Like most small business owners, you probably purchase your insurance policies through an insurance agent or broker. The functions performed by insurance agents are similar, but not identical, to those performed by brokers. This article will explain how they differ. It will also explain how agents and brokers make money from the premiums you pay your insurers. Except where noted, the following discussion applies to agents and brokers selling property/casualty insurance.
I read the comments about the topic of my article and I see that some responses touch on the "middleman" in ways that suggest some things about those who reside "in the middle." One plus for us "middle" people is that we get to hear things from carriers that those on the retail buying end may not ever hear. Sometimes, when dealing with us "middle" people, you get a behind the scenes look at things that may have a bearing on your coverage. With life insurance through a broker vs an agent, you get to know that impaired risk underwriting (for unhealthy applicants) has a particular kind of nuance. For instance, carriers may decline your application because they take on a set number of impaired risk clients, and then they decline those coming after that. You might think, after being declined, that what they are telling you is "you are done, no life insurance for you." But, what I know from experience is that another carrier or two have not hit the limit yet on declines - and that might be the avenue of approach to get you approved. As a broker, I know things that apply across a broad spectrum of carriers, not just the playbook of one carrier. As a result, the market intelligence of this "middleman" can improve the experience of buyers by finding a way forward for them that is outside the boundary of what a retail buyer might ever know. One thing that I did not mention in the article is that I have been both a captive and a broker, and the experience allows me to see the pluses and minuses in both. Thank you for your responses, and if you have a question about insurance of any type (my specialties are life, Health, Disability, and Annuities) you may post it at MoneyTips.com and let the professional community respond to it. It's free, harmless, informative, relatively instant, and a bunch of other good things, too.

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2Partial withdrawals and surrenders from life policies are generally taxed as ordinary income to the extent the withdrawal exceeds your investment in the contract, which is also called the "basis." In some situations, partial withdrawals during the first 15 policy years may result in taxable income prior to recovery of the investment in the contract. Loans are generally not taxable if taken from a life insurance policy that is not a modified endowment contract. However, when cash values are used to repay a loan, the transaction is treated like a withdrawal and taxed accordingly. If a policy is a modified endowment contract, loans are treated as a taxable distribution to the extent of policy gain. On a modified endowment contract, loans, withdrawals and surrenders are treated first as distributions of the policy gain subject to ordinary income taxation, and may be subject to an additional 10% federal tax penalty if made prior to age 59½. Loans, if not repaid, and withdrawals reduce the policy's death benefit and cash value.
Securities and investment advisory services offered solely through Ameritas Investment Corp. (AIC). Member FINRA/SIPC. AIC and The Business Benefits Group / IFG are not affiliated. Additional products and services may be available through The Business Benefits Group / IFG that are not offered through AIC. Securities products are limited to residents of Virginia. This is not an offer of securities in any jurisdiction, nor is it specifically directed to a resident of any jurisdiction. As with any security, request a prospectus from your Registered Representative. Read it carefully before you invest or send money. A Representative from The Business Benefits Group / IFG will contact you to provide requested information. Representatives of AIC do not provide tax or legal advice. Please consult your tax advisor or attorney regarding your situation.
In the same vein of guaranteeing robust policies, we also wanted to see a range of endorsements (optional provisions that extend coverage in various ways). The more endorsements offered, the greater the possibility of filling in any gaps that your home and location demand. Earthquake coverage, for example, is a common endorsement for Los Angeles homes.

Internationally known financial adviser Suze Orman strongly believes that if you want insurance, buy term; if you want an investment, buy an investment, not insurance. Don't mix the two. Unless you're a very savvy investor and understand all the implications of the various types of life insurance policies, you most likely should purchase term life insurance.
Using a broker can also simplify the process of picking insurance. There are so many different choices for insurance, with different limits and exclusions for each policy. It can be difficult to know which insurance and what level of coverage is right for you or your business. This is where an insurance broker can help. Using their experience in the field, a broker can analyze your risks and liabilities to determine exactly what coverage you need. With access to a variety of technology-based tools, brokers can make it simple to compare various options to determine which policies would best fit your needs. Using a broker eliminates the stress of learning about different types of insurance, and makes it easy to figure out what insurance will work for you.
If you’re in bargain-hunting mode, Liberty Mutual may be a good place to look for homeowners insurance. It offers a long list of discounts — matching leading companies like State Farm, Allstate, and Nationwide in number — that includes some hard-to-find options we appreciated. For instance, Liberty Mutual is one of only two companies on this list, along with the Hartford, that will cut you a deal if you insure your house for 100% of its value. Other unique discounts include savings for new homes, homes with new roofs, first-time insurance buyers, and customers that set up autopay or pay online. 

Medical Payments – Helps pay emergency medical bills if someone is injured on your property. It also covers any injury caused by a member of your family or your pet regardless of where it happens. Bills are paid, up to policy limits, whether you're legally responsible or not. This coverage is needed for something as simple as a guest tripping and falling down your staircase. Homeowner’s liability insurance can help when you are left to pay the medical bills.**
Unlike GEICO, Esurance, and other “direct writers”, independent agents are a part of your community and are there to help whenever you need it. Unlike American Family Insurance, Farmers Insurance, State Farm Insurance, and other “captive” agents, an independent insurance agent works with many different insurance companies. Atlas agents automatically compare quotes from up to 50, which saves you time & money.

