In the world of insurance professionals, there are generally two kinds of agents:captive agents and non-captive, or independent agents.
By definition, captive agents work exclusively for one insurance carrier and are obliged to give business only to that company. While some captive agents belong to affiliated groups of their parent company, the captive agent's priority is to develop business for the parent company above all others.
In return, the insurer usually provides its captive agents with an allowance for office expenses and benefits such as pensions, life and health insurance, continued insurance training and credit union membership. And, while maintaining an estimated 5,000 captive agents worldwide, the captive agent population has reportedly been on the decline.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, many insurance carriers are trying to contain business costs by shedding their captive agents and relying more on independent agents or direct marketing through the mail, by phone and on the Internet.
Despite the decline, many captive agent groups maintain that captive insurers are the simplest and purest forms of agencies, which will enjoy continued success by offering a wide variety of coverages—greater than the coverages available through independent agents and brokers, leading to longevity in an array of markets.
Is becoming a captive insurance agent right for you? Take a look at the benefits and challenges to find out.
Benefits of captive agents:
In direct opposition to captive agents, non-captive, or independent agents, represent multiple insurance companies and work on behalf of the client to find them a policy. Non-captive agents receive the majority of their earnings through the commission of policies sold, although they may also be compensated by their sponsored agencies.
While some non-captive agents are completely independent of a primary company, most non-captive agents report chiefly to one company, while still maintaining more selling freedom than captive agents. How?
As an independent agent of XYZ Company, the agent must report the majority of their business to XYZ. However, if XYZ is unable to sell a policy to a customer for any reason, the non-captive agent can then find the customer a policy through another affiliated insurer. Theoretically, non-captive agents are able to pick and choose the best policy for their clients.
And yet, despite the non-captive's flexibility, the road to success is not an easy one. Often times, independent agents are responsible for providing their own resources to start their business, and although the agent can work with multiple companies, they may still feel pressure to sell a healthy number of policies from one insurer in particular.
Are you ready to become a non-captive insurance agent? Take a look at the benefits and challenges facing independent agents.
Benefits of non-captive agents: