Unlike an exclusive agent, who sells only one insurance company's products, an independent life insurance agent represents more than one insurance company.
Independent agents can offer a wider choice of products because they're not tied to just one company, but exclusive agents, also known as career or captive agents, have the dedicated support of large, experienced organizations behind them.
Some independent agents work for a large independent insurance agency, or they have a solo practice with a small support staff.
Independent agents who specialize in helping applicants with medical conditions or risky hobbies are known as impaired risk specialists. These agents know which life insurance companies offer the most competitively priced products for applicants in these circumstances.
The underwriting process varies among life insurance companies. One company might offer better life insurance quotes for applicants with diabetes than other insurers, for instance. Some companies are more lenient for risky habits, such as cigar smoking, than others, and some insurers are more comfortable than others with covering people who have risky hobbies, such as scuba diving.
A good impaired risk specialist may inquire on your behalf about your particular situation before formally submitting an application for life insurance.
Whether you look for an exclusive agent or an independent agent, first get referrals from friends, colleagues and other advisers, such as your accountant. Seek for an agent with experience serving clients with needs similar to yours, and find one with whom you feel comfortable and can trust.
For more on impaired-risk specialists, see "Special-risk life insurance advocators."
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