When you are looking at buying life insurance you can work with two types of agents. Either the agent will be a broker who independently shops a lot of companies and products or you will work with a captive agent who just represents one company. A good example of a captive agent would be New York Life or Northwestern Mutual. While they do have good products, it is generally a losing proposition for the consumer.
Life insurance brokers will be a better option for the consumer as they are not beholden to one company and trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. When companies are competing, it is generally going to be more beneficial for the customer. The customer will benefit from a larger selection of potential products and will be able to access the best rates on the market if they are just buying level term. The reason for using a company that is captive like a New York Life is that it is a good mutual company with a good whole life product. There are a lot of good mutual companies that can be accessed in the broker market like Mass Mutual, Guardian Life Insurance company, Lafayette Life.
As a life insurance brokerage, we have access to just about every carrier on the market. If you are buying term insurance it is basically a commodity, so it makes sense to look for the best rate. If you are looking for a permanent plan with cash value, then we will look at all the good products in our portfolio.