How to Find the Right Homeowners Insurance Agent
Find the right homeowner's insurance agent by considering the two agent types and what you need them to do. Home insurance agents are either independent or bound to a specific provider, but the right one will get you better insurance coverage at a better price no matter where they work. Which type of agent is best for you depends on your needs and preferences. For more legal help, use the free tool below.
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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Like other types of insurance, you can purchase a homeowners policy from an independent homeowners insurance agent or one that works for a specific company. Homeowner insurance companies offer similar policies regardless of how you purchase.
TIP: Find one who works for you, and make sure they get the best home insurance policy for your needs.
What Are the Two Kinds of Home Insurance Agents?
There are two kinds that can sell you a policy:
- An independent home insurance agent works for themselves and not the provider. Normally, they provide products or policies for different companies for which they are appointed. They can get you a homeowners insurance quote from several different companies. This allows you to compare not just the policies but the companies as well. Since they are not attached to a specific provider, someone working independently may have a little more leeway in providing options if one company’s coverage doesn’t make sense.
- An agent works for the provider for which they are selling. They are limited to selling only the products of that particular provider. For example, if you call one with MetLife, they work for MetLife and will sell you only MetLife products. They are limited to selling you only what coverages and policies MetLife provides. Their commission is set by MetLife, and they are paid by MetLife. Their pricing or rates for their products are set by the company. They are normally experts in that provider’s policies and products, and you may get a greater degree of stability or lower rates with insurance policies as they are owned by the company.
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How Can You Avoid Sacrificing Quality for Price with Homeowners Insurance?
Whether you’re talking to a broker or in-house insurance agent, homeowners insurance coverage can be complicated. Different companies may offer you lower prices, but that’s not always a good thing. For example, if one company only offers half the coverage, you could end up paying more if you ever need to file a claim.
Homeowners quotes are partially based on a replacement cost estimator. In short, insurers use property information to determine how much it would cost to rebuild your home as it is right now. If the replacement cost with one insurer comes in significantly lower than it did with another, you may want to ask why.
What You Should Consider when Selecting a Homeowners Insurance Agent?
Asking the questions below may determine if you should choose a company or independent agent.
- Will dealing with the same professional about your issues over time make you more comfortable? Since your independent agent owns the policy, you will have the same contact for as long as that person stays in business. Company employees, on the other hand, may come and go.
- Do you want to discuss your insurance plans and needs with someone who knows your home, family, or homeowner’s history? Over time, both agent types will get to know you and your family. However, the independent agent will have a wider array of companies from which he can give you a quote, and can be more sensitive to your family needs. This is good especially if you have a hard risk to insure (a home in a rural area, high claim activity or larger claims on the home, or bad credit). Those who are company employees can only quote within the guidelines of where they work and may have to refer you to elsewhere if the situation arises that you are declined.
- Do you expect to get new quotes and change coverage in the future? Many insurers offer multi-policy discount options. But being locked in with one insurer may not be the best option for some people. This is especially true if you anticipate making changes to your home that would require changes in coverage. With an in-house insurance agent, you may limit your coverage options.
- Do you want the home insurance agent to do the shopping for your policy and handle legitimate claims? Some independent agents will not handle the claim for you. They will refer you to your policy provider. However, they are employees of the provider that will be handling your claim, which means they may have a little more room to weigh in on your claim and be more helpful. Keep in mind that a provider’s employee still has loyalty to the provider, and their business interest is making the money.
What are the Pros and Cons of In-House vs. Independent Home Insurance Agents?
After reading the above, it may appear you can get one-stop shopping with an independent. Not so fast! Consider the following pros for each type before you make up your mind:
- A company employee could provide better pricing. It all depends on the underwriting criteria of the provider for the product that you are pricing and the rates for that particular carrier.
- Independents drop and pick up different insurance carriers all the time. They can save you some time shopping by allowing you to get many quotes from different companies.
- If you need an assigned risk or high-risk liability coverage, there are some in-house agents that can’t do this type of policy at all. The home insurance company that they are employed by may not sell these products. In this case, you may be referred to an independent agent who may have several options.
- Some companies only sell through company agents or set lower rates if you purchase through them.
- Both agents should be able to help you find the best discounts on your home insurance. This is true whether you’re buying homeowners insurance or a renters policy, one policy or several, etc. Most insurance companies offer an array of policies from personal to business insurance. However, an independent may have a wider array to choose from because they have more companies available to them. If something goes wrong or there are better rates, the same agent can also help you find a replacement homeowners insurance policy.
TIP: Ask a professional any questions about your options before you make a decision.
Which home insurance agent is best for you really depends on your needs and preferences. Make sure you ask them if they can get you other quotes with other companies so you can have a comparison, and make a decision based on what you are comfortable with. To get started with an online homeowner’s insurance quote for your home, click here and take advantage of the Free Advice quote center today.