Monday, January 12, 2009

Insurance Agents & Brokers - What's the difference?

Insurance Agents
Insurance agents are insurance professionals that serve as an intermediary between the insurance company and the insured. Broadly speaking, an agent’s liability to their customers is administrative. That is, agents are only responsible for the timely and accurate processing of forms, premiums, and paperwork. Agents have no duty to conduct a thorough examination of your business or to make sure you have appropriate coverage. Rather, it is your obligation to make sure you have purchased needed coverage. Insurance agents can be either:
Captive – A captive agent is an agent who works for only one company and is a “captive” of that company. A captive agent will sell policies only for that insurer.
Independent – An independent agent is one who works as an agent for a variety of different insurers. An independent can produce policies from several insurers and offer some comparisons of different insurance policies.

Insurance Brokers
Insurance brokers can be best described as a kind of super-independent agent. Brokers can offer a whole host of insurance products for you to consider. Brokers are required to have a broker’s license which typically means the broker will have more education or experience than an agent. Brokers also have a higher duty, in most states, to their clients. Brokers have the duty to analyze a business and secure correct and adequate coverage for the business. This is a higher duty than the pure administrative duty of the agent. There may be additional fees when working through a broker.

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