate stands out. Allstate’s website contains a library of best-in-class resources — everything from articles and videos to quizzes and infographics. Particularly impressive is the Common and Costly Claims tool that lets shoppers type in their ZIP code to see the most common claims in their region, complete with average dollar amounts for those claims. There’s also a startlingly realistic GoodHome home report that plays a Google Street View video of your home (or potential home) as it enumerates potential risks and gives local hazard data, plus prevention tips. Tools like this make it simple to understand which areas of coverage you may want to increase or supplement because of geographic or neighborhood risk.
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3 The above example is based on a scenario for 20‐year term life insurance (domicile state) that includes the following benefit conditions: $50,000 death benefit, $50,000 accidental death benefit, and $12,500 seatbelt benefit. Benefits may vary by state, benefit option, and level of coverage selected. Review your state‐specific brochure below for a “How It Works” scenario customized for your state.

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*Quotes based on a composite of participating carriers which have at least an "A-" rating by A.M. Best. Rates current as of 12/19/2017 for a Guaranteed 10-year term life policy, $250,000 in coverage issued at each company's best-published rates. Sample rate is for a preferred plus, non-tobacco user, male and female age 18-34. Rates and the products available may vary by state. All policies are subject to underwriting approval.
You can select a product that best suits your wallet and goals. For example, you can lock in premiums that are guaranteed to stay the same for a selected period. Or you can start with smaller premiums that increase every year. That could be a good choice if you plan to convert to a permanent solution. Our flexible options allow you to construct the perfect plan to fit your family’s needs—and your budget.

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Coverage varies greatly among regions, homes, and asset portfolios. If you and your neighbor called all the same providers asking for quotes, there’s a good chance the lowest option for you would come from a different provider than the lowest option for them. There’s no universally cheaper carrier. For some context, premiums can range in price anywhere from $500 to $2,000.
Insurance agents have a responsibility to the insurance company.  Agents act as the insurance company representative in the buying process as they are typically salaried employees.   Most insurance agents are “Captive” to represent only one company, such as: Allstate, State Farm, Farmer, etc.  Because they are contracted as captive insurance agents, they are not able to discuss or recommend other insurance companies.  

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Although insurance brokers work for their clients, they aren’t paid by them. Instead, they make commissions based on their sales. The commission is a percentage of the premium cost and varies by state law. It usually is between two and eight percent of the premium. If you work with a broker to buy homeowners, automobile, health, business, life or any other type of insurance, you will not pay them a fee for the services they provide.
Most states allow insurers to factor in your credit score when deciding what you’ll pay. The logic? Customers with high credit scores are less likely to make claims, and the insurer will return some of those expected savings in the form of lower rates. If you need some help getting on top of your score, and potentially improving it, check out our favorite credit monitoring services.

Of our favorite insurers, Allstate earned the lowest customer service scores: three out of five from J.D. Power and 80 out of 100 from Consumer Reports. While these scores pale in comparison to customer-service powerhouses like Amica, it’s important to contextualize the superior customer service of the field. Homeowners insurance is miles ahead of other service industries like internet service providers, so even a middle-of-the-road ranker like Allstate doesn’t leave much to be desired. When we tested its customer service ourselves, Allstate answered all of our questions politely and allowed us to end the call without signing over our Social Security number.
Medical Payments – Helps pay emergency medical bills if someone is injured on your property. It also covers any injury caused by a member of your family or your pet regardless of where it happens. Bills are paid, up to policy limits, whether you're legally responsible or not. This coverage is needed for something as simple as a guest tripping and falling down your staircase. Homeowner’s liability insurance can help when you are left to pay the medical bills.**

Yes. Homeowners insurance commonly covers these perils: fire, windstorm, hail, lightning, smoke, explosion, theft, vandalism, riot and vehicle collision. It commonly excludes — i.e. doesn't cover earthquakes, flood, power failure, war, nuclear explosion, neglect, ordinance of law (locally forced repairs) or intentional damage. Learn more about what your homeowners insurance covers (and what it doesn't).
“I recommend that people create video evidence of all their belongings, as well as the inside and outside of their home,” says Jeffrey D. Diamond, adjunct professor of insurance law at Georgia State University College of Law. Many providers have online lists you can help to keep track. “The more ways in which you can establish and prove the features of your home, as well as the quality and quantity of your personal property before a loss occurs,” Diamond adds, “the better your homeowners insurance coverage will serve you at the time of need, if and when the need arises.”

