Let’s talk about the difference between an insurance agent and a broker. They are very similar and sometimes mean the same, but not always. Feeling confused? I know I did at first. Both agents and brokers require the same license. This means that to sell insurance, they must take a state exam to become licensed for their insurance expertise area. Health Insurance agents are typically certified in Health, Life, and Accident insurance – depending on their resident state requirements. Insurance agents can request the same licenses for other states as a non-resident license to enroll people in those other states. Insurance agents are only allowed to enroll people in insurance agreements where they are licensed and contracted with the carrier. To continue their profession, agents will have to keep their license valid by taken about 24 hours of continuous training every 2 years.

Now you know that all insurance agents are licensed. What is then the difference between an “Agent” and a “Broker”? Insurance brokers are contracted with multiple insurance companies and should show you insurance plans and quotes from numerous insurance companies. That way, you can compare various plans and decide which plan works better for you. 

Agents can be one of two things; either they are a broker but do not call themselves that, but frequently, it’s someone that works solely for a single insurance company. This means they can only sell one of the insurance plans from that insurance company. That is also called being a “captive” agent. How can you know that you are talking to a captive insurance agent? When they present plans all from the same insurance company, ask them if they have plans from other insurance companies. If not, they cannot be sure their product is “the best” on the market.

I am a broker. I work with a large insurance organization, which allows me to have access to many different insurance companies and their insurance plans. I stay up to date with changes in the market, and have many agents to ask questions when a client has a unique situation or request. In my experience, captive agents are rarely explicit about the limited options they provide to you. I recommend to find a broker and learn more about other plans before making a choice.

Remember, it is YOU that buys an insurance plan. Understand it, and decide what plans works for you, your health situation, and your budget. Part of my services is to explain the Health Insurance plan you have to you, and you can determine if that plan is still what you want to keep.