What Is the Difference Between an Insurance Agency and an Insurance Carrier?

What Is the Difference Between an Insurance Agency and an Insurance Carrier? Insurance is a crucial aspect of managing risk and protecting oneself from financial losses.

What Is the Difference Between an Insurance Agency and an Insurance Carrier?

When it comes to buying insurance, there are two main parties involved: insurance agencies and insurance carriers. These two terms are often used interchangeably, but they represent distinct entities in the insurance industry.

In this article, we will take a look at the differences between an insurance agency and an insurance carrier and how they work together to provide coverage for policyholders.

What is an Insurance Agency?

An insurance agency is a company that acts as an intermediary between the policyholder and the insurance carrier. In other words, an insurance agency is a broker that connects consumers with insurance companies that offer policies that meet their needs. Insurance agencies do not underwrite insurance policies themselves but instead, work with multiple insurance carriers to find the best coverage options for their clients.

Insurance agencies usually have a team of licensed insurance agents who help clients evaluate their insurance needs, compare policies from different carriers, and purchase insurance coverage. These agents specialize in a particular type of insurance, such as auto, home, or health insurance. Some insurance agencies may also offer other services such as risk management and claims processing.

What Does an Insurance Agency do?

Some of the key functions of an insurance agency include the following:

Providing access to a range of insurance products

Insurance agencies work with multiple insurance carriers, offering a range of insurance products and policies to customers. By working with different carriers, insurance agencies can provide customers with access to a variety of insurance products, allowing them to compare prices, coverage options, and benefits.

Advising Customers on Insurance Products

Insurance agencies provide advice and guidance to customers on insurance products, pricing, and coverage options. They also help customers understand the terms and conditions of insurance policies and provide advice on the types of coverage that would meet their requirements.

Providing insurance quotes

Insurance agencies provide insurance quotes to customers based on their individual needs and requirements. They usually work with insurance carriers to obtain quotes and also help customers compare prices and coverage options.

Assisting with Claims

Insurance agencies assist customers with the claims process, helping them navigate the process of filing a claim and ensuring they receive the compensation they are entitled to.

Offering risk assessment and management services

Insurance agencies help their clients manage their risks by providing guidance on how to reduce their exposure to them and avoid potential losses. They offer risk assessment and management services to businesses, helping them identify potential risks and develop strategies to manage those risks.

Providing customer support

Insurance agencies provide customer support to customers. They answer questions, address concerns, and provide guidance on insurance-related issues.

What is an insurance carrier?

An insurance carrier, which is also known as an insurance company, is a business that provides insurance policies to customers. They are licensed by the state and regulated by laws and regulations governing the insurance industry. Carriers take on the financial risks of providing insurance coverage to customers in exchange for premiums.

What does an insurance carrier do?

The functions of an insurance carrier include the following:

Underwriting Insurance Policies

Insurance carriers assess risks and determine the terms and conditions of insurance policies. This includes exclusions, deductibles, and coverage limits. They make use of actuarial science to evaluate risks and also determine the premiums that customers must pay to obtain insurance coverage.

Assuming Financial Risks             

Insurance carriers assume the financial risks that are associated with insurance policies, such as paying claims when policyholders experience damages or losses. They also have reserves so that they can meet financial obligations and pay claims when they arise.

Providing Resources to Insurance Agencies

Insurance carriers provide training, marketing support, and other resources to insurance agencies to help them sell their products. They also work closely with insurance agencies to ensure that customers have access to a range of insurance products and policies.

Offering a Range of Insurance Products

Insurance carriers offer a range of insurance products. This includes auto insurance, homeowners’ insurance, life insurance, commercial insurance, and health insurance. They also offer customized insurance products in order to meet the specific needs of customers.

Adhering to State and Federal Regulations

Insurance carriers operate in a highly regulated environment. They comply with state and federal laws governing the insurance industry. They are required to maintain financial reserves, file regular financial reports, and meet other regulatory requirements.

What is the difference between an insurance agency and an insurance carrier?

The main difference between insurance carriers and insurance agencies is that insurance carriers are the companies that underwrite and issue insurance policies. They also assume the risk of providing coverage to policyholders and are responsible for paying out claims when they occur. They have a large financial reserve to cover potential losses and may offer a wide range of insurance products.

Insurance agencies, on the other hand, are companies or individuals that act as intermediaries between the insurance carriers and the policyholders. They are also responsible for selling insurance policies on behalf of the carriers and may also provide related services such as risk assessment, claims management, and customer support.


Though insurance agencies and insurance carriers are different entities in the insurance industry, they both work together to provide helpful services to customers. Insurance agencies are essential in matching customers with the appropriate insurance products and guiding them through the insurance process, even though insurance carriers are ultimately responsible for coverage and claim payments. When looking for insurance, consumers should be aware of the differences between carriers and agencies, as well as the particular goods and services each offers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an insurance agency also be an insurance carrier?

Yes, some insurance agencies are also insurance carriers. This means they underwrite and assume the risk of the policies they issue. These types of agencies are known as ‘insurance companies’ or “Insurers”. They both sell policies and pay out claims.

What Are Some Examples of Insurance Agencies and Insurance Carriers?

Examples of insurance agencies include State Farm, Allstate, and Geico, while examples of insurance carriers include AIG, MetLife, and Nationwide. Some companies act as both insurance agencies and insurance carriers. They offer policies from multiple carriers as well as underwriting their own policies. Examples of these companies include Progressive and Farmers.

How do I pick the best insurance carrier?

Consider factors like the insurance company’s financial stability, reputation, customer service, available coverage, and premiums when selecting one. To find out if the carrier has a license and is in good standing, you can also contact the state insurance departments.

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