A good independent agent is likely to be the best place for most insurance consumers to start. By employing an independent agent, you preserve the maximum number of options for yourself. And, you are less likely to find yourself in a situation in which you have insufficient limits or unexpected gaps in insurance coverage in the event of a major loss. This is particularly true if you are the owner of a small business. The underwriting of commercial insurance policies is inherently more complex than is the underwriting of personal lines policies. Independent agents are much more likely than captive agents to have a substantial volume of commercial business in addition to their personal lines book of business. Consequently, a good independent agent is likely to be much more attuned 24 The Complete Book of Insurance to the inquiries necessary to assure that your coverages are as complete as possible and to avoid coverage gaps. This is particularly true with respect to the form of and the amount of business interruption insurance, plus additional, optional commercial coverages, that may be appropriate for you. These are some common examples of situations where a good independent agent’s skills are important. For example, a developer might want its own coverage to apply only as excess coverage over its coverage as an additional insured under the policies of the subcontractors working for it on a construction project. The knowledge of the developer’s loss exposures and the ability to assure that those loss exposures are covered appropriately requires expertise that is often beyond that of an agent for a direct writer. Similarly, a vendor might want the coverage of its own policy to apply only as excess coverage over its coverage as an additional insured under a manufacturer’s policy for product liability suits brought against the vendor by a purchaser of an alleged defective product made by that manufacturer. Again, effecting the insurance needs of such a vendor requires a certain level of knowledge and expertise that may be beyond that of many personal lines oriented agents. The choice is yours. The important point is for you to realize that you have a choice and that exercising that choice means that you need to better inform yourself so that you obtain the protection best suited to your needs.

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