Insurance agents, often referred to as “captive” agents, typically represent one insurance company. Insurance brokers, on the other hand, represent multiple insurance companies to ensure that you are connected with the right insurance for you. An agent acts as a conduit to provide information to insurance buyers. The insurance buyer then has the option to choose from available policies and contracts from the insurer offered through the agent. These policies and contracts are decided through contractual agreements that the insurance agents have with the insurers to meet certain guidelines.
Before you grab a quote from Progressive, you should know that coverage and discount may vary depending on your state. This is because the company doesn’t back homeowners policies itself, but partners with other companies to offer it to Progressive Auto customers. As the company explains it, “Insurance through the Progressive Home Advantage® program is underwritten by select companies that are not affiliates of Progressive and are solely responsible for claims, including Homesite Group Incorporated, IDS Property Casualty Co., and ASI Lloyds, and their affiliates.”
Some insurance agents, such as independent agents, will compare policies from multiple vendors. However, this does not mean that the agent has access to all of the vendor’s policies. As insurance agents represent insurers, they may or may not have the experience and expertise required to advise you regarding the best policy for your particular situation. While independent insurance agents may be able to offer you more choices as they work with companies that are competing for your business, they generally only sell the insurance options that will provide them with the biggest profits. Keep this in mind when choosing between an insurance broker and insurance agent.
Notes No risk of losing coverage, but no cash value when term ends No risk compared to other permanent types, but there are probably better investment options Refunds your premiums at the end of the term if you outlive the policy - Risk of holding expensive insurance policy with little ot no cash value Risk of holding expensive insurance policy with little to no cash value
The biggest downside to Erie is that it is only available in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. As well, Erie still relies strongly on its agent network; which isn't always a bad thing. A strong agent network is usually key to ensuring a smooth claims process. If you want to quickly buy car insurance without speaking to anyone though, Erie may not be the company for you. While you can start the process online, you ultimately will have to speak with an agent to finalize your quote. Erie will be ideal for any customers within its market, who do not mind putting in some extra effort to get quality and cheap auto insurance.
If you find yourself away from the wheel more times than not, a pay-per mile auto insurance company like Metromile may be the best company to go with. Metromile is one of the first companies in the U.S. where a bulk of a driver's premium is determined by how much they drive. How much is too much? We found that generally for Metromile to be a good deal, drivers should only drive 7,500 miles or less per year. The biggest downsides to Metromile is a mediocre record of claims handling, in addition to the company only being available in seven states: CA, IL, NJ, OR, PA, VA, WA.
Because brokers work with a variety of insurance companies, they tend to have a broader understanding of companies’ offerings and key benefits. They are commission-based, which is a double-edged sword: they may be more motivated to earn your business year after year by getting you the best deal possible; or they may try to sell you a policy with unnecessary bells and whistles since that would pay them a higher commission. Regarding the double-edged sword: the best way to nail down the best deal possible is the annual review and re-shopping of coverage. The best way to avoid unnecessary “bells and whistles” is to remember that your needs guide what you purchase. If you don’t need “bells and whistles”, don’t purchase them. Approaching insurance this way is always the best way forward. Consider this: having options placed in front of you and explained in detail allows you the opportunity to hear about the newest “bells and whistles,” some of which may be just what you need or were looking for, but simply never asked about. Policies change, and new options are added by carriers all the time.
Only eight companies out of the 14 below made our top picks list. Those listed as “best for…” each stood out to us in a certain area, whether it was a unique coverage option, stellar customer service, or an easy shopping process. That said, the other half may have options that interest you. (For instance: If you have an auto insurance policy with one of these companies, you might want to consider bundling discounts.)
Progressive’s service varies heavily by state. As the company explains, “Insurance through the Progressive Home Advantage program is underwritten by select companies that are not affiliates of Progressive and are solely responsible for claims, including Homesite Group Incorporated, IDS Property Casualty Co., and ASI Lloyds, and their affiliates.” Basically, Progressive isn’t selling its own homeowners insurance, but has partnered with another company (the one that will pay your claim) in order to offer that insurance to its customers. If you’re already a Progressive customer, no need to stray. If you’re considering opening a policy with Progressive, though, be aware that your options for discounts and coverage will vary by state.
When it comes to online resources, don’t expect much information or assistance from MetLife. Its website is barebones, with nothing more than a seven-question FAQ and landing page. Also, only people in 10 states have the option to get a quote online. For those who like to do extensive research online before making a call to a sales person, MetLife won’t have the online presence to satisfy a purchasing decision.