When shopping around for home insurance, you naturally want the best coverage possible. Yet, there are so many options out there—how are you supposed to find an insurance company that offers a fair price, provides the protection you need, and also offers excellent customer service?
It can be a challenge to find the right match. And, it's a big decision to make. After all, your house is your chief investment—and it's your place to escape a sometimes stressful world. It's your home. Ensuring you are protecting that investment should be a top priority.
If you've just started your home insurance search, you've likely encountered a few different terms. Particularly, insurance brokers and direct writers. While each professional can help you buy home insurance, there are a few important distinctions you should know before deciding what direction to take.
To help inform your choice, the expert team at Morison Insurance has put together the following resource exploring choosing home insurance through a broker vs direct writer.
Starting off, let's break down insurance brokers and direct writers a bit further. Essentially, an insurance broker works at an independent company that shops around for insurance quotes on your behalf. This means they aren't biased towards a certain insurer. Brokers also have access to numerous insurance companies. Lastly, brokers are highly experienced, licensed professionals who have expert insights into how to find you the best insurance coverage possible. These three qualities—unbiased, access, expertise–mean your insurance broker is always in your corner. He or she will work hard to ensure you have the best coverage possible, and that you're completely satisfied with that coverage.
The clue as to how direct writers differ from insurance brokers is in the name. Direct writers deal directly with one insurance company—the company that employs them. Since they represent their own company, direct writers will only provide you with quotes for their own insurance products. If you're prepared to shop around for quotes on your own, this isn't necessarily a bad thing. But it does require significantly more work to find excellent home insurance coverage—particularly without help from an expert broker.
Now that we've given you a better sense of the different roles direct writers and insurance brokers play, let's dive into the good stuff. Before deciding whether to invest in a broker's expertise or shop around through various direct writers for your Ontario home insurance policy, you should know the pros and cons of each. Starting with direct writers.
Since direct writers only represent the company they work for, they have the ability to give you information about their products quickly—whether you're communicating over the phone or online. This can be helpful if you're in a bit of a rush and need information now. Or, if you already know what you want. Their focus is on quick and convenient service, rather than taking the time to truly get to know you and your home insurance needs.
Many direct writers represent large companies and thus have extended hours of operation. Many of these companies provide 24/7 service over the phone or online which can be convenient if you work odd hours or have a crammed schedule.
When your situation is straightforward, direct writers are usually able to offer reasonable premiums. However, it's important to keep in mind that they will not be able to navigate more complex situations. For example, if you just moved to Ontario from another province or country, or have a second property that you rent. These situations require more moving parts, and direct writers tend to like customers that need straightforward solutions to straightforward problems.
While there are benefits to purchasing home insurance through a direct writer, there are a few drawbacks as well.
Most direct writers work out of a call centre. While this means they do have extended hours of operation, it also means you will get a different agent each time you call. While there will be a file about your home insurance policy that the agents can access, you'll still be playing a bit of catch-up each time you reach out. Also, you'll lose the opportunity to build a meaningful relationship with the person handling your Ontario home insurance. This can feel disheartening like you're just another faceless client the direct writer wants to deal with as quickly as possible before moving on to the next person.
We mentioned this above, but it's worth reiterating again. Direct writers prefer simple solutions to simple home insurance problems. This is because of their focus on providing speedy and efficient service. While that's not inherently bad, some things shouldn't be rushed. Like finding the best home insurance policy possible. If you have a complex situation, own multiple properties, lease your home part-time, or own a high-value home, you're better off choosing an independent insurance broker who will take the time to ensure you have the best coverage possible.
Since direct writers prefer straightforward policies, they may choose not to insure certain structures such as a standalone property or heritage building, for example. This can result in you seriously wasting time on the phone with someone who can't help you, rather than meeting with an independent insurance broker who can.
Since direct writers work in a call centre and you'll speak to a different agent each time, more people will know your private business. Also, it's the nature of direct writers to put everything you say into your file. This means while asking a question and seeking expert advice, you may unintentionally open a claim. Whereas independent brokers are able to provide advice without being compelled to put that information in your file. That said, it's important to note that certain information will need to be shared with insurance companies regardless, such as past claims you've filed.
