When purchasing an individual health policy, which type of insurance agent (exclusive or independent agents) is the best pick?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: May 10, 2010

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Insurance Question from Jacksonville, FL

Asked on 05/10/2010

When purchasing an individual health policy, which type of insurance agent (exclusive or independent agents) is the best pick? NULL

Answer given on May 18, 2010

That’s more of a personal question.  An exclusive agent, since he or she only represents one company, should know most of the underwriting criteria for the insurance company they represent.  Plus, the agent will be able to offer your discounts for writing more lines of business (like home, auto, life, etc) with that same company.  However, that agent may not be able to provide you with the best value for your money.  If the name of the company behind the agent is more important to you than the cost, and if putting all of your business with the same company for the long term is what you’re looking for, go with the exclusive agent.

The independent agent represents several different insurance companies, but may not know specifically which company offers the best plan for you.  Since he or she represents so many companies, they may not be aware of the nuanes of each company, and which offers the better policy based on your medical history.  But, this agent will have more options for you to choose from. If shopping around and the better value for your money is more important than long term discounts, for example, is more important, then seek out an independent agent.

You also need to be careful with the independent agent.  Are they steering you to a specific company because the commissions are higher?  Hopefully not.  I like to think that there are tons more honest agents out there, but it is something to keep in the back of your mind.

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