Buying Insurance Direct vs. Through an Agent: Pros and Cons

Are insurance brokers cheaper? Not necessarily. Buying insurance direct vs. through an agent or broker comes with pros and cons. Agents may try to sell you more coverage than you need at higher rates to accommodate commissions but can provide useful assistance if you have questions when buying car insurance.

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UPDATED: 2024-05-12T19:36:49.383Z
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Things to Consider

  • You can buy car insurance indirectly through an agent or broker
  • Insurance companies let drivers buy policies direct online
  • Buying car insurance direct is the faster way to get coverage

Buying insurance direct vs. through an agent are the two common ways to get coverage quickly.

Is insurance cheaper through an agent? Drivers should evaluate their needs and learn about insurance agents to determine which option is ideal for them.

Can you buy insurance without an agent? Yes, but knowing the pros and cons associated with a broker vs. direct insurance is beneficial.

Is it better to buy insurance from an agent or online directly? Keep reading to learn how to buy car insurance through an independent insurance agent vs. direct buying options and how each may or may not suit your needs.

Pros And Cons of Using an Insurance Agent

Is it better to get car insurance online or through an agent? Many varied reasons exist to turn to an agent for help, especially if you have questions about:

  • High-risk driving records
  • Insuring multiple drivers or vehicles
  • Unique policies for classic or luxury cars
  • Membership or affinity discounts

When buying insurance through an agent, you will interact with either an independent agent or a captive agent. Both get you the insurance coverage you need and can help you understand your insurance options.

The difference between an independent and captive insurance agent is that independent agents have access to more companies and policies. Captive agents can only sell coverage from one company.

Is it cheaper to go through an insurance agent? You might be able to get cheap car insurance with an agent if you are looking for unique policy options and discounts.

Learn More: A Practical Guide for Understanding Car Insurance


Should I use an insurance agent? Here are the pros of purchasing insurance through an agent:

  • Captive agents are knowledgeable. Captive agents educate customers and help them understand car insurance, including state minimum insurance requirements, coverage options, discounts, and more.
  • Work with customers to identify their needs. Working with an agent can help you to know your needs and can ensure you purchase the appropriate type and amount of insurance.
  • Receive multiple quotes for comparison. Customers receive multiple quotes from different insurance companies when using independent insurance agents.
  • Customers receive additional assistance with managing their policies. After you purchase insurance, agents can further assist with policy updates, modifications, and renewals.
  • Personalized buying experience. Agents work closely with customers to learn their needs, so the buying experience is more personalized and focused.

Is it better to use an insurance agent? Even though insurance agents are trained to help customers buy car insurance, this doesn’t mean this option is without flaws.


Are insurance agents worth it? Here is a list of cons to using an agent to help you decide:

  • Lack of autonomy. You have little control over the purchasing process when working with an agent, which can cause a delay in securing a policy.
  • Agents motivated by commission. You could be convinced to potentially purchase more insurance coverage than necessary if your agent wants to make more money on the commission from a high sale.
  • Missed savings opportunities. Working with a captive agent who is unable to assist you with quotes from different companies or with switching insurance companies won’t help you find the cheapest insurance option.

If using an agent sounds like the way to go, you can connect with a local agent from the insurance company of your choosing to learn more about your options.

Insurance Broker vs. Agent

Is it cheaper to get insurance through a broker? Insurance brokers and insurance agents provide similar but different services for customers. The goal for both is to get the customer insured, but brokers charge a higher fee.

Unlike insurance agents who represent the provider, insurance brokers represent you, the customer. Brokers can shop with multiple companies to find you the best deal on car insurance.

Is it better to get insurance through a broker? Brokers focus on researching and locating the best car insurance company for a fee.

Below are the benefits of using an insurance broker vs. direct:

  • Increased chances of finding the lowest-priced insurance coverage. With a knowledgeable, experienced broker looking for the perfect insurance company for you, your chances of getting the lowest-priced insurance coverage are high.
  • Saves time for the customer. Since brokers shop around, customers do not have to spend time doing it themselves.
  • Personalized experience. Brokers work for the customer, so their focus is on finding the best insurance coverage, which requires them to get to know the customer, their needs, and their circumstances.

Do insurance brokers save you money? No, insurance brokers often cost more than using an agent or buying direct.

Consider your car insurance budget and the following risks of buying from an insurance broker vs. a direct purchase online:

  • Customers pay a fee for services. Insurance brokers earn a commission, but they are also paid a fee by customers for their services.
  • Delayed purchasing time. Using a broker can delay the purchasing process because customers must wait to purchase insurance until they get more information from the broker and compare costs.

Is it cheaper to go through an insurance broker? No. The main difference between getting insurance through a broker or direct is that you're paying for a catered experience with the broker.

You pay a higher premium using a car insurance broker vs. direct shopping because the broker will do the research for you to find the perfect policy and best discount.

Buying Car Insurance Online vs. Agent

Do you need an insurance agent? You might not have any questions about your policy and just need basic coverage. So rather than going back and forth and discussing every detail with an agent, customers can buy insurance direct from a company website.

Geico is one the most popular insurance companies without agents. Other national providers that allow drivers to buy online without an agent include State Farm, Progressive, and Travelers.

Buying insurance directly vs. with an agent requires entering some personal and vehicle information to get a quote. For example, to find out if Progressive direct is cheaper than through an agent, you'll have to visit the company website and provide your ZIP code, vehicle make and model, and driver details.

You may also want to try online marketplace, which allows you to receive multiple quotes at once and compare prices before purchasing.

