Independent Agents vs. Captive Agents

What’s the difference, and is it important to me?

From the Desk of Tyler Doherty, CEO of Doherty Insurance Group

The biggest question I get as the owner – is what is the difference between an independent agency versus a captive agency. Captive agents, as the name suggests, means that they are captive to only one insurance company. You’ll see them as you’re driving on your daily commute. This is the State Farms, American Family, Allstate, and Farmers.

Independent insurance agencies are your more mom and pop agencies, the grassroots small businesses that service locally. Independent agencies represent over 30 different companies that don’t always spend millions and millions of dollars on advertising like that silly looking Gecko you see during the Superbowl. Your money instead goes to the growth of the local community. The pros and cons are this: independent insurance agencies are able to service any insurance need. The captive side of the fence is only really specialized in “standard” or “preferred” insurance. This means things like 3 cars and a home, with no tickets claims or accidents. Once you drop out of their preference with that speeding ticket or DUI, they cancel your policy without much warning and say goodbye, even if you are tenured and like your agent’s service.

Independent agencies can rewrite the policy within their agency with a different company that specializes in your new insurance need once an accident happens in order to keep your rate competitive. Another huge difference is that when your rate goes up, captive agencies don’t have another option, so they are incentivized to lower your coverage to keep your rate the same. All in the name of keeping the business instead of doing what’s right. Unfortunately this puts you at risk, and might not even be disclosed to you. When an independent brokerage like us encounters this problem, we simply re-quote the policy with our 29 other providers in order to hold that price increase accountable.

What sets up apart from others here at DIG is that we do not write the state minimum. In Arizona, the state minimum is rarely enough to cover an accident, and leaves people financially exposed. We believe this is unethical, and take a stance against it. That’s why every policy you see from Doherty Insurance Group will be at least double those coverages. Since we don’t have a big company and upper management telling us what to do, we can always make the best choice for our clients without feeling pressure to just write as much business as possible, regardless if the policies don’t fit the need. If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to us and we would be glad to discuss further.

If you’re ready to take the plunge and hold your agent or 1-800 number accountable, click below to get started.