What is an Independent Agent?

When you decide to buy a car, you wouldn’t purchase the first one you see. What if one day the automobile industry decided to make only one type of car, one make and one model. You wouldn’t have a choice!

The same situation holds true for insurance. You need insurance to drive a car, to purchase a house, to protect your family’s financial future and to run a small business. But if there was only one insurance company that offered only one type of insurance, home insurance or business owner policy–you wouldn’t have a choice. The only solution would be going to that one company.

With an independent insurance agent, you have choices. Independent agents are not tied to any one insurance company. One of the advantages of using an independent agent is that he or she works to satisfy your needs. You are using an expert for an important financial decision.

An independent agent has several companies that he or she can approach to get you the best coverage at the best price. And your independent agent will know the companies with the most efficient claims departments to recover your losses as quickly as possible.  When you buy insurance, whether it’s for your home, your car or your business, you want an advocate who will properly assess the risks you face and give you an objective analysis of the marketplace. It’s up to you to make the final choice.

The History of the Independent Agent

The Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA) is the nation’s oldest and largest association of independent insurance agents began as the result of a chance meeting on a Denver street in 1896.

Robert Brannen and Charles Wilson, two independent fire insurance agents, stopped and talked about the challenges facing agents who wanted to give their customers a choice of products from more than one insurance company.

Brannen and Wilson decided to meet with other colleagues to discuss their concerns. Twenty agents got together on September 30, 1896, and unanimously decided to form the National Association of Local Fire Insurance Agents (NALFIA), based in Chicago. Their mission: “to support right principles and use our influence to correct bad practices in fire underwriting.”

Membership expanded in 1913 when NALFIA decided to include casualty and surety agents. For the next 62 years, the group was known as the National Association of Insurance Agents (NAIA). Before long, NAIA moved its headquarters to New York City and in 1934 established an office in Washington, D.C.

In October 1956, the now-well-recognized big “I” logo made its debut on association
and member materials. In 1975, the association changed its name to the Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA). And in 1989, IIAA moved its national headquarters to Alexandria, Va. Just outside of the nation’s capital.


IIAA is the premier association representing 280,000 independent insurance agents and agency employees nationwide. The Independent Agency System in which members operate represents 25 percent of the total of U.S. insurance industry workforce. IIAA’s mission is to be the unrelenting advocate for independent insurance agents and fulfill the educational, political and business needs of its members. It does so by combining the individual strengths of its state associations into one strong, national voice.

An estimated three out of four American consumers recognize the association’s Big “I” logo, which has become one of the most trusted and respected
business trademarks.