Buy Insurance Online or from a Trusted Local Insurance Service?

March 20, 2018


Should you buy insurance from insurance agents or directly from insurance companies? The truth is that each has its advantages and disadvantages. To know which is best for your personal needs, you’ll need to explore the major differences between these options.

Insurance Agents

There are two main types of insurance agents: captive and independent. Independent agents like Mountaineer Insurance Services can sell  insurance from a variety of different companies and offer health insurance, life insurance, business liability insurance, and similar products.

An independent agent like Mountaineer Insurance Services can provide you with a rate quote from several insurance carriers allowing you to select the one with the lowest rates. Since they’re usually not receiving incentives for steering you toward one particular company or policy, the answers you get are likely to be objective and in your best interest.

A captive agent, sometimes called an exclusive agent, works for one particular insurance company. When you buy a policy from a captive agent, you create a relationship that lasts the duration of your policy. And perhaps even longer. Any time you have a question or need help with your policy, your agent will be there to help you.


This interaction with one person benefits policyholders because they have a personal representative when interacting with their insurance company. They can have someone to talk to the company on their behalf if something isn’t going in their favor. You can learn a lot from a captive agent’s responses to your questions about how policies work at their company.

Captive insurance agents have intimate knowledge of all the available policies sold. These policies could include discounts or favorable terms. Captive agents create customized policies for you, instead of cookie-cutter plans that don’t meet your needs.


A captive agent may be less forthcoming with information about other carriers than someone who isn’t on the insurer’s payroll. There’s little chance they’d recommend a competitor’s policy that would benefit their client more than their employer’s policy.

Buying Insurance Online

Do you need an insurance agent? Most insurance providers are now letting clients buy policies directly from them online or over the phone. Within minutes, you’ll have quotes on several policies and be well on your way to the coverage you need.


The process of getting a quote and choosing a policy can be lightning-fast. Your premiums will be slightly lower since you’re not using an agent’s services for most of your policy interactions.


The nature of the policies and quotes a company gives for direct inquiries can be more easily misunderstood. Users may not read the fine print or could become confused at their policy’s terms. This could keep a policyholder in the dark about the coverage they have access to. They may not even know what their real cost per month will be.

You may have to do a lot of work to compare real quotes from different companies. Agencies that advertise quote comparisons can “cherry pick” the numbers to make their policies look more better than their competitors.

Another issue is that direct customers do not have the luxury of a specific insurance agent working their claims. Companies that use direct buying options still have insurance agents in their employ. But specific agents are rarely assigned to handle a single client’s needs.

You may be talking to someone in a call center with limited knowledge or insight into your problem. Even when you’re able to talk to an agent, you may never speak to the same person twice.

In the end, buying insurance from a company directly may save you a few dollars a month. But as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for.” Using an agent, either independent or captive, can give you more insight into your policy options. And you’ll probably get better customer service.

 No matter what your unique insurance coverage needs are, remember that the company you choose will be with you as long as you need them.

Mountaineer Insurance Services wants to be that company, and with six locations within the state of West Virginia we can accommodate your needs. Come visit us for a free consultation.

Visit our web site: to find the location near you to talk to one of our specialists.