Independent Insurance Agent vs Exclusive Agent

Exclusive car insurance agents are loyal to specific companies, whereas independent car insurance agents are not. Comparison shopping can reduce your car insurance rates by up to 20%.

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A former insurance producer, Laura understands that education is key when it comes to buying insurance. She has happily dedicated many hours to helping her clients understand how the insurance marketplace works so they can find the best car, home, and life insurance products for their needs.

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Joel Ohman is the CEO of a private equity backed digital media company. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, author, angel investor, and serial entrepreneur who loves creating new things, whether books or businesses. He has also previously served as the founder and resident CFP® of a national insurance agency, Real Time Health Quotes. He has an MBA from the University of South Florida. Jo...

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Reviewed by Joel Ohman
Founder & CFP®

UPDATED: Jan 20, 2021

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Here's what you need to know...

  • Your choice of insurance agent can have a big impact on your life
  • Independent agents can offer insurance plans from many companies
  • Exclusive agents offer plans for one company

If you were contemplating having brain surgery would it matter to you who your surgeon was? Of course, it would! You would want only the best, most experienced, and most successful surgeon working on you.

When it comes to car insurance and purchasing from an agent, the same principle should apply.

Car insurance has the potential to change your life forever if you’re ever involved in a serious accident, so who you purchase it from matters just as much as who you choose to operate on you; well, almost as much.

If you’re inclined to search for car insurance quotes online, you can get started right now by entering your ZIP code into our FREE search tool.

In the insurance industry, there are some agents who do a better job than others. There are also those who are very conscientious about quality, ethics, and genuinely protecting the customer, while their competitors couldn’t care less as long as they get their paycheck.

Your agent will be your representative in finding you the best possible policy at the best price.

That’s why your choice of agent is an important one. If he doesn’t have high standards he won’t be able to fulfill that role.

Should I look for an agent that’s been around a while?

One of the advantages of using a local, independent agent is that he is familiar with your local area and what drivers typically encounter where you live.

It would make sense that an agent who has lived and worked in your community for the 30 years would have more valuable experience in this area than one who’s only been around for three or four years.

While it’s not always the case, agents who have lived and worked alongside you for a longer period of time tend to be more liked by customers.

Keep in mind that agents who have been around a while often grow large enough to establish a multi-agent office. That might mean your agency is owned and operated by a local resident who has lived there all his life, yet some of his employees may hail from elsewhere.

This is no reason to dismiss this agency. As long as the owner has strong local ties, it’s likely that you’ll still get the same locally personalized service.

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Should I look for an exclusive agent or an independent one?

In the truest definition of the word, exclusive agents are qualified insurance agents just as much as their independent competitors.

However, since one of the main reasons people choose to purchase car insurance through an agent is that they provide more options, an exclusive agent may not be the best choice.

He represents either a single company or a group of companies under the same management structure. Therefore, he is unable to offer you all the choices an independent agent can.

On the other hand, an independent agent owes no allegiance to any single company.

He represents multiple companies over all the lines of insurance he offers. This allows him to compare policies from all of them to find you the best deal.

It also encourages car insurance companies to be more competitive in order to present agents with the best products and services. Unless you need an exclusive agent for a particular product, you should probably consider an independent one.

What are the signs of a bad car insurance agent?

Assuming you want your car insurance agent to be of the highest quality and caliber, there are some signs you can look for to help identify the bad ones:

  • Communication – An agent who is difficult to get a hold of, doesn’t answer  messages, or doesn’t answer questions directly, is probably an agent you should leave. A quality agent makes himself available as much as possible and knows his business well enough to answer your questions with qualified answers.
  • Longevity – A quality car insurance agent also tends to put down roots and stay for a while. Agents that come and go every couple of years are those whose business practices probably should be questioned.
  • Relationship – Lastly, another sign of an undesirable insurance agent is that he treats his business like the used car salesman who simply wants to move cars off a lot.

If you’re running your insurance agency properly, there should be no reason for constant movement and relocation unless it’s due to the fact that you’re experiencing explosive growth. Otherwise, stability and continuity are good signs.

If your insurance agent is unwilling to spend whatever time is necessary to ensure you get the best policy, then he’s not really interested in maintaining your best interests.

Look for an agent who will invest some time in your relationship and do whatever it takes to make sure you’re happy.

Even if you plan to use an independent agent, you can get started on your search for car insurance rates by entering your ZIP code in the box below.



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Enter your ZIP code below to view companies that have cheap car insurance rates.

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