What is an Insurance Agent?

Michael Pollick

An insurance agent, also called an insurance broker in some instances, is the local representative of any number of insurance companies. A legitimate insurance agency must be licensed by a state board before he or she can legally sell insurance policies to customers. Generally, an agent works as the local face of a single insurance company, but occasionally an independent agent may work with different companies depending on their areas of expertise and coverage.

Insurance agents may look at police and fire reports to determine if the property damage warrants a payout.
Insurance agents may look at police and fire reports to determine if the property damage warrants a payout.

Most consumers interested in purchasing insurance coverage will only deal with a local insurance agent directly. He or she is authorized to present all of the coverage options available through the larger insurance company. Since part of an agent's salary is based on commissioned sales, he or she will often offer one stop shopping for all of the customer's insurance needs. He or she may sell individual policies for car, home, life and medical insurance, or offer a package plan which incorporates a combination of these needs.

A good insurance agent may keep track of new developments in a client's life.
A good insurance agent may keep track of new developments in a client's life.

Insurance customers are required to make regular payments called premiums to the insurance company, so part of an insurance agent's job is to ensure compliance. He or she may send out reminders of an impending premium payment, or notify customers of any proposed rate changes. A good agent may also keep track of any new developments in a client's life — a new teen-aged driver or a new home, for example. Clients may need to change their coverage from time to time, so the agent will negotiate the new terms with the parent company.

An insurance agent may be able to assist a policyholder via telephone.
An insurance agent may be able to assist a policyholder via telephone.

Perhaps the most visible part of an insurance agent's job occurs during an actual insurance claim. Following a car wreck or natural disaster, for example, customers are urged to contact their local insurance agent as soon as possible. Claims for insurance benefits must be processed through an authorized agent who can verify the circumstances of the accident or disaster. A specialist called a claims adjustor may be sent out by the insurance agency to personally inspect the damage and calculate the value of the claim.

Insurance agents must be licensed before they can legally sell insurance policies to customers.
Insurance agents must be licensed before they can legally sell insurance policies to customers.

An insurance agent often acts as an informal arbitrator between the client and the parent insurance company. He or she may know the best ways to present a claim in order to elicit the most favorable settlement from the insurers.

Insurance agents help people file claims following a disaster.
Insurance agents help people file claims following a disaster.
Most consumers interested in purchasing insurance coverage will only deal with a local insurance agent directly.
Most consumers interested in purchasing insurance coverage will only deal with a local insurance agent directly.
Drivers involved in accidents are usually told to call their insurance agent as soon as possible.
Drivers involved in accidents are usually told to call their insurance agent as soon as possible.

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Discussion Comments

anon949192

If an agent isn't there for you after writing your policy, then you need a new agent. There are good agents and bad agents in the world. You will know a good agent if they are there for you after they become your agent. Do they help you with claims? Are they available to answer your insurance questions? If so, that is a good agent. If not, get a new one!

anon157917

The set up of this company is as follows:-

Provides travel insurance via website and through travel agents. Underwriters are in England. They sell, administer and underwrite on behalf of the insurance company.

Are they classified as insurance brokers and what are the travel agents then? --Totally confused

anon139651

Since insurance agents get commissions on what they sell, I have found they're not too helpful after the sale. They're happy to sit back and keep collecting their chunk of the premium year after year.

I was able to cut my auto insurance premium in half just by spending a few hours of my time surfing the web. I've never bothered with one since then.

sunshine31

Bhutan- I agree with you. I usually just buy home and car insurance.

I just have to say that I love my insurance agent. I have Progressive, and my agent moved quickly to resolve issues regarding my car accident.

It was my fault, but they had no problems with my claim and even coordinated my rental car until my car was repaired. Everything was completely resolved in two weeks.

Bhutan

Great article- I just wanted to add that my State Farm insurance agent tried to sell me a whole life policy, but I decided not to purchase the policy and went with a term life insurance policy instead.

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