The term broker traditionally refers to a person or entity that acts on behalf of a buyer or client which is known as the principle. The broker uses their knowledge and expertise to advise the client on certain decision usually pertaining to purchasing and trading. The broker can either play an advisory role or may also have complete purchasing and decision making power in order to act on behalf of the client or principle.
The most commonly found form of brokers are investment brokers and commodity brokers. People who wish to invest their money and trade in commodities seldom have the knowledge and time to manage their investment portfolio’s closely so they employ broker’s such as these who have a lot more insight and expertise to act on their behalf. There are however many other forms of brokers who also provide people with their inputs of knowledge and expertise. Other examples of brokers include business brokers, Forex brokers, real estate brokers, insurance brokers and many more.
The term insurance broker is however a very vague one. In the past insurance brokers were just like any other broker, but specialising in insurance policies. They would act on behalf of the principle/individual who employed them in order to investigate various insurance options from various insurance companies in order to secure the best deals for the principle, as well as help interpret certain formalities within insurance contracts. A trend eventually developed in which insurance brokers did not necessarily look out for the best interests of the principle and would favour certain insurance companies. In fact many insurance companies posed as brokers in order to obtain the preference of deceived and uninformed individuals. As a result the term insurance broker has developed into one with a much broader meaning. Today an insurance broker is essentially seen as any person who acts as an agent to insurance on behalf of the principle, irrespective of whether the agent is acting in the interest of the principle or in the interest of a particular insurance company.
In reality the term insurance broker is hardly ever used to refer to an agent who is hired by individuals seeking the best insurance offers. Today it is more accurately applied to employees of insurance companies who represent the clients of that company. Insurance brokers still represent insured individuals, but instead they are hired by the insurance company itself to handle the claims, legalities and transactions between the insured and the insurance company. Therefore most brokers represent only one insurance company and act in the interests of the insurance company which they represent. The broker essentially acts as an intermediary which communicates the interests of the insured to the insurance company, manages the procedures of coverage and ensures that the insurance contract is adhered to.
In conclusion, the existence of an broker is very necessary to both the insurance company and the insured individual, as they insure that neither party breaches the insurance contract and make sure that procedures are followed. The insurance broker also makes it easier for insured individuals to communicate their interests to the company and successfully make claims should the need arise.