Broker, Agent or Online: Which is Best?

July 09, 2018

Agent Group talking

You’re ready to buy insurance, you’ve done your research and you want to get the best deal possible. How do you decide who to buy from? Brokers, agents and insurance websites all claim to offer you ‘the best deal’, but which one can deliver? Compare.com breaks down the pros and cons for each one.

Insurance Broker

Before we get into that let’s explain what an insurance broker is, exactly. Brokers work for you. You go to them and say “I want to purchase car insurance for the lowest price”. The broker then asks you what coverage levels you’d like, what you’d like your deductible to be, and so on.

The broker uses that information to get quotes from several different insurers. The broker negotiates prices on your behalf, using their expert knowledge of car insurance products to find you discounts and policies that work for you. They’re a jack of all trades when it comes to insurance shopping.

Pros of an Insurance Broker

The broker knows the product and knows the insurance company. They know which car insurance company really wants you as a customer, versus those that are indifferent, or those that don’t want you at all (no offence). The biggest pro is that you’ll get multiple quotes.

Cons of an Insurance Broker

While a broker may know a lot, they don’t know everything. Sometimes, when it comes to the nitty-gritty details of insurance policies and discounts, there may be some things with which they are not familiar. It’s also worth noting that you’ll likely pay more by using a broker as they are commission based. While you may get multiple quotes, you’ll be getting higher prices. Out of broker, agent and online, the brokers are most likely to go for the hard-sell.

Insurance Agent

Agents work directly for a given insurance agency. They are paid a salary and don’t work entirely off commission, unlike brokers. Buying from an agent is a very common practice and if you’ve bought insurance in the past: this is most likely how you did it. An agent is knowledgeable about their company’s products, policies and discounts.

Pros of an Insurance Agent

The agent will know just the right product for you and will be able to help you maximize your discounts. They’re licensed agents, which means that they have taken some pretty serious exams on insurance. While that may sound boring to you, but it means that they are experts in insurance coverage and can answer more detailed questions about your policy.

Cons of an Insurance Agent

Buying from an agent means you’re getting a single quote. To ensure you’re getting the best price, you’d need to speak to several agents from several different companies. This can be a long and tedious process.

Buying Insurance Online

You know the website, you type it into a search engine, complete a quote and you have a price in front of you. There are significant advantages to buying car insurance online. That is, purchasing directly through a site without speaking to agents or calling a hotline. You don’t need to talk to another human, you can do it any time you want and you can take as much time as you want.

Pros of Buying Online

When you buy an insurance policy online, there isn’t anyone making a commission off of that sale. Direct insurers also tend to have smaller staffs and less overhead, which tends to mean savings for you. If you also don’t like the hard-sell of a broker or agent, then this is a clear choice.

Cons of Buying Online

When you buy direct, you’re on your own. You don’t have an expert on hand to tell you where to look for discounts, additional savings, or whether or not another insurance company might have a similar product for a lower price. To find that out, you’ll need to get multiple quotes from multiple insurers which can take some time.

The Verdict: Broker, Agent or Online?

When it comes to buying insurance, there are pros and cons with all options. If you prefer the one-on-one interaction and personal attention of an agent or broker and don’t mind paying a little extra for their help, then we absolutely recommend doing that. If you’re looking for savings however, buying your insurance only from a direct insurance company might be your best bet.

A fourth option? Compare affordable rates with Compare.com. You can speak to an agent to get advice or buy online: whatever you feel most comfortable. The great thing about Compare.com is that you can compare quotes from multiple insurers at once; we even allow you to compare them side by side, saving you time and money. Take a moment and get your free quotes right now.

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