One of the most-quoted bits of advice about saving money on car insurance is to buy direct from insurance companies, but buying direct isn't always the best choice. There are many very good reasons to buy car insurance through a local auto insurance agent or broker.Some of those reasons include personal service and more choices. Understanding how car insurance sales work can help you better decide whether to buy car insurance through an insurance company or through a local auto insurance agent or broker.
Why Buy Local?
When you purchase your car insurance through a local agent or broker, you'll be working with someone who is familiar with your state and city, as well as the full offerings of the companies they represent.
Local Agents Know the Local Risk Profile
While a company representative in another city might have access to your state's insurance laws, a local agent knows your community and your specific needs.
Because she works directly with drivers in your community, she knows the most common claims that come across her desk, which gives her a distinctly local - and very helpful - point of view about the types of insurance recommended for drivers in your city and your neighborhood.
Your Local Agent Is There for You
You've seen the television ads for the big companies, with local insurance agents showing up at the scene of the accident to dispense comfort and advice. While that's not a very realistic view of an agent's role, it's far closer to reality when you buy insurance through a local agent.
Your local agent is in a position to offer a level of service you won't get from a voice on the phone on the other side of the country. You might find that:
- Dealing directly with a car insurance agent will give you peace of mind. Many subscribers find comfort in dealing with a face rather than a computer screen when addressing questions about billing, claims, and policy issues.
- You can develop a working relationship with an agent, so you feel like a person rather than just a policy number.
- An agent can better customize an insurance package based on your needs and assets.
- If you're confused about policies, or are unsure about how much car insurance to carry, it can help to talk to an agent.
Types of Auto Insurance Agents
Before you choose a particular insurance agent, you should also understand the differences between types of insurance agents. In general, you'll encounter 3 types of agents:
- Captive agents sell insurance for a single insurance provider. Because a captive agent is appointed by only one company, he should know the ins and outs of the company and ways to save money.
- Independent insurance agents sell policies for multiple companies. An independent agent can help you compare rates and coverage from many different insurers.
- Insurance brokers are independent agents who sells insurance but not on behalf of an insurer. Brokers represent customers, not companies and may charge the customer a fee for their service.
What About Buying Car Insurance Online?
The Internet has made everything easier, including buying car insurance from local agents. Most agents have an online presence these days.
They may have their own website, and are probably associated with multiple car insurance search sites. For example, certain insurance websites have tools that allow you to search for independent agents from their site.
Get the Best Car Insurance Quotes
Whether you call your local agent or compare quotes online, there are a few things you can do to make sure you get the most accurate quotes and the best car insurance for your needs.
Have your information ready. You'll need your license and registration information, as well as some demographic information that will help the agent understand your needs. Research possible car insurance discounts beforehand and always ask whether you qualify for more. Know the minimum insurance you need for your situation, but be open to the agent's recommendations.