If your nonprofit is already working with a broker, be sure they understand your nonprofit’s mission, as well as how accidents and injuries might happen in the course of your mission.  Also make sure the broker is recommending the best insurance program to cover your nonprofit’s needs, and not the insurance program which will pay them the largest commission.  It never hurts to ask a broker about the commission to determine if that is influencing their recommendation in any way, as some carriers offer much higher commission than others. We do not offer the highest commission in the marketplace, so when brokers place business with us, you can be sure that getting the highest commission was not their first priority!
We started with a list of 99 insurers from the Insurance Information Institute and state insurance department websites. To guarantee that our picks for best insurance company would be applicable to all, we looked for providers with coverage in at least 40 states and no special requirements for membership (with the exception of USAA, which we'll cover below).

To sell insurance products on behalf of a particular insurer, an agency must have an appointment with that insurer. An appointment is a contractual agreement that outlines the specific products the agency may sell. It also specifies the commissions the insurer will pay for each product. The contract usually describes the agency's binding authority, meaning its authority to initiate a policy on the insurer’s behalf. The agent may have permission to bind some types of coverage but not others.
While local or special eligibility insurers can potentially write you a great homeowners policy at a competitive rate, large national carriers tend to have more discounts and bundling opportunities. They’re also better equipped to handle claims in the wake of a disaster. Their rolling claims centers, outfitted with generators, satellite connections, and agent workstations, can make all the difference in areas where power has been knocked out.
With an 82/100 satisfaction score from Consumer Reports and 4/5 power circles across the board from J.D. Power, State Farm’s customer service scores better than Allstate. State Farm scored best in damage amounts and policy offering categories, likely because it has the most thorough online quote process. You’ll need a binder full of details about your home to get a quote — with information as specific as the number of corners in your home’s frame. The quote process includes a 360Value tool that helps you calculate the Estimated Replacement Cost of your home, complete with detailed pictures to help you determine whether your interior cabinets are “Custom” or “Standard.” All this works together to give you an online quote that you can feel confident in.
NerdWallet compared quotes from these insurers in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, as well as any other coverage required in each state. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier.
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Rules of ethics. (You might say this is a simple case of “buyer beware,” but as government investigations have indicated, it’s the misrepresentation that’s the problem. Such investigations have found that brokers do not always consider their clients’ best interests, instead acting primarily in their own interests and those of their favored insurance companies.)

Our goal is to help you understand the importance of life, disability and long-term care insurance in a sound financial plan, so you’re able to better protect yourself and your family. We give you up-to-date information and personal accounts of how these types of insurance can change lives, along with financial information and trends that allow you put it all into perspective.
Agents and brokers both earn the bulk of their income through commissions earned on the sales they make. An agent working for one company can enjoy the stability that comes from having one compensation plan. A broker who works with a number of insurance companies can experience income variances, depending on which company's products she sells. However, brokers have the flexibility to write business through the companies that offer the highest commission rates, assuming they provide the products that meet their clients' needs.

State Farm offers standard discounts for installing certain protective devices in your home, such as smoke detectors and fire alarms. It also offers a unique discount if your roof was built using impact-resistant roofing products. However, you won’t get any price breaks based on the age of your home, even if it’s newly built. Similarly, State Farm doesn’t provide discounts for new homeowners or for homeowners who have recently completed renovations, both of which are offered by Allstate and Amica. If your house is new or recently received a face-lift, it might pay to shop around elsewhere.
Services not available to residents of South Dakota. In New York licensed as SelectQuote Insurance Agency. In Minnesota and Oklahoma licensed as SelectQuote Insurance Agency Inc., and in Michigan as SelectQuote Insurance Services Inc. In Rhode Island, Vermont and Wisconsin licensed as Charan J. Singh, Agent. In all other states licensed as SelectQuote Insurance Services.
If you aren't sure which policies you need, our Policy Buddy tool can help you find out in about two minutes. You can also talk with our agents, who specialize by industry. So if you own a bagel shop, your agent will have experience insuring food businesses. Their expertise means they can answer your questions and make sure you aren't paying for extra coverage you don't need.
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The Business Benefits Group is a full-service agency offering affordable, comprehensive insurance strategies for businesses. Our aim is to protect your assets by providing professional risk-management solutions. Whether you are a new or established business, you need the right type of insurance to protect your interests. When you contact BBG regarding our business insurance services, we will determine the best plan for you according to the needs of your business, the number of staff you have, risks that you may be facing, and similar factors. Call our office today to learn more about how we can protect your business or request a consultation online.

