Digital technologies and the internet make it possible to buy just about anything online. You can buy millions of retail products from Amazon. You can order your groceries online and have them delivered. You can even buy your insurance from a website. But despite the efficiency and convenience of online shopping, insurance brokers are still a valuable commodity. They still provide valuable services.
Fifty years ago, the only way to purchase any type of insurance was through an agent or broker. A broker is a licensed insurance professional who owns a brokerage; an agent is an employee or independent contractor who works for the broker. The two worked together to offer consumers their only access to insurance companies.
Things are a bit different today. However, the insurance broker and agent careers are still alive and well. So much so that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimated there were more than 325,000 active positions in 2021. California, Florida, and Texas are the top three states with the most brokers and agents.
Making Sense of the Complicated
Insurance is considered by government standards a sales-oriented business. Therefore, brokers and agents are technically considered sales agents. But truth be told, they do so much more than just sell insurance policies. They help make sense of an industry that is very complicated.
One of the main benefits of purchasing insurance through a broker is having someone explain the details to you. Your broker or agent can help you determine what type of policy is most suited to your needs. When you have questions about coverage, your broker can give you simple answers in everyday English. Without a broker or agent, you are left to try to figure it out on your own.
Brokers and agents also have access to insurance deals consumers cannot find by themselves. That is because not all insurance carriers sell directly to consumers. Some only work through brokers and agents. If you buy all your insurance products on your own, you will never see these deals.
Different Types of Insurance Brokers
Most of us think of homeowners insurance and auto insurance when the topic of brokers and agents comes up. They do make up the bulk of those insurance professionals consumers normally interact with, but they certainly are not the only brokers and agents in the business.
Benefits brokers are another type of insurance broker whose work affects most consumers. Strangely enough, consumers do not know much about them. In a nutshell, benefits brokers deal in employer group benefits rather than auto, homeowner’s, and umbrella insurance. Instead, their products include standard health insurance policies, dental and vision plans, prescription plans, and life insurance.
Benefit Mall, a Dallas general agency that acts as a broker for brokers, says today’s benefits brokers are even getting into ancillary benefits like retirement plans and Medicare supplements. Whether they go that far or not, their primary tasks are still the same: matching customers with policies and being there to answer questions and help facilitate claims.
A Very Complicated Business
Insurance is a very complicated business from top to bottom. It takes a lot to fully understand all the finer details. Since most of us do not have that knowledge, we either do the best we can or rely on professionals capable of making sense of it all. That is why insurance brokers are still such a valuable commodity.
Whether you work directly with insurance brokers or not, your life is impacted by what they do. Without insurance brokers and the agents that they employ, a lot of us would be left scratching our head