You may have heard the terms “captive” or “independent” used to describe Medicare advisors. These two types of agents do very similar things, and you can work with either type. However, there are some big advantages to working with an independent Medicare advisor.
Let’s talk about what it means for a Medicare advisor to be independent or captive and why it is advantageous to work with an independent Medicare advisor.
Captive Medicare Advisors
A captive Medicare advisor is an agent who works with only one insurance company. They sell only the policies, plans, or products offered by that one company and cannot help with plans sold by any other insurance carrier.
Independent Medicare Advisors
An independent Medicare advisor is an agent who has contracts with many insurance companies. They choose which companies have the best reputation based on their customer service and competitive pricing. Independent Medicare advisors can offer their clients many different types of plans with many different carriers. They can discuss the pros and cons between the two companies, and most importantly, they can compare their rates.
Advantages of Working with an Independent Medicare Advisor
It probably already seems obvious why working with an independent Medicare advisor is advantageous. Let’s discuss the advantages in more detail.
They can compare products.
The two products that can supplement Original Medicare (Parts A and B) are Medicare Advantage plans and Medicare supplement (Medigap) plans. A Medicare advisor should offer both kinds and educate you on their differences. Not all companies offer both types of plans. A captive agent may not be able to offer you both products or help you make comparisons between the two.
- It probably already seems obvious why working with an independent Medicare advisor is advantageous.
They can compare rates.
A captive agent will not tell you if their rates are higher or lower than those of other insurance companies. An independent agent will look at all the rates of the carriers they are contracted with to make sure they find the lowest rate for you.
They can look at rate increase histories.
This is an important one. An independent Medicare advisor won’t always recommend choosing the lowest premium, though they will at least let you know it’s an option. Instead, an independent agent will look at the carrier’s history of rate increases to see if that low premium will quickly become more expensive. A captive agent will not compare their rate increase history with their competitors.
How to Find a Great Independent Medicare Advisor
You’ve got lots of options when it comes to choosing an independent Medicare advisor. How do you know which one to choose? Here are three questions you can ask to make sure the Medicare advisor you choose is going to work well for you.
Do you offer Medicare Advantage and Medicare supplements?
As we mentioned before, a good agent is going to educate you on both types of plans and should not try to push you in one direction. They will tell you the pros and cons of each, but the decision is ultimately yours.
Which insurance companies do you work with?
If the agent says they only work with one company, you may want to choose another agent. The particular company they are working for may end up being the one you choose, but it’s important to compare products and premiums first. If you work with a captive agent, you’ll have to research other companies on your own, making your job quite a bit more difficult.
How often will I meet with you?
Once you’ve finished enrolling in your Medicare plans, you won’t need to meet with your Medicare advisor often. However, there are times during the year when that is beneficial. You should make sure that your agent will stay in touch to let you know about any important enrollment periods or if you are eligible to make any cost-saving changes to your current plans.
Working with an independent Medicare advisor is going to give you more options than you’ll have if you work with a captive agent. And, of course, working with any type of Medicare advisor is going to alleviate the stress that Medicare enrollment can cause on beneficiaries. Your advisor will help with the entire process and do all of the heavy lifting for you.