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Independent NY Insurance Agencies Vs. The Captive Agency Experience

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  • Independent NY Insurance Agencies Vs. The Captive Agency Experience
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Choosing between a NY independent and captive insurance agency.
Learn about the major differences between an independent and captive insurance agency and how choosing right can save you a whole lot of money.

Shopping for NY car, home, or business insurance can be a frustrating experience for people who are not in the business. Who can I trust? Who has the best rates? Who has the best customer service and claims experience?  Do I go with an independent or captive insurance agency?

A captive insurance agency is one which is contracted to work for a single insurance company and is obligated to sell only that insurance company’s policies. On the other side, independent insurance agencies are not contracted to work with any one single insurance company as they are contracted with several insurance companies on a non-exclusive basis. Therefore, independent agencies have the ability to offer more options for coverage and pricing than a captive agency.

Most of the insurance advertising you see, particularly with the constant TV ads, are from the big national insurers that are contracted with local captive agencies. You might have noticed that most of the ads do not relate to insurance hardly at all, instead relying on clever humor, mascots, and jingles for branding purposes. Are these ads effective? Yes, in fact, they are, as these national companies account for the lion share of customers, particularly relating to auto and home insurance clients. Branding builds familiarity and trust on the surface but may not reflect your true experience with that company. Do these ads promote the best interest of their current or potential new customers? In our opinion, no, as you have very limited options working through a captive agency and can end up paying more than you should or receive less coverage options than you want or need.

In a nutshell, their advertising has little or nothing to do about coverage, products, service, or what you can expect from them. So, say you end up getting your car and home insurance through a captive agency without getting comparison quotes with an independent agency and your premiums rise significantly at every renewal even though you’ve had no claims. You call your agent about the high premiums and guess what? She can’t help you out because the agency only has one product.  Or, say you have a bad experience with the company customer service or a claim and want to have your agent move you to a different insurer. Guess what? Same thing, your captive agent can’t change your insurer as they only have access to the one you’re in, and not happy with.

We’re not saying that you’ll have a bad experience with a captive insurance agency, there are many fine agencies in the Capital Region and all of NYS that provide excellent service with good agents. We’re just saying these agencies are limited in what they can do for you in regard to rates or other insurer options.

Our roots come from actually being a captive insurance agency with a fine national insurer for many years.  But now, as a fully independent agency, we have the ability to utilize our hand picked roster of national and regional insurance companies, and feel that our customers are best served. Not only do we shop for the best car, home, and business insurance quotes from multiple insurers to find the best deal and needed coverage we also have the ability to easily switch insurers for our clients if they are unhappy for any reason.

In many ways it’s like shopping for a car.  Would you rather shop at a dealer that has only one make and model of car, or one with multiple models and multiple features?

If you have any questions regarding available insurance options, please contact us, we’re always glad to help.  The NY Insurance Hub serves Albany, Schenectady, Troy, Latham, Cohoes, Watervliet, Clifton Park, Saratoga Springs, surrounding Capital Region areas and all of New York State from NYC to Buffalo.