Independent agencies including A.M. Best, Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s provide ratings on the financial strength of insurance companies. These agencies asses the ability of an insurance company to remain solvent in the event of major crisis or difficult economic times. While companies of such status seem invulnerable to failure, not even they have limitless funds. One notable example: American International Group (AIG) needed a government bailout during the 2008 recession. While many circumstances can influence the financial state of these corporations, their agency ratings are a valuable metric. A good rating is confirmation that an insurer can back your claim when it matters most.
Insurance agents have a responsibility to the insurance company.  Agents act as the insurance company representative in the buying process as they are typically salaried employees.   Most insurance agents are “Captive” to represent only one company, such as: Allstate, State Farm, Farmer, etc.  Because they are contracted as captive insurance agents, they are not able to discuss or recommend other insurance companies.  
Before you grab a quote from Progressive, you should know that coverage and discount may vary depending on your state. This is because the company doesn’t back homeowners policies itself, but partners with other companies to offer it to Progressive Auto customers. As the company explains it, “Insurance through the Progressive Home Advantage® program is underwritten by select companies that are not affiliates of Progressive and are solely responsible for claims, including Homesite Group Incorporated, IDS Property Casualty Co., and ASI Lloyds, and their affiliates.”

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There are also a few different ways your claim will be settled depending on your policy. Actual Cash Value will reimburse you for the replacement cost minus any depreciation. Because the cost can vary so much over time when it comes to property, this kind of policy could mean the limit on your coverage ends up coming in significantly below the cost to repair or even rebuild your home.

Analysis: You’ll likely get better services from outside specialists, but that’s not the overriding factor here. The real problem is that tying services to insurance products makes it disruptive for you to leave your broker. The products and services should be unbundled so that there’s real competition for the big-ticket item: the insurance itself. 

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