Last Updated: January 2, 2023

Captive Agent: Hidden Pros And Cons of Becoming One

A captive agent, as opposed to an independent agent, works for only a particular insurance company. They are salespeople at an insurance company. They work on a salary as well as a commission basis. If you are starting as an insurance agent, you are probably vaguely familiar with the two types- captive and independent.

A general trend in the insurance industry among agents is that they start working as captive agents. After they have experience and understanding of the market, they move on to work as independent agents. While working as an independent agent is preferred more, being a captive agent has its benefits. But like anything ever, it also comes with some flaws.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, there were 3061 captive agents in 2021 in the U.S., as per the data published in March 2022. Are you planning to add to the number?

Here are some pros and cons of becoming a captive agent that you should consider before applying for a job.

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Pros of Becoming a Captive Agent

Guidance from Established Firms

As a captive agent, you will be working for insurance companies that are stable and have been in the field for at least a while. This is a great way to get your feet wet before you dive in. The bigger companies often provide their agents with training sessions along with many resources. Along with that, they are also provided with leads.   

Parent companies also tend to provide marketing and advertising tools to their agents. They allow you to invest in promotional campaigns if they are well strategized. The best thing about working with a big company is the shared experience you are likely to receive from your senior co-workers.   

Financial Safety Net for a Captive Agent

Working as a captive agent is a financial insurance of sorts. Meaning, you will always have a salary to fall back onto. Although the salary may be less than what an independent agent makes, it’s stable.   

Notwithstanding the fact that all the insurance companies present in the U.S. don’t pay salaries to their agents, some merely offer a small allowance to cover additional expenses while selling insurance.   

However, as a captive agent, you’re going to be on payroll and can even get occasional bonuses.   

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Deep Knowledge in Product A Captive Agent Is Selling

Captive agents often sell the products which are provided to them. They aren’t necessarily allowed to pick different lines of authority. This is both a pro as well as a con.   

Selling only one type of coverage is a benefit because it enables you to have a deep understanding and knowledge about the product. You can build on it, and with years of experience working in the field, you are likely to have expertise on it.   

Working like this allows you to master your choice of niche marketing. This will prove to be beneficial for you in the long run.   

captive agent loyal

Cons of Becoming a Captive Agent

Only Being Able to Sell One Type of Product

As mentioned above, captive agents are generally bound to sell in one line of authority. If a company specializes in health insurance, then they can only sell different policies of health insurance. This can become repetitive and boring for you to work with.   

It can also drive away potential clients who want to give you their business but don’t want the policies you are selling. For example, if your parent company specializes in selling homeowners insurance then it might be difficult for you to sell cyber insurance

Sales Quotas

As a captive agent, you’re going to have sales quotas to meet. These are present in every insurance companies. Quotas are usually there so that the parent company can meet its sales target. While they are necessary and extremely beneficial for the parent companies, they might not be the same for you.   

Reaching sales quotas can be difficult. Big companies often tie commissions to sales quotas. Meaning, you are only liable to get a commission if you make a certain number of sales. This trade sounds fair on paper, but really there isn’t a lot that you are getting out of it even though you’ll be the one putting in the most work.   

Lack of Personal Growth As A Captive Agent

Even the connections you make with your clients won’t be your own. Most of your clients are mostly giving you their business because they feel comfortable dealing with the company you’re working under.   

Whatever you work for your parent company’s growth and not for yourself. This kills the resale value of your own agency if you are working as one.   

The journey of a captive insurance agent is full of learning. However, you’ll only be able to grow in terms of knowledge and skills. You won’t be able to see a lot of tangible personal growth. If you were to stop working under franchises, you’d be starting over from scratch.   

Is Becoming A Captive Agent Worth It?

In all honesty, working under franchises and aggregators does sound very lucrative financially. However, you’ll have to restrict yourself to only selling a limited number of products and working under a franchise.

According to an article by The Street, captive agents get lesser amount in commisions.  Moreover, independent agents are able to own their book of business and work with multiple carriers. In short, a captive agent is an ostrich in a world of eagles.

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