Captive Agents - Captive insurance agents represent just one insurance carrier. In essence, they are employees of the carrier. The upside of working with a captive agent is that he or she has exceptionally thorough product knowledge. The downside is that he/she cannot provide access to products or pricing from outside their respective company. For this reason, you must have a high tolerance for carrier-specific terms, since each carrier and its in-house representatives may use language that is tough to compare across several companies that you encounter. Nevertheless, tap into that exceptional product knowledge and get smarter along the way as you search. The surge in online insurance websites offers consumers yet another option to use as part of their selection strategy. It is easy to find an insurance agent online, particularly one from a national insurance provider. Moreover, with 24-7 online access and quick comparison of policies, these web services are convenient, quick and a great way to ballpark quotes and to give you exposure to a wide variety of insurance providers. When you find one that is appealing to you, give them a call or fill out an agent request online.

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Brokers are not appointed by insurers. They solicit insurance quotes and/or policies from insurers by submitting completed applications on behalf of buyers. Brokers don't have the authority to bind coverage. To initiate a policy, a broker must obtain a binder from the insurer. A binder is a legal document that serves as a temporary insurance policy. It usually applies for a short period, such as 30 or 60 days. A binder is not valid unless it has been signed by a representative of the insurer. A binder is replaced by a policy.

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Of all our top picks, The Hartford has the fewest number of discounts: three of them, to be precise, for bundling policies, home security devices, and retirees. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll pay more for your home insurance. Just because a company offers 12 discounts doesn’t mean you’ll qualify for all (or any) of them, so it’s always worth comparing quotes instead of solely counting discounts.
Using a broker can also simplify the process of picking insurance. There are so many different choices for insurance, with different limits and exclusions for each policy. It can be difficult to know which insurance and what level of coverage is right for you or your business. This is where an insurance broker can help. Using their experience in the field, a broker can analyze your risks and liabilities to determine exactly what coverage you need. With access to a variety of technology-based tools, brokers can make it simple to compare various options to determine which policies would best fit your needs. Using a broker eliminates the stress of learning about different types of insurance, and makes it easy to figure out what insurance will work for you.
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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For select riders, the condition applies to the insured. See the product and rider fact sheets for details. Yearly Convertible Term (ICC18218-135P); Level Premium Convertible Term (ICC18218-60P); Living Benefits Rider (ICC18218-498R); Spouse’s Paid-up Insurance Purchase Option (Rider Insured’s Paid-Up Insurance Purchase Option in New York) (ICC17217-375R); Disability Waiver of Premium Rider (ICC18218-235R); Policy Purchase Option Rider (208-413). State variations may apply.

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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]
J.D. Power’s annual U.S. Household Insurance Study and Consumer Reports’ customer experience survey measure communication, price satisfaction, claims process, and timely reimbursement. From J.D. Power, we required companies to have a score of 3/5 or better, and at least an 80/100 Reader Score from Consumer Reports. High scores reflect a company’s ability to handle claims and communication kindly, effectively, and without frustration.
If you are in the market for insurance, you may have heard the terms ‘broker’ and ‘agent’ tossed around. While both are professionals in the insurance industry, these two job titles have some distinct differences. Both insurance brokers and insurance agents act as intermediaries between insurance buyers and insurers. They both must also have the appropriate licenses to distribute the insurance they are selling, while also adhering to any laws or regulations enforced by local insurance departments. The primary difference between an insurance broker and an insurance agent is who each represents. While a broker represents the insurance buyer, an agent represents one or more insurance companies.

The ability to pay claims is the backbone of any insurance, so the best way to compare insurance companies is to look to their financial solvency. To discover the top-rated insurance companies, we gathered financial strength ratings (FSR) from all three major rating agencies, but paid particular attention to ratings from A.M. Best, the only agency that focuses solely on insurance. We required at least an "A" rating from A.M. Best, as well as either a strong ("A") rating from S&P Global or a high quality ("Aa") from Moody’s.

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Analysis: That just means that your incumbent insurer’s underwriter won’t approve that coverage. The broker isn’t willing to do what’s needed to get the deal done, which is shopping the coverage to other insurers — exactly what brokers are supposed to do. It’s clear that this is the case, because on occasions when a second broker appears to bid on your business, you’ll find that suddenly the coverage you wanted becomes available after all.

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. 
A broker is someone who buys and sells products or assets on behalf of another. Therefore, an insurance broker is someone who acts on behalf of a client, called an insured, to provide them with guidance on what insurance coverage they need and to then assist them in buying that coverage from an insurance carrier. The broker is someone who specializes in insurance and risk management, whose role it is to help their insured nonprofit put together an insurance program of one of more policies that serve to mitigate the financial loss of claims. Essentially, they act as a consultant to the insured.
We required a strong financial outlook for all our top picks, but State Farm stood out for receiving the highest possible ratings from A.M. Best (A++), as well as top scores from S&P (AA) and Moody’s (Aa1). These high scores are an indication and assurance that the company is able to pay out its claims, even in disaster circumstances where many customers are filing claims.

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