Consumer Advisory: How to choose an insurance agent
Tips for finding the right agent for your insurance needs.
DENVER (March 8, 2019) – Selecting the right insurance coverage isn't just about understanding your choices and selecting the right policy. It can also be about finding the right insurance agent. As part of National Consumer Protection Week 2019, the Colorado Division of Insurance, part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), offers these tips to help you find the right agent for your insurance needs.
Independent Agent, Captive Agent, Insurance Broker — What's the difference?
When you start your search, you can pick an independent agent or a captive (or direct) agent. An independent agent may sell policies from many different companies. A captive agent sells insurance for only one company. Independent and captive agents represent insurance companies and receive a commission from the insurance company for the sale of its policies. For more complicated insurance transactions, such as coverage for a small business, you may choose a broker. An insurance broker represents your business by searching the local insurance market to find the right coverage for the best price. Because the broker represents you, they generally charge a fee for their services.
Selecting an Agent
Whether you're looking for your first agent or thinking about switching, it's a good idea to have several choices. When evaluating your options, consider the following.
- Licensing — Make sure the agent and insurance company are licensed to do business in Colorado. You can check licensing information on our webpage “Verify License / Company.” There you can you can verify the license of an insurance company, insurance agent or agency.
- Regulatory Actions - When you’re verifying the license of an agent, you can also see if the Division has taken any regulatory actions against the insurance agent or agency. Again, visit the webpage “Verify License / Company” to get started.
- Credentials — Many agents and brokers will have letters behind their names on their business cards. These represent designations or credentials they have earned from various insurance groups or associations. Ask them what these letters mean and what they had to accomplish to earn the credential.
Keep in mind, not all insurance companies use agents. These days, you can work directly with many companies online. Regardless of how you want to buy the policy, make sure the company is licensed to sell here in Colorado.
What to Expect
When working with an agent, what should you expect when you visit the agent's office to discuss your insurance needs?
- Choices: If you're using an independent agent, you should be offered choices of companies and coverages. Evaluate your needs and the options to make sure you are getting the proper coverage best suited to your situation.
- Honest Sales: You shouldn't feel pressured to choose an agent, a specific insurance company or policy. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
- Answers: If you have any questions about the quote or coverages you need, ask your agent and keep asking until you understand and are satisfied with the answers.
Remember, if you have any questions about your insurance or are confused by any part of it - the jargon, the paperwork or what an agent or insurance company tells you - contact the Colorado Division of Insurance. Our Consumer Services team can walk you through terminology, policies, and even what kind of questions to ask your agent or insurance company. Contact the Consumer Services team at 303-894-7490 / 800-930-3745 / DORA_Insurance@state.co.us, or visit our consumer website AskDORA.colorado.gov and find the insurance consumer topics.
The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues. Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745.
DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675.