The major difference between purchasing insurance from a captive agent or an independent broker is that the broker is going to try to get you the best deal on coverage while the captive agent is only interested in selling the policy. The reason for this is that independent brokers are not committed to selling policies for only one company, and dedicated agents are.
The independent broker relies on your business to earn a living, and is willing to go a few extra steps to help you get what you need. A dedicated agent only sells policies for a single company, and they are probably going to get paid whether you buy the policy or not. That simple point makes all the difference: the broker needs your business to earn income and the captive agent is just putting in his time on the clock.
The advantage of a captive agent is that she may know more about the policy being sold. She only sells insurance from one company, and the coverages will not change from one customer to the next as far as how each type of insurance works. With the broker, you will have to do some of the homework yourself, but the tradeoff is better service and usually a lower price.
You can compare prices between brokers and dedicated agents online. First, get a quote from a national insurance company, and then use a broker website to get the same quote from several different but similar insurance providers. Used in this way, an insurance quote website becomes a powerful tool that helps you save money, time and frustration.