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Choosing a Local Agent vs. a National Auto Insurance Carrier

Choosing between a local agent and a national auto insurance carrier isn’t a difficult decision. You just have to know what you need and want out of your insurance experience. If you’d prefer to work with one insurance representative on every insurance related situation, choosing a local agent may be the best option for you. If you feel more comfortable conducting your own research and working independently, purchasing directly with the national carrier may be more ideal. The choice is yours.

The Local Agent

The local agent serves as the face of the insurance carrier. The agent is a person that you can call directly or stop by their office to discuss your auto insurance needs. The agent remembers your name, personalizes your services and provides individualized care, explanations and assistance whenever necessary. He or she may ask more in-depth questions to develop a more comprehensive policy for your needs and hopefully find more discounts for you. The local agent becomes a person you can trust with your insurance needs even when you have no idea what those needs are. The local agent might also be a non-captive agent that is able to sell and service policies for multiple insurance carriers. In these instances, the agent is able to provide you with competitive rates from various insurance carriers and sell you the policy that best meets your needs.

National Auto Insurance Carrier

The national auto insurance carrier provides many of the same services as the local agent, just on a mass basis. When you purchase directly through the carrier the carrier serves as your agent. If you have a question about your policy you will need to call a toll-free number or visit their website. You also may be able to view your policy online to review coverage documents or pay your bill. While you may encounter superior service, it is unlikely that you will speak to the same representative twice. And when it comes to the competition the national carrier may be able to provide you with quotes for their competitors, but the carrier will only sell their own policies and will never discuss specifics about their competition.


Auto insurance is all about protecting yourself and others from damages caused by accidents. No one truly wants to interact with their claims department; but if you do, you’ll receive the same claims service no matter which agent option you choose. The claims department services your insurance claim based on the specifics of the accident and the coverages involved. If the claims department has questions, the representative will contact you directly for the information, as do the service repair centers. If you have a local agent the agent can assist you in addressing any concerns and answering your questions. However, the claims representative is best able to answer questions directly related to the open auto insurance claim.

So which is it? Do you choose the local agent or the national auto insurance carrier? It really is a personal decision based on your needs and expectations. If you are unsure, shop around for insurance rates with local agents and national carriers. As you do, ask questions to get a feel of what future interactions will be like. There are no wrong or right answers, just the answers that work for you. If you decide that you don’t like your choice, set up a new policy using the other option and schedule a cancellation for the current policy.