Exclusive Vs Independent Insurance Agents: What is the Difference, and Which Should I Choose?

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Insurance is an exciting field to work in. Not only is it easy to enter, but it is also highly rewarding for those who find their calling in it. If you want to become an agent, you might have heard several terms that might have caused confusion.

These terms typically are industry-specific and are difficult for unrelated people to understand. But whether it is something related to the policy or terms such as exclusive or independent  insurance agents, they hold some importance. In this article, we will explore the two types of insurance agents, what they are, what they do, their differences, and which one you should become.

Table of Contents

What is an Insurance Agent?

An insurance agent is given a license by IRDAI, the regulatory authority for insurance in India, to sell insurance products to customers. An agent informs a potential customer about the suite of insurance products offered by the insurer they are affiliated with and recommends the best policy after understanding the customer’s needs.

They are responsible for explaining the policy details, for example, the policy duration, the inclusions and exclusions, the special conditions, and the claims process. In some circumstances, they are also required to act as customer support post sales and offer financial advice if the customer asks to help plan and budget the investment.

There are usually two types of agents, and they have been divided based on their affiliation with insurance providers.

1. Independent Agent:

An independent agent is someone who is not employed by any particular insurance provider and sells policies from any number of insurers they are affiliated with. As an independent agent, they earn only from commissions.

2. Exclusive Agents:

An exclusive agent is someone who is typically a full-time or part-time employee for an insurance provider. They are responsible for generating new leads and contacting them to create new business. They possess in-depth knowledge about the policies offered. They are sometimes provided monthly salaries along with sales commissions.

Should You Become an Independent or Exclusive Agent?

While becoming an agent is very fulfilling and rewarding, one might have different experiences depending on the type of agent, specialisation, insurer they represent, and several others.

To answer whether you should become an independent or an exclusive agent, the answer is that it depends on various factors. If you are just starting as an agent, then the stable income, the handholding, and the training conducted by becoming an exclusive agent are highly beneficial.

On the other hand, becoming an independent agent offers even greater freedom and flexibility. You can choose the insurance providers you would like to provide to your customer, have a greater suite of products to offer, and no targets to worry about. This might be a better choice for experienced agents with years of experience and loyal customers.

I, for one, have spent years in this industry and have worked as both an independent and an exclusive agent. I currently work as a health insurance agent for Niva Bupa, one of India’s best health insurance providers, and I work full-time here. This has offered me an opportunity to grow further and become more successful.

What are the Requirements to Become an Agent?

Whether you want to become an independent or an exclusive agent, these are the minimum requirements you will need to fulfil to become an agent in India.

  • The applicant must be at least 18 years old.
  • The applicant must complete their 10th or 12th, depending on their origin.
  • They must also complete mandatory training with an insurance provider.
  • The applicant must pass a licensing examination conducted by the IRDAI.


To conclude, at the end of the day, whichever type of agent you would like to become depends on your inclination and personal career goals. Refer to the above section for a detailed understanding of both and my personal recommendation.

To summarise, there are several reasons why someone would go one way or the other. These reasons are typically their career stage, personal and professional standing, and whether they have a family and would need a stable income or want to build an independent career. This choice might also differ if you already have a primary job and want to become an agent as a secondary source of income.

There can be endless debate for both sides, but you should choose the one you feel the most comfortable with. That is because this is a very personal decision as that can set your career path for the future.

Also Read: The Impact of Health Insurance on Healthcare Access and Utilisation

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