Let’s start with an analogy. Suppose you have just made a decision that it is time to buy a car and that, like me, you live in a thriving metropolis of 6000 people. There are two car dealerships, neither of whom have anything close to a large selection, and because we are in the boonies, neither offer what could be called competitive prices. Two hours away is a city of 600,000 with 20 or 30 car dealerships, fiercely competitive, and with every conceivable choice in stock.
Now I am a home town supportive kind of guy, but when it comes to a purchase as big and important as a car, I shop it. I find out the best thing available to me here at home and then I drive two hours and compare. Large inventory and better prices wins every time.
An independent life insurance agent is all about large inventory, more choices and better prices. Their opposite, the captive agent, writes for one company. Companies that have captive agents are historically overpriced and the agent knows that, but can’t steer you to a better price or they’ll starve. If they try to help you out by writing a policy that is better for you through another company, the may lose their job.
We’ve talked about all the different criteria that companies use to underwrite policies, like build, cholesterol level, hypertension, asthma, diabetes, and family history for example. With a captive agent you are stuck with one set of criteria. With an independent life insurance agent you may be working with as much as 40-50 different sets of criteria. In a previous blog I showed how the difference in underwriting between one company and another can easily mean a difference of 60%-70% in price.
A captive agent is generally licensed in one state. If you do business with them and move to another state, you become what’s known in the industry as an orphan. Sometimes you will be called by a new agent in your new state that is also a captive agent. Sometimes you never hear from anyone again. Most independent agents are licensed at least in multiple states. More and more you will find agents that are licensed in all states, so they can literally service your policy wherever you live.
So, why do I harp on the need to use an independent life insurance agent. Life insurance is an important purchase. We are talking about benefits that could affect your family’s future in a huge way. An independent agent can offer life insurance quotes that exactly meet your needs, at prices that cannot be met by captive agents. An independent agent can offer a wider variety of products, whether you are looking for term insurance, universal life or whole life, with better guarantees and benefits.
The question should really be why “wouldn’t” you use an independent life insurance agent.
This post is somewhat dated. Life insurance underwriting is changing and evolving continually. For more updated information check out some of the key word links. If you have a specific question or topic you need information for do a search. If you don’t find the answers you need contact me and we’ll make sure you get the information that is important to you.