Bruce Sackrison

Bruce Sackrison is a Napa Valley Register columnist who will write about property and casualty insurance matters.

Last time, we took a look at the difference between buying insurance from the Big Guys vs. your local agent.

Did you realize that you have more than one choice when it comes to local insurance?

Basically, a captive agent works for just one agency. They are often limited to selling only the policies available through the company they work for but tend to be knowledgeable about the products their agency offers.

An independent broker, on the other hand, has access to multiple insurance companies. They can dig in, searching for the most affordable, specific policies that you might need, doing the “shopping around” for you.

Here are some examples:

Geraldine owns a flower shop in a busy district. She loves finding bargains and researching before making any big decisions.

When it came to choosing her insurance provider, she asked fellow business owners, searched online, and called around to see which agency would provide the best policies for her risks.

She decided on a prominent insurance company that was well established, working with one of their agents to customize a business policy for her shop.

Geraldine never had any complaints as Nancy, the captive agent who worked with her, was well informed and always happy to answer Geraldine’s questions.

When the flower shop window was broken by a vandal, Nancy efficiently helped Geraldine file her first claim and get the window replaced.

Vincent owns three properties: a mechanic shop, which is his main business, a golf course that his son maintains and a Christmas tree farm where his house is located.

He owns multiple vehicles, he deals with customers on a daily basis at all three properties, and he has expensive and potentially dangerous equipment and tools for all three businesses.

Vincent hates to spend any time researching for deals, so he was glad to find a local independent insurance broker early on when his mechanic shop was in the works.

Lyle was one of Vincent’s customers, often bringing his vehicles to be repaired at the shop. Lyle worked with Vincent to find the most affordable coverage from multiple agencies providing coverage for all Vincent’s needs.

When Vincent had questions about how to handle horse and buggy rides on the Christmas tree farm, Lyle found the best way to handle the risk. Vincent knew he was covered when his employee got in an accident with a customer’s vehicle.

Despite the unique risks Vincent faced, Lyle was able to find the right agencies with the coverages needed.

As you can see, both types of local agents can be useful in many situations.

If you are comfortable with a certain well-known agency that can provide the coverages you need, a captive agent may be right for you.

If you want a wider selection of coverage options, an independent broker with multiple agencies to choose from might be your best bet. If you have questions about any of your insurance needs, give me a call.

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Bruce Sackrison is an insurance property and casualty broker affiliated with Professional Insurance Associates. He is at 707-931-0186 or bruces@sackifs.com.