When Should I Use an Insurance Agent?

Quick Answer

You should use an insurance agent when you know which insurance provider you want to purchase a plan from but want help picking or administering a policy and navigating its signup process.

Customer shaking hands with smiling insurance agent

You should use an insurance agent when you know which company you want to purchase a policy from but want help enrolling. Insurance agents are experts in the offerings from the insurance provider for which they work. They can help you get quotes, compare and contrast policies and file claims.

Here's what to know about when to use an insurance agent.

What Does an Insurance Agent Do?

An insurance agent can help you find and sign up for an insurance policy. Insurance agents typically represent one or more insurance companies. Each time they sell a policy from the company they represent, they earn a commission.

Insurance agents can help you with many tasks, including:

  • Putting together the right combination of coverage to meet your needs at a cost you can afford
  • Managing the paperwork to enroll in policies
  • Handling coverage updates throughout the policy term
  • Doing the legwork associated with a claim

If you plan to shop for multiple policies from a single provider such as auto, home and life insurance, having an insurance agent coordinate your policies and associated paperwork can be convenient.

However, if you're looking to compare policies from different companies or manage your enrollment process yourself, an insurance agent may come with some drawbacks.

Pros and Cons of Using an Insurance Agent

Pros Cons
Agents can help you compare policies and choose the most appropriate from their company's offerings Agents typically cannot compare policies across multiple providers, as a broker could
Agents are experts in their company's offerings Agents may not be able to find the most affordable plan out there, as they only have access to their company's information
Agents can help you at no extra cost Agents work on commission and may be motivated to close a sale
Agents can handle the paperwork involved in signing up for a policy or filing a claim

Should You Use an Insurance Agent?

There are times when using an insurance agent makes sense. One may be when you are new to purchasing insurance and want help. As a new homeowner looking to bundle home insurance with car insurance for the first time, an agent may offer essential, invaluable aid.

Another time to use an insurance agent is when you are set on a particular insurance provider but searching for a certain policy. When you already know who you want to buy from but not what you want to buy, an agent can help.

Finally, an insurance agent might make the most sense when you don't want to have to manage any of the paperwork associated with your policy. An agent can help with signing up or adjusting your policy. They can also do a lot of the legwork if you ever have to file a claim. For many, having an insurance agent is a major convenience.

Alternatives to an Insurance Agent

If you decide not to work with an insurance agent, you have some other options that can meet your insurance shopping needs. Consider trying:

  • An insurance broker: If you like the idea of an insurance agent but want someone who can compare policies among multiple providers, try an insurance broker instead. An insurance broker can help you choose the best policy between many different insurance offerings because they work more independently.
  • DIY-ing insurance shopping: When you're shopping for insurance online, you don't have to go to each provider and get an individual quote unless you choose to. Instead, you can use an aggregator site that gives you multiple quotes and policy comparisons all at once.

Whether you want help and what kind of help you need during your insurance shopping process will depend on personal preferences, but working with an agent can be a good place to start even if you just have questions.

The Bottom Line

Using an insurance agent can be a great idea if you're just getting familiar with the type of policy you need. They can help administer your policies and the signup process.

There are also good alternatives to an agent that may be a better fit for you, too, such as using a broker or enrolling in a policy on your own. Whichever process you choose, there are many tools to help you find the best policy for your budget and needs.

One tool is the Experian auto insurance comparison tool. You can use the tool to compare plans to your current policy or shop for a new one. Get quotes in minutes from top providers so you can compare them yourself, apples-to-apples.