After reviewing the quote and deciding what coverage options and limits work best, you can pay and get coverage immediately.

However, not all companies participate in online marketplaces. So if you're specifically looking to compare something like Progressive Direct vs. an agent, your best option is to visit the company website directly.

If buying directly interests you, consider both the pros and cons of buying insurance online vs. from an agent below.


Is it cheaper to buy car insurance online or through an agent? It can be, which is why many people choose to shop online for car insurance.

Scroll through this list for more perks to purchasing car insurance without an agent.

  • More control over the purchasing process. Agents handle most of the purchasing process for you, but when purchasing insurance online, you have the control, including selecting which company to receive quotes from and when the purchase will happen.
  • Quick, easy, and convenient. Your insurance coverage purchase won’t be delayed when buying online because insurance companies offer an easy-to-understand, user-friendly purchasing process.
  • More affordable policy. The cost of your policy may be less compared to the cost of the policy purchased through an agent.
  • No pressure to decide to buy from a particular insurance company. Customers are not pressured or tricked into purchasing expensive coverage they may not need.

Buying car insurance online is so easy you might be wondering, why use an insurance agent at all? While online car insurance is a straightforward process, it's possible you'll be missing out on a few things by choosing to buy insurance without an agent.


Is it better to go through an insurance agent? It can be, so consider the cons of purchasing car insurance directly from the company:

  • Risk of purchasing the wrong coverage. Without an agent to explain the diverse types of coverage, you run the risk of purchasing insufficient or unnecessary insurance coverage due to a lack of understanding.
  • Purchasing experience is not personalized. No agent is there to assist you when purchasing insurance online, so no personalized attention is provided.
  • Certain insurance agencies will not be an option. Larger insurance companies offer insurance online, but not every company makes their products available to customers directly.

If you decide purchasing car insurance online makes sense for you, we recommend getting quotes from a few different companies and comparing the types of coverage, cost of coverage, coverage limits, discounts, and more.

Buying Insurance Direct vs. Through an Agent: The Bottom Line

Is it cheaper to go through a broker for car insurance? Whether you buy insurance through an agent or direct from the provider, you’ll get the coverage you need. One option may be better or cheaper than the other, but this really depends on your individual needs.

Why do you need an insurance agent? You might have unique coverage needs, multiple vehicles, or a questionable driving history, all of which an agent is trained to help policyholders with.

But if you're wondering if it's cheaper to get insurance through an agent, that depends on where you live. Enter your ZIP code here to see how much car insurance costs near you, then compare your quotes to what a local agent can offer.

Once you figure out what you need and which option works best for you, then you'll know whether to buy from an insurance agent vs. direct from the company.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an insurance agent?

An agent is someone licensed to sell auto insurance in specific states. They recruit and guide customers through the auto insurance purchasing process as well as assist with policy management following the purchase. For example, customers can contact their agents for help with adjusting coverage amounts, adding or removing coverage, or renewing a policy.

Every insurance agent must be a high school graduate or a college graduate, depending on the employer. Additionally, a specified number of classroom hours and an exam must be completed to acquire a state license to sell insurance, specifically property and casualty insurance. Further education could also be required to maintain an active license status.

With agents, customers have a hand to hold throughout the buying process. Using certain details provided by the customer, agents can put together a quote and help complete the purchase of the insurance policy.

Should I buy insurance online or through an agent?

You can base your decision to buy insurance online or through an agent on your needs. If you need assistance because you are not familiar with insurance coverage types, limits, or anything else related to car insurance, you may opt to purchase through an agent. However, if you are comfortable and feel as though you know enough about car insurance, purchasing online makes sense.

Is it cheaper to buy insurance directly from the insurance company?

Sometimes it can be cheaper to buy directly from an insurer since the company didn't pay a third-party to process the sale or advertise. However, you'll get the cheapest car insurance rates if you compare quotes online before you buy.

Is it cheaper to buy insurance online or through an agent?

Insurance costs vary based on multiple factors, so it's important to compare car insurance quotes online from multiple companies. This gives you an idea of how much insurance costs in your area for similar drivers, and you can use the quote to ensure you get a fair price regardless if you're buying car insurance online vs. an agent.

What is the difference between an insurance agent and an insurance broker?

The difference between insurance agents and insurance brokers is that insurance agents work for insurance companies, do not charge customers a fee, and provide customers assistance with purchasing and managing their car insurance policy.

Is it cheaper to get car insurance through a broker?

Auto insurance brokers work for the customer and charge a fee for shopping around, locating potential insurance options, and assisting with the purchasing process. This fee raises car insurance premiums.

Do I need an insurance agent?

An insurance agent isn't required to buy car insurance, but they can help answer any questions you might have about policy options, discounts, or mandatory coverage.

Can you buy insurance without an agent?

Yes, you can buy car insurance online without an agent right here. Just enter your ZIP code above to get free car insurance quotes from local companies.

Is it better to get auto insurance through an agent?

If you want to use an agent, a local agent is best. They will have a better understanding of your area's insurance rates and necessary coverages.

Is insurance more expensive through an agent?

The price of insurance depends on your driving record, where you live, the kind of car you drive, and more. If you think the price an agent quoted you is too high, start comparing car insurance online to see what other companies can offer in your area.

Are independent insurance agents cheaper than captive agents?

While captive agents can only sell car insurance from one company or family of companies, independent insurance agents can shop with multiple companies. This makes it possible for them to find coverage at a lower price than some captive agents.

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