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How To Find The Right Homeowners Insurance Agent

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Article 8 of 9 in How to Purchase Home Insurance

Like other types of insurance, you can purchase home insurance from an independent home insurance agent or one that works for a specific company. Whether or not you want an independent home insurance agent, or a company home insurance agent is up to you. Homeowner insurance companies offer similar policies regardless of what type of agent, however, you should do some research before you buy and find a home insurance agent you are comfortable with.

TIP: The right home insurance agent can make a difference when it comes to shopping for home insurance. Find an agent that works for you, and make sure they get the best home insurance policy for your needs.

Two Kinds of Home Insurance Agents

There are two kinds of home insurance agents that can sell you a policy:

  • An independent home insurance agent works for themself and not the insurance company. Normally, they provide insurance products for different companies for which they are appointed, and can get you a quote from several different home insurance companies. This allows you to compare not just the polices, but the companies as well. Because they are not attached to a company, the independent home insurance agent may have a little more leeway in what companies can charge you.

  • A Company Home Insurance Agent works for the insurance company for which they are selling. They are limited to only the products of that insurance company. For example, if you call a company home insurance agent with MetLife, they work for MetLife and will sell you only MetLife products. They are limited to selling you only what MetLife provides as a product for home insurance. Their commission is set by MetLife and they are paid by MetLife. Their pricing or rates for their insurance products are set by the company, meaning that a company home insurance agent can not deviate on price. However, they are normally experts in that homeowner insurance company's products, and you may get a greater degree of stability with your policy as it is owned by the company instead of an independent agent.

What to Consider when Selecting a Homeowners Insurance Agent

There are several things to consider when selecting a homeowners insurance agent. Asking the questions below may determine if you should choose a company or independent home insurance agent.

  • Will dealing with the same home insurance agent about your insurance issues over time make you more comfortable? Because your independent insurance agent owns the policy, you will have the same agent as long as that person stays in business. Home insurance agents that work for a company 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 the independent and the company home insurance agent will get to know you and your family. However, the independent home insurance agent will have a wider array of homeowner's insurance 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, several prior claims on the home, or bad credit). The company agents can only quote within the guidelines of his or her home insurance company and may have to refer you to another company if you are declined.

  • Do you want the home insurance agent to do the insurance shopping for you and handle claims? Some independent home insurance agents will not handle the claim for you. They will refer you to the home insurance company where they placed your policy. This holds true for company home insurance agents as well. However, company agents are employees of the same company that will be handling your claim, which means, that they may have a little more room to weigh in on your claim and be more helpful. Keep in mind that an agent employed by the company still works for the company, and their interest is making the company money.

Pros and Cons of Company vs. Independent Home Insurance Agents

After reading above it may appear you can get one stop shopping with an independent life insurance agent. Not so fast! Consider the following pros for each type before you make up your mind:

  • A company home insurance agent could provide better pricing. It all depends on the underwriting criteria of the company for the insurance product that you are pricing and the rates for that particular carrier.

  • Independent home insurance agents drop and pick up different insurance carriers all the time, and 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 homeowner's insurance policy, there are some captive agents that can't do this type of insurance at all because the home insurance company that they are employed by does not sell these products. In this case, a company home insurance agent may refer you to an independent agent who may have several options for your high risk home insurance.

  • Some insurance companies only sell through company home insurance agents, or set lower rates if you purchase through a company agent. If you like a particular feature of MetLife's home insurance policy, you may find that it is only sold by MetLife agents, or that they sell it cheaper than independent agents can.

  • Both agents should be able to help you find the best discounts on your home insurance, however, an independent agent may have a wider array to choose from because they have more companies available to them.

TIP: Which agent you ultimately use is totally based on your needs and your budget. Do your homework! Ask an insurance professional any questions about your options before you make a decision.

Which home insurance agent is best for you really depend on your needs and preferences. Make sure you ask the agent if they are an independent or a company home insurance agent. Ask them if they can get you other quotes with other home insurance 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.

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