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What is an Independent Insurance Agent?

Article Details
  • Written By: D. Jeffress
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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The insurance industry depends on skilled agents to help people determine and purchase policies for life, health, and property insurance, among many other types. Some agents are employed directly by insurance companies to sell specific policies to individuals and businesses, though many experts choose to work as independent insurance agents, professionals who research coverage plans from several providers and assist clients with finding the best ones. An independent insurance agent, also known as a broker, advertises his or her services, meets with insurance company representatives as well as clients, sells policies, and settles claims.

An independent insurance agent might be self-employed or work for a small firm with other agents who sell various types of policies. Professionals market their services to different individuals and businesses by placing advertisements in newspapers, local publications, and online, and networking with companies and other agents. When hired, agents interview their new clients and gather information about their ages, health histories, and previous policies. Agents ask clients to explain their preferences and set a maximum rate they are willing to pay. With such information at hand, experts go to work researching potential policies and talking with professionals at different insurance companies.

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Once a policy has been decided upon by a client, the independent insurance agent makes sure that all paperwork is filled out properly and makes a detailed record of the sale. He or she handles any questions from clients regarding policy decisions, and is often the first person contacted when a claim is to be filed. The independent insurance agent can help clients understand claims procedure and help to represent them in receiving compensation.

The freelance nature of the job means that the majority of brokers are paid on a commission-only basis: the more clients they are able to satisfy, the more they are compensated for their work. It is common for an independence insurance agent to work long or irregular hours to meet the needs of his or her client base. In addition, many professionals spend a great deal of time traveling to meet with clients and industry representatives.

An individual must meet educational and licensing requirements to become an independent insurance agent. A hopeful agent is usually required to hold a bachelor's degree or higher in finance, business administration, or a related field. Some professionals, however, are able to find work with only high school diplomas. Most countries and states require agents to pass stringent licensing exams to sell specific types of insurance, which test individuals' knowledge of local insurance laws, ethics, policy types, and records-keeping procedures.

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