New businesses in need of commercial insurance have to wade through a lot of detail to find the policies and coverage that will adequately protect the business and its workers. Sometimes a person starts a new business with knowledge of exactly what they need, while others need more help choosing. When you look for insurance coverage for your business, you'll find three different routes you can take.
The Traditional Route: The Agent
Like personal insurance, business insurance is often managed through an agent, someone who is authorized by one insurance company to issue and administer policies for that company only. When you have a good, long-term relationship with an agent, you'll find that getting good deals is a lot easier simply because the agent is more familiar with what you need and what your business cycles are like. The agent's job is to administer all of the insurance products from the company. An agent would be a very good person to develop a working relationship with, so if you know which insurance company you want to get coverage from, find an agent and set up your coverage.
The Open-Possibility Route: The Broker
If you don't know which insurance company you want to get coverage from, and you don't know what coverage would be exactly right for you, you could benefit from working with a broker. Brokers research different companies and policies to fin the best fit for different people. They also help you apply for the coverage. They can't really administer the policies like an agent can, so once you find the coverage you want and apply for it, you'll have to find either an agent or a direct writer.
The Budget Route: The Direct Writer
Direct writers work directly for the insurance company but are not agents. Direct writers can issue policies and make changes or file claims, but they may not know of all the products in a way that would allow them to find the best coverage for you. They may steer you toward basic policies or policies that work for many companies, but not necessarily yours. The advantage to working with a direct writer is that your premiums might be a bit lower because you've effectively cut out the middleman.
You are likely best off, overall, by working with an agent. Direct writers can be very good for those who know exactly what they want, and brokers are excellent for times when you want to investigate several companies' policies. But agents are best for developing long-term business relationships with the insurance company because they understand how insurance combinations affect your business and vice versa.