Life Insurance Agent
A life insurance “agent” is someone who typically works for a specific insurance company and sells their products exclusively. They are also often referred to as “captive” agents. You can recognize them because they will have a business card with an insurance carrier name emblazoned on it and they will show you only the products offered by that carrier. On the upside, working for only one carrier makes it easier for the agent to learn the particulars about a product and stay abreast of changes. On the downside, you are only going to see offerings from one carrier from the hundreds available and, thus, may not be buying your best option or product.
Life Insurance Broker
A life insurance “broker” can choose to represent many carriers and a wide range of products. They are often referred to as “independent” agents. Their card is more likely to contain an agency name and not mention any particular carrier. While offering many carriers products can be good, the challenge is finding a broker who can master knowledge and changes for multiple products. On the upside, they are free to shop the market to find the right product to fit your budget and needs.
Which One Is Better
I have operated as both a captive agent and as an independent broker in my career. In comparing the two experiences, I find the captive scenario to be somewhat of a conflict of interest where someone can be tempted to push a product that is less-than-ideal to make a sale. After all, if you don’t sell the captive carrier’s products, you go away empty-handed. As a broker, I personally like offering choice and competition without regard to carriers. I enjoy finding the right fit for them. I think it serves everybody’s best interest. One way to look at it that I have found helpful is: an agent works for the insurance company while the broker works for their clients.
I’ll let you decide which one you think is best for you.