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Independent insurance agents, also known as car insurance brokers or independent auto insurance brokers, are men and women who sell insurance. They are not employees of one auto insurance company so if you call an auto insurance broker they are most interested in getting you a policy with them, not with one particular auto insurance company. The responsibilities of auto insurance agent brokers are to you, the buyer, as much as they are to the companies they work with.
While companies may give agents incentives or even have contests that might make them more responsive to one company over another, they will still give you all the options they have available.
The difference between an in-person broker and an independent insurance agent from an agency like Carinsurance.com is simple; Carinsurance.com has access to many more companies than an in-person broker does. Different brokers will represent different companies and usually one in-person broker will only represent up to six or seven companies. Getting your insurance quote online gives you access to almost all of the car insurance companies you could think of. Plus a few that you might never have heard of but have great ratings. Give it a try; you might save a lot of money you didn't know you could be saving.