As direct writers only represent the company they work for, you'll only be able to get a homeowners insurance quote from one insurer. If you're prepared to commit to the first quote you hear—or spend hours shopping around for insurance on your own—then this may work for you. However, most Ontario homeowners like to know their options. That's where an insurance broker steps in, as they have access to many quotes from many different leading insurance companies.
With the pros and cons of direct writers out of the way, we can focus on the same for insurance brokers. Keep reading to get the lowdown.
One of the prime qualities of insurance brokers is that we work for you. Our interest isn't in making a quick sale. It's in providing objective, thoughtful service that always puts your needs first. At Morison Insurance, we've helped homeowners throughout Ontario find the absolute best coverage for their needs. We spend time getting to know you and focus on building long-term relationships with all our clients. Using this information, we find the best quotes for you. Not for the insurance companies.
Unlike a direct writer who can only provide you one homeowners insurance quote, brokers have a wealth of information at their fingertips and access to multiple companies. For instance, at Morison Insurance we have access to more than 20 of Ontario's best insurance providers and have built relationships with each. Using our years of expertise, we'll shop around for the best coverage and give you a variety of options so you can make an informed choice. This also saves you the hassle of finding quotes on your own, without an expert's guidance.
We offer advice. Ultimately, the coverage you choose is up to you. Since we focus on building lasting relationships with our clients, we take the time to listen to your questions and provide unbiased answers. Unlike a direct writer, you can have faith our conversation will stay confidential. With that in mind, as we mentioned earlier, certain information must be disclosed to insurance companies while obtaining a quote, such as speeding tickets and fines.
In this day and age, it can feel like efficiency and speed are the driving forces behind our lives. While there is a time and place for that, it can often leave you feeling dissatisfied with the service you've received. With an insurance broker, like the team at Morison insurance, there is no rush. We relish truly getting to know our clients, and working at a pace that works for you. We'll provide convenient, helpful service while never pressuring you into making a decision.
We know sometimes life can get complicated, particularly if you travel to properties abroad, or have numerous residences within Ontario, some of which you may lease part-time. Unlike direct writers, our insurance brokers are equipped to handle complex situations. We're home insurance experts, meaning we can offer helpful advice and present your case fairly to insurance companies. Always, our goal is to find you the best coverage possible.
Unlike when working with a direct writer, choosing an insurance broker means choosing dedicated service. You will always deal with the same person. This is beneficial for a few reasons. You have the opportunity to build trust with the person helping protect your greatest assets, so you can have confidence that your broker has your best interests at heart. And, there is no time wasted playing catch-up when reviewing your home insurance policy.
Despite the many benefits of choosing an insurance broker, there are a couple of disadvantages worth noting.
Many insurance brokers have a smaller window of availability, typically between 8:30 to 4:30 during the week. However, this smaller window means we spend our time well. We hone in on your needs and use our time together wisely to help you find the best home insurance coverage. Also, many brokerages, including Morison Insurance, offer dedicated claims options 24/7, outside of conventional office hours. While most claims don't need to be filed until the next business day—when you can speak directly to your dedicated broker—urgent issues can be filed directly through your insurance company at any time.
Truth be told, we really don't see this as a disadvantage. Due to our personalized service, this does mean you and your insurance broker will have the opportunity to get to know each other very well. While forging new relationships takes time, it's one of our favourite parts of the job. We genuinely enjoy getting to know each of our new customers. At Morison Insurance, we thrive on building relationships.
We hope this guide has given you the information you need to decide whether a direct writer or dedicated insurance broker is the right choice for you. Should you choose expert, personalized service and wish to speak directly with the team at Morison Insurance, we'll be more than happy to help you find the best home insurance coverage possible. As a local, family-owned business, we take pride in building meaningful relationships with our clients and always putting our customers’ needs first.
To speak with one of our expert insurance brokers today, we invite you to give our office a call at 1-800-463-8074. Alternatively, you can request a quote by contacting us online. We look forward to meeting you, and helping find the right coverage for your needs.
This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.