When a mortgage is requested on a home, the homeowner is required to provide proof of insurance on the property before the lending bank can issue him or her a mortgage. The property insurance can be acquired separately or by the lending bank. Homeowners who prefer to get their own insurance policy can compare multiple offers and pick the plan that works best for their needs. If the homeowner does not have their property covered from loss or damages, the bank may obtain one for them at an extra cost. Payments made toward a homeowners insurance policy are usually included in the monthly payments of the homeowner’s mortgage. The lending bank that receives the payment allocates the portion for insurance coverage to an escrow account. Once the insurance bill comes due, the amount owed is settled from this escrow account.
Ideally, you should base your property coverage limits on how much it would cost to rebuild your home. That's sometimes the house's current market price, but it could climb higher. You should consider insuring over market price if your house is older, you've got other structures on your property (like a shed or four-car garage), or construction costs in your area run high, for example.

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An insurance broker is experienced in different types of insurance and risk management. They help individuals and companies procure insurance for themselves, their homes, their businesses or their families. Brokers may focus on one particular type of insurance or industry, or they could provide advice on many different types of insurance. They provide a service to their customers in helping them find and buy insurance — usually at no cost to their client.
In Australia, all insurance brokers are required under the Financial Services Reform Act 2001[10] to be licensed by the federal government’s Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).[11] Reputable and experienced insurance brokers in Australia will generally also hold additional qualifications such as a certificate or diploma in financial services which requires the completion of in depth studies in a specific area, the most common being general insurance or insurance brokering.

Insurance agents have a responsibility to the insurance company.  Agents act as the insurance company representative in the buying process as they are typically salaried employees.   Most insurance agents are “Captive” to represent only one company, such as: Allstate, State Farm, Farmer, etc.  Because they are contracted as captive insurance agents, they are not able to discuss or recommend other insurance companies.  

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Universal life insurance is a type of permanent life insurance designed to provide lifetime coverage. Unlike whole life insurance, universal life insurance policies are flexible and may allow you to raise or lower your premium payment or coverage amounts throughout your lifetime. Additionally, due to its lifetime coverage, universal life typically has higher premium payments than term.

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Agents and brokers act as intermediaries between you (the insurance buyer) and your insurers. Each has a legal duty to help you obtain appropriate coverage at a reasonable price. Each must have a license to distribute the type of insurance he or she is selling. An agent or broker must also adhere to the regulations enforced by your state insurance department.

SelectQuote Insurance Services is not obligated to monitor any transmission made through the respective web pages and newsgroups. However, SelectQuote Insurance Services has the right, but not the obligation, to monitor any transmission made to and for this website. SelectQuote Insurance Services may use or disclose information gathered from the site.

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Through these educational requirements and experience in the field, brokers gain a significant level of knowledge in insurance. They are well informed about specific types of insurance and how claims of a particular type are covered. For example, a broker can explain to an individual exactly what types of risks a homeowner’s insurance policy will cover and what it will exclude (such as acts of god, intentional acts, negligent acts, slip and falls, loss of theft of valuable items, etc.). With this knowledge, clients can make better informed choices about what type of insurance they need, along with how much coverage is necessary. This is a broker’s job: to help clients understand the liabilities that they have and how those risks can be adequately managed through insurance. Brokers can then help clients review a number of insurance options to pick the policy and premium that best fits their needs and budget.
When it comes to educating prospective buyers about the intricacies of homeowners insurance, Allstate stands out. Allstate’s website contains a library of best-in-class resources — everything from articles and videos to quizzes and infographics. Particularly impressive is the Common and Costly Claims tool that lets shoppers type in their ZIP code to see the most common claims in their region, complete with average dollar amounts for those claims. There’s also a startlingly realistic GoodHome home report that plays a Google Street View video of your home (or potential home) as it enumerates potential risks and gives local hazard data, plus prevention tips. Tools like this make it simple to understand which areas of coverage you may want to increase or supplement because of geographic or neighborhood risk.
Base commission is the “normal” commission earned on insurance policies. Base commission is expressed in terms of a percentage of premium and varies by type of coverage. For instance, an agent might earn say, a 10 percent commission on workers compensation policies and 15 percent on general liability policies. Suppose that you purchase a liability policy from the Elite Insurance Company through the Jones Agency, an independent agent. Jones earns a 15 percent commission on general liability policies.

When shopping for insurance, there are several key things that customers look at, including cost, speed, ease, security of personal data, and peace of mind that all essentials are covered. Working with an insurance broker can help get you the insurance you need at the best price. Brokers deal with a wide range of products and services and have the qualifications needed to recommend the policies that best suit your needs. As most brokers work for smaller companies that represent big insurance companies, the service is typically more personalized, meaning better quality support.


Homeowners insurance is there to protect you in the event of a disaster, not to cover normal wear and tear. A home warranty, on the other hand, covers the mechanical breakdown of appliances and systems in the home, like the refrigerator, the washing machine, and the electricity and plumbing that make them run. If that sounds like something you want, check out our review of the best home warranty.

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Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of a lower price. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.
Products underwritten by Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company and Affiliated Companies. Not all Nationwide affiliated companies are mutual companies, and not all Nationwide members are insured by a mutual company. Subject to underwriting guidelines, review and approval. Products and discounts not available to all persons in all states. Nationwide Investment Services Corporation, member FINRA. Home Office: One Nationwide Plaza, Columbus, OH. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and other marks displayed on this page are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, unless otherwise disclosed. ©2019. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

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