Captive vs Independent

The Differences Between Independent and Captive Insurance Agents

  • Independent and captive insurance agents are key to the insurance industry, but each operates in their own different and unique way.
  • Captive agents are limited to the products offered by their specific insurance company. While they may be able to offer a wide range of products within that company, they cannot offer products from other companies. 
  • Independent agents have the flexibility to offer another carrier that is more competitive if first quoted carrier is too expensive.

Regardless of whether you’re a newcomer or a seasoned insurance professional, it’s important to understand the terms often used in the industry. Within the insurance space, there are two distinct types of agents: independent and captive. Each operates in different ways and have their own perks and drawbacks. In this blog, we will discuss their key differences and provide clarity as to how each type of agent operates. 

Independent Agents

Independent agents work for themselves and are responsible for building their own book of business. They typically have more flexibility in their operations than captive agents, who are bound by the rules and regulations of the insurance company they represent. Independent agents have more control over their client relationships and can provide unbiased advice as they are not beholden to any one insurance company.  These agents typically work more based on commission than salary. 

Captive Agents

Captive agents work for a specific insurance company and are typically considered to be employees of that company. They are trained on the products that their company offers and are incentivized to sell those products to clients. They tend to have less control over their client relationships and are more restricted in their operations than independent agents. Many times captive agents are paid on a salary basis because they don’t have ownership in the book of business they are building, and they act as an agency manager rather than the agency owner.

Key Differences

One of the key differences between independent and captive agents is the range of products that they can offer. Independent agents have access to a wider range of products, as they are not limited to the offerings of a single insurance company. They can offer their clients a variety of options, and can work with clients to find a solution that meets their specific needs. Captive agents, on the other hand, are limited to the products offered by their specific insurance company. While they may be able to offer a wide range of products within that company, many times cannot offer products from other companies.

Another important difference between independent and captive agents is the level of control that they have over their pricing. Independent agents have more control over the pricing of the products that they offer, as they are able to  negotiate with multiple insurance companies to find the best rates for their clients. Captive agents have less control over pricing because they are bound by the pricing policies of their specific insurance company.

Customer Service

In terms of customer service, independent agents may be able to provide a more personalized experience for their clients. They are not tied  to the rules and regulations of a single insurance company, and can, therefore, work with clients to find a solution that meets their specific needs. Captive agents, on the other hand,  may be more limited in their ability to provide personalized service, as they must follow the guidelines set by their specific insurance company.

In conclusion, there are a few reasons why someone might choose captive vs independent or vice versa. Independent agents offer a wider range of products, have more control over pricing, and can provide more personalized service. Captive agents have a more in-depth knowledge of the products offered by their specific insurance company, but are limited in their ability to provide a personalized experience for clients.

Here’s a quick table to summarize the differences between the two types of agents:

Independent Insurance Agents

Captive Insurance Agents

Affiliated with multiple insurance companies   

 Affiliated with a specific insurance company

Provides a variety of options

Limited to the products offered by their specific insurance company

Provides unbiased advice

May be incentivized to push certain products

Has more experience and knowledge of the insurance market

Has more in-depth knowledge of the products offered by their specific insurance company

Has more flexibility to obtain better rates

Limited negotiating power

Provides personalized service

May have to follow specific guidelines set by their insurance company



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