Insurance Agent vs. Insurance Broker: What’s the Difference?

Quick Answer

Insurance agents and insurance brokers can both help you buy an insurance policy. But insurance agents represent the insurance provider that employs them and help sell policies from that single provider. Insurance brokers represent the consumers who use them and can help them shop for policies from multiple providers.

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Insurance agents and brokers each aim to connect consumers with insurance policies, but they primarily work for different parties. An insurance agent works for an insurance company, while an insurance broker works for a client.

Both agents and brokers can help with multiple types of insurance, including auto insurance, health insurance and more. Choosing between an agent and a broker will depend on your individual needs.

What Is an Insurance Agent?

An insurance agent works for a particular insurance provider—or possibly a few providers—and can help you choose a plan usually at no cost. They are experts on the offerings from that particular company. They can help you find the right policy offered by their provider.

Agents may work on salary and/or commission from the provider. Agents may be either captive or independent:

  • Captive agents work for just one insurance company. They may be directly employed by the company or work as independent contractors.
  • Independent agents can represent multiple insurance providers and compare policies. They work as independent contractors but are representatives of the insurance company.

Insurance agents can help choose and enroll you in a binding policy, meaning they are a one-stop shop.

What Is an Insurance Broker?

An insurance broker can help you shop for insurance policies from multiple insurance providers at no cost.

Brokers are skilled at comparing policies across providers. They can help you decide what kind of coverage you need and can afford within a budget. Guiding you through the enrollment process, brokers can help you maximize savings.

Brokers represent you, the consumer. They tend to work on commission or earn fees from insurance providers, making money when they help sell a policy. Their commission comes out of your premiums and may include an additional amount when you renew your policy.

Therefore, brokers are motivated to find a plan you'll be happy with long term. They typically work with many providers and are not required to sell you any particular policy, so you may feel more confident in their pick.

Though brokers cannot enroll you in binding coverage, they can help secure your policy through an agent.

What Are the Key Differences Between an Insurance Agent and Broker?

Knowing the key differences between an insurance agent and an insurance broker can help you choose the right assistance in your insurance policy search. Some of these differences are:

Insurance Agent Insurance Broker
Represents the insurance company Represents their clients
Sells insurance Does not sell insurance
Is employed or contracted by an insurance provider Works for consumers, not an insurer
Can help you shop for plans from a single or a few providers Can help you shop for and compare plans from multiple providers
Can enroll you in coverage Secures coverage through an agent
Works on salary and/or commission Works on commission from the insurer
Is generally free to consumers Is generally free to consumers, but may charge broker fees

Should You Choose an Insurance Agent or Broker?

When you are next shopping for insurance, there may be certain situations when an agent or broker is more appropriate. Consider the following scenarios:

  • You're too busy to shop around for a plan: Use a broker. If your main goal is to shop around through many providers' policies to find the right kind of policy and the right amount of coverage, opt for a broker. A broker can help you compare different types of coverage across different companies.
  • You already know which policy you want: Use an agent. If you already know exactly which policy you want, pick an agent. They can easily sign you up with no need to compare policies. Agents can enroll you in binding coverage themselves.
  • You want to see plans and quotes from multiple companies: Use a broker. If you want plan information and quotes from several different companies, a broker can help. They will collect, compare and assess which policies may work best for your needs and budget, and are not required to work with any one provider.
  • You know which company you want to purchase a plan from: Use an agent. If you have already picked a particular company you want to purchase a plan from, opt for an agent. They can expertly walk you through their provider's options.

Get Insured With the Right Help

Having an expert on your side to help you pick the right insurance plan and find the best price can be a big help. Both agents and brokers can save you time, headaches and money.

You can benefit from a similar service when you use Experian's auto insurance comparison tool. With this tool you can get quotes from over 40 top auto insurance providers in minutes. When you upload your current policy details, you'll get apples-to-apples coverage comparisons which can help you find the best savings on auto insurance. See what you can save when you try Experian's auto insurance comparison tool.