The materials available at this web site are for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact a licensed insurance agent or attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Use of and access to this Web site or any of the e-mail links contained within the site do not create a relationship between Insureon and the user or browser. The opinions expressed at or through this site are the opinions of the individual author and may not reflect the opinions of the firm.
NerdWallet compared quotes from these insurers in ZIP codes across the country. Rates are for policies that include liability, collision, comprehensive, and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverages, as well as any other coverage required in each state. Our “good driver” profile is a 40-year-old with no moving violations and credit in the “good” tier.
Progressive’s service varies heavily by state. As the company explains, “Insurance through the Progressive Home Advantage program is underwritten by select companies that are not affiliates of Progressive and are solely responsible for claims, including Homesite Group Incorporated, IDS Property Casualty Co., and ASI Lloyds, and their affiliates.” Basically, Progressive isn’t selling its own homeowners insurance, but has partnered with another company (the one that will pay your claim) in order to offer that insurance to its customers. If you’re already a Progressive customer, no need to stray. If you’re considering opening a policy with Progressive, though, be aware that your options for discounts and coverage will vary by state.
Well, actually, that was a fairly slanted article from someone who is advocating in his best interest from his point of view. Most Brokers are highly ethical and Brokers (not agents) DO have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. Most CFO’s also do not allow their Brokers to “last minute” them nor have an uncontrolled process. One of the biggest problems is not the Broker or Agent, but divisional reluctance to co-ordinate safety and loss prevention efforts WITH the CFO so that the CFO has a basis to negotiate with first of all, and for the organization to take a portion of it’s risk and self-insure where financially appropriate. For example, the adoption of telematics in fleets has moved very slowly and their is no good reason for proactive management to have allowed that to happen. That takes proactive risk management and coordination which is why many CFO’s have a risk manager position in their department.
Within Australia there are also a number of industry bodies that issue professional accreditations to members that comply with best standards of professional practice and integrity and maintain up to date skills and knowledge. The two main accreditations are the ANZIIF[12] CIP (certified insurance professional) and NIBA[13] QPIB (qualified practicing insurance broker) qualifications.

Our Entertainment Specialty team focuses on protecting touring entertainers, music tours, outdoor festivals, live events, promoters and professionally managed bands. We understand that our clients, several of whom are Grammy winners and Billboard Chart Toppers, perform all over the world and need an insurance partner who is flexible, understands the risks, and offers tailored insurance solutions. We make sure you have the right protection so you can focus on what you do best.
Negligence on the part of insurance brokers can have severe effects upon clients when they discover their insurance coverage is worthless, which in turn illustrates why retaining a competent insurance broker is so important. In one case, Near North Entertainment Insurance Services provided alternative rock band Third Eye Blind with a commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policy that excluded coverage for the "entertainment business." After insurance coverage for a lawsuit was denied because Third Eye Blind was and is, after all, in the entertainment business, the California Court of Appeal ruled in a published opinion that the broker had a duty to advise the band it needed something more than a basic CGL policy.[4]
Any of our top homeowners insurance picks could potentially be the cheapest for you. Most annual premiums for homeowners insurance range from $600 to $2,000 ($50 to $170 monthly) — the range is so vast because rates are influenced by numerous, and highly personal, circumstances. Is your home old or new? Is it framed with brick or wood? Is it in a busy city or a rural area? Is there a high risk of natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, or tornadoes? Are you bundling your policy with other types of insurance, such as auto or life? Those are only a few of the circumstances that can affect your quote.
State Farm offers standard discounts for installing certain protective devices in your home, such as smoke detectors and fire alarms. It also offers a unique discount if your roof was built using impact-resistant roofing products. However, you won’t get any price breaks based on the age of your home, even if it’s newly built. Similarly, State Farm doesn’t provide discounts for new homeowners or for homeowners who have recently completed renovations, both of which are offered by Allstate and Amica. If your house is new or recently received a face-lift, it might pay to shop around elsewhere.
When building your insurance policy, companies will offer discounts on your premium if you take measures that make you a lower-risk investment. For example, many companies give you a break for taking certain safety measures, like installing deadbolts or a security system. Most will knock their prices even lower if you don’t have a long claims history or if you sign up for auto-pay. We took into account the number and type of discounts offered to help maximize your chance at an affordable policy.

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