What does a home insurance broker do?

A home insurance broker helps individuals find the best insurance policy for their budget and needs. A broker can also help you get quotes, compare them and buy a policy.

Stephanie Nieves author photo

Stephanie Nieves

Published August 6, 2020

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Home insurance brokers work with clients to find the best policies to fit their financial situation and needs

  • Unlike captive agents who represent a single company, home insurance brokers represent the client and will look across multiple insurers to find the best coverage for them

  • Brokers may be retail or wholesale, meaning they may work directly with the client (retail), or they may act as an intermediary between a retail broker and an underwriter at an insurance company (wholesale)

Finding the right homeowners insurance policy is no simple feat. The process involves everything from assessing your financial situation, to comparing quotes across multiple insurers, and eventually, to choosing the right coverage limits and add-ons. But even after all that, you’re not necessarily guaranteed a policy.

Home insurance brokers aid the process by working directly with you to find a policy that best meets your needs. After assessing your basic information and budget, they’ll search for policies from multiple insurers that offer the most coverage for the best price, and help you compare quotes and choose the right option. And in most cases, you don’t even have to pay them to do it.

While you don’t need a broker to buy a homeowners insurance policy, working with an experienced professional can help you save time and money in the long run. There are also many steps you can take before and after working with a broker to secure the best coverage.

IN THIS ARTICLE

What does a home insurance broker do?

Home insurance brokers work directly with clients to find the best home insurance policy to fit their needs. Essentially, it’s a home insurance broker’s job to understand your property and your financial situation and compare quotes and policies from several companies to help you find the best rate. Most brokers must be licensed in their state to sell any kind of insurance to individuals and businesses, and the licensing process usually requires them to take accredited courses and pass an exam.

In general, there are two types of home insurance brokers: retail and wholesale. A retail home insurance broker communicates directly with clients and submits applications to multiple insurers for home insurance quotes and policies on their client’s behalf. Wholesale insurance brokers liaise between retail brokers and insurance company underwriters who assess the risks of providing coverage to interested buyers.

If you’re looking for a home insurance broker, you can usually get a referral through your mortgage servicer, or you can shop for home insurance and compare quotes right here with Policygenius.

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Home insurance brokers vs. agents

Both home insurance brokers and agents aim to understand their clients’ situation and support their needs, but brokers and non-captive agents usually represent an insurance shopper, while captive agents generally represent a single insurance company.

If a home insurance agent is captive, it means that they can only sell policies from a single company while non-captive agents work with more than one company. Home insurance brokers can also be classified as non-captive agents since they work with multiple insurers to find the best coverage for an interested buyer.

Captive and non-captive agents typically don’t have the authority to underwrite or provide temporary insurance to clients, but managing general agents (MGAs) usually do. MGAs are specialized agents or brokers who can negotiate contracts with insurers including underwrite, bind coverage (or provide temporary insurance until a client’s policy is in-force), and settle claims.

Similar to home insurance agents, home insurance brokers also come in two different types: retail and wholesale. Retail home insurance brokers work directly with clients, while wholesale brokers collaborate with retail brokers and insurance companies.

Buying insurance through a broker ultimately means staying in the loop with them throughout the process, as they find affordable quotes for you and help you compare options.

Since captive agents represent a single company, they can only send you the best rates within that company. Captive agents may also be required by their insurance companies to sell a particular policy or achieve certain internal goals.

If you’re looking for details about a policy with a specific insurer that only sells policies through their own agents, then a captive agent at that company would be the best person to talk to. But if you’re shopping around for the best coverage at the lowest rate, then a home insurance broker or any other kind of non-captive agent can help you evaluate policies across several different carriers.

How do home insurance brokers make money?

Even though home insurance brokers work with clients, they’re typically not paid by them. That means that if you work with a broker to buy homeowners insurance, you won’t need to pay them a fee for their services.

Instead, they make their money through commissions based on sales. Commissions vary, but they're generally a percentage of the premium cost. In many cases, brokers may receive an additional commission if you renew your insurance plan, incentivizing them even further to make sure you’re satisfied with your coverage.

Pros of using a broker to buy homeowners insurance

While you can certainly apply for homeowners insurance on your own, shopping around can be challenging. You may run into conflicting or inaccurate information online, and it can be hard to know exactly what kind of coverage you need. Below are some of the ways a home insurance broker can help aid the process:

  • Brokers will listen to your needs and compare multiple policies across several different companies on your behalf
  • You can submit your information once with them and get back multiple quotes from different companies, rather than having to input it again and again
  • Brokers work with multiple insurers and aren’t generally aren’t paid by their clients
  • Home insurance brokers keep all your information on file which could be useful if your application gets declined
  • A broker can easily re-submit your application or reuse your personal info across multiple applications if you need different or more coverage

Cons of using a broker to buy homeowners insurance

Working with a home insurance broker can save you lots of valuable time and money in the long run — but not always. Here are some things to keep in mind before you hire a broker:

  • Home insurance brokers are essentially salespeople, so the more expensive a policy you buy, the more commission a broker gets paid — a good broker won’t sell you more insurance than you need and will even help you avoid overpaying
  • Untrustworthy brokers might pull you into a homeowners insurance policy that offers way more coverage than you need for a higher premium than you should be paying

Before working with a broker, you should confirm their licensure online and read any reviews they have to make sure you're working with someone you can trust. You can also use our homeowners insurance calculator to gauge how much insurance you actually need before comparing quotes and policies.

About the author

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves

Insurance Expert

Stephanie Nieves is an Insurance Editor at Policygenius in New York City. She has a B.A. in writing and rhetoric and previously worked as an SEO & Editorial Associate. Her words can also be found on PayScale, Fairygodboss, and The Muse.

Policygenius’ editorial content is not written by an insurance agent. It’s intended for informational purposes and should not be considered legal or financial advice. Consult a professional to learn what financial products are right for you.

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