Working with an Independent Insurance Agent: Pros and Cons

How does an independent insurance agency work?

An independent agent is an individual licensed and authorized to sell different insurance companies' products to consumers. Because they’re not bound to one insurance company, they may furnish quotes from multiple insurance providers at once, providing an array of coverage options, services, and prices. 

Working with an independent insurance agent may come with some downsides, which we detail below. 

  1. Pros of Independent Agents
  2. Cons of Independent Agents
  3. Is an Independent Agency Right for You?


What is an independent insurance agent?

There are three ways to obtain insurance: from a captive agent who represents a single insurance company, online (direct), or via an independent agent. Big insurance companies are more likely to work directly with their customers because customers are already aware of their products via advertising campaigns. Allstate, State Farm, and Farmers each utilize captive agents to help sell products and service clients.

Independent agencies and agents work a little differently. Although the agents most commonly sell car insurance policies, licensed independent agents can sell any form of insurance, including renters, homeowners, and life insurance. The biggest benefit of working with an independent agent is fairly obvious — you work with one agent to get quotes from multiple insurance companies.

Depending on your state, vehicle, driving history, and company, your premiums may vary significantly. An independent agent can show you prices from different companies — giving you the power to choose.

If you have a bad driving record or are a non-standard insurance customer, an independent agent could be your best option for finding affordable car insurance. Non-standard customers typically have poor driving records, low credit scores, or another factor that indicates risk. Many smaller and non-standard companies work with independent insurance agents to find customers.


How independent insurance agencies operate

An independent agent has a set relationship with an insurance company in which they’re trained and authorized to sell the company's products. The agent's commission varies based on how they acquire and conduct their business, but their compensation usually comes via commission — much like a captive agent. 

Reasons not to work with an independent insurance agent

One downside of working with an independent agency is that many top insurance companies don’t work with them. You’re more likely to see companies with smaller marketing budgets working with independent agents than GEICO, Progressive, or State Farm. Companies like State Farm and Progressive don’t need independent agents to sell their products — their brand name and advertising budget does it for them. 

However, this doesn’t mean you’re getting the best rate if you shop with a big company for your insurance needs. The only way to know you’re getting the best price is to shop around. Using our comparison model, you can get quotes from insurance companies large and small. Enter your ZIP code below to get started.


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It's also worth avoiding independent insurance agencies that don’t provide you with quotes, instead displaying ads and selling your personal information. Here at The Zebra, we do not sell your information — we use your ZIP code and driving information to generate personalized car insurance quotes.

Is an independent insurance agency right for you?

If it’s a free service and the agency or company is not going to sell your information, working with an independent agency is a great way to get an idea of your insurance needs. If you’re a non-standard customer, i.e., a driver with a poor driving history or low credit score, you’re more likely to find coverage via an independent agent than via a big company alone. 

The Zebra works with an array of insurance companies to find a wide variety of coverage options at multiple price points. Our team of in-house agents can walk you through your insurance coverage possibilities to help you make the right choice.

If you’re interested in a no-hassle, spam-free quote, enter your ZIP code below.

Ava Lynch photo
Ava LynchSenior Analyst

Ava joined The Zebra as a writer and licensed insurance agent in 2016. She now works as a senior analyst, providing insights and data analysis as one of The Zebra's property and casualty insurance experts.

Ava’s insurance career began as an agent with Farmers Insurance. Over the years, she has become an authority in all things property and casualty insurance, helping her to write informative guides for shoppers.

Ava’s work has been cited in publications such as InvestopediaThe BalanceMoney.comLiberty Mutual, U.S. News & World Report, GasBuddy, Car and Driver and Yahoo! Finance.