Independent Agents have access to multiple insurance companies
If you go to a direct writer or a captive agent, they can only provide you a quote from ONE company. The policyholder must contact multiple companies in order to compare pricing. Some direct writers offer “price comparison tools” but these tools will only provide the published rates for other direct writers or captive agents. As a result, many of these companies need to sacrifice coverage to provide you with different pricing options.
Having the option to write your policy with multiple insurance carriers allows independent agents to do all the shopping for you. Policyholders need only to call one number and your independent agent can quote your policy with multiple carriers (including some direct writers) and can provide you options without sacrificing coverage.
But who are these companies?
Many times, an insurance proposal that offers the best coverage at the best price is from an insurance company you might have never heard of. Policyholders often ask: “…is this company any good? I’ve never heard of them before.” This is a legitimate concern, policyholders want to make sure an insurance company is financially stable and able to pay if they were to have a claim.
The simple answer is yes: any insurance company “admitted” to write insurance in the state of Rhode Island is protected by the state’s guaranty fund. These funds are administered by the state’s insurance commissioner through the department of business regulations and protect policyholders in the event an insurer becomes insolvent and is unable to meet its financial obligation. Therefore, if you write a policy with a direct writer, a captive agent, or independent agent the policyholder is protected by the state.
In special situations, independent agents can write a policy with “non-admitted” carriers. These companies are used for specialty or unique risks and are not backed by the state’s guaranty fund. The good news for policy-holders who need to write a policy with a “non-admitted” carrier is that most independent agencies (including Shove Insurance) exclusively write policies with “A” rated insurance companies. These companies are in “Excellent” or “Superior” financial condition and are very unlikely to become insolvent.
Why a company you never heard of might be a better option
Independent agents have the option to write your policy with many companies that you probably have heard of before: Travelers, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, Nationwide, etc. are all national brands that most independent agents have access to. These companies invest a lot into national marketing campaigns to build brand awareness and compete with the direct and captive companies. In addition, independent agencies also write with companies you may never heard of before: Selective, Main Street America, Arbella, Andover, Hanover, Providence Mutual, etc. Many of these companies are local or regional insurance companies that may offer a policy that is perfect for you.
If you live in Rhode Island, the names of some of these companies are familiar to you because they are in the local towns that bear their name. Because they understand the unique risks associated with writing policies in your area, they offer coverages that other national companies may not. Some of these companies are willing to write policies in areas (like near the coast in RI) that national companies avoid altogether. Others can employ local insurance inspectors that qualify their risks to ensure that they meet all their underwriting guidelines. This helps all their policyholders because if they have a good risk portfolio they can keep their rates much lower than the competition.
But what if I have a claim or a billing issue?
Policyholders might worry that if they have a claim or a billing issue a company they never heard of might not offer very good customer service. The opposite is often true about local or regional insurance companies. Local companies employ local employees, you don’t need to worry about being transferred to a call center in a different part of the country or a different part of the world.
However, if all else fails and for some reason you are unhappy you still have another option: call you independent agent. Independent agents represent both the company and the policyholder and are there to advocate on your behalf. Independent agents build relationships with the companies they represent and can negotiate for you if there is a claim or a billing issue. Independent agents write a lot of business with these insurers so the companies want to keep them happy so the will continue to write more business with them. If a single policyholder has an issue with a direct writer or captive agent they might have to go it alone waiting on hold and dealing with a different call center representative each time they are transferred to a different department. That same policyholder need only to call their local independent agent and they will deal with the issue and get back to them when it is resolved.
In the end you are paying for all that marketing and brand recognition one way or another. Whether or not your insurance company has a fancy TV commercial doesn’t help to get your claim paid any faster. Call Shove Insurance today and let us shop your policy to all the companies we have access to – even the ones you might never have heard of.