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Insurance Quotes: Independent Broker/Agent versus the Direct Writer/Captive Agent

When it comes to shopping for insurance, business insurance or personal insurance, there are a variety of options from many different providers. Where does one begin? There are two ways to obtain an insurance quote. Even if you’re self-quoting on a website, the quote is from:

  1. A Direct Writer/Captive Agent, or
  2. A Broker/Independent Agent.

What is the difference and how does it affect me, the policy holder?

A Direct Writer or Captive Agent:

  • Works directly with the carrier via an agent whom can only represent that specific carrier (such as Allstate, Geico, State Farm, Sentry, etc.).
  • Can only sell that specific carrier’s product.
  • Cannot shop insurance to other carriers.

As long as the direct writer agency is not competing with itself, they may seek an outlet for other types of insurance quotes, such as Cyber liability, Directors & Officers (D&O), Property liability or Workers’ Compensation insurance (Workers Comp). Typically, these are only written in the Excess/Surplus Market, which equals a big spend/cost.

A Broker/Independent Agency:

  • Shops around for the client to help them find the right combination of insurance value: Unique or expanded coverage options, service, relationship, and pricing.
  • Partners with many different insurance companies that specialize within industries and product type.

Independent Agents employed by a Broker Agency tend to have:

  • More insurance experience that is hands-on and covers a broader knowledge of the insurance market, such as unique coverage options, insurance laws, etc,
  • A broad-based knowledge of more than one area of insurance and its nuances.
  • Knowledge of market trends and ask probing questions to ensure they have a complete understanding of the client’s needs and to make suggestions for potential gaps in coverage.

As a result, an independent agent is more likely to act as an Advisor or Educator of coverage, trends, and solutions.

Who is better to work with?

I, personally, have been on both sides of the fence and the truth of the matter is that there are pros and cons to both.

  • As a Direct Writer, I felt confident in the product I was selling. However, I was subject to the limitations of my product and territory; making it difficult to support clients or referrals.
  • As an Independent Agent, I feel I bring more value to the table as an advisor. I am able to bring significantly more value by having access to more information, tools, and products through a network of valued partnerships.

Recap: What does it all mean?

For many people, quoting insurance is a headache. But it doesn’t have to be.

Just remember…

  1. Provide a direct writer or captive agent with your insurance information, and you will only receive a quote from that specific carrier/company. They do not shop other carriers (or only under rare circumstances).
  2. Provide a broker your insurance information one time, and they will take your insurance out to market with several companies and shop for the best value.

My recommendation would be to align yourself with the Agent/Advisor that you trust most to secure your assets and legacy for the generations to come! I am a career agent and I take much pride in helping individuals and businesses, like yourself, navigate through the uncertain times in life.

Are you ready to have a conversation? Give me a call at 630-470-0553 or email me at

Nicholas Ruud

Vice President of Business Products
Kamm Insurance Group
Direct: (630) 470-0553
Office: (630) 980-2127