DEFINITION of 'Captive Agent'
An insurance agent who only works for one insurance company. A captive agent is paid by that one company either with a combination of salary and commissions or with just commissions. He or she may be a full-time employee or an independent contractor, and may be provided with office space and benefits by the employer. Captive agents have in-depth knowledge of their particular company's insurance products, but cannot help a client who does not need or does not qualify for that company's products. The parent company may push its captive agents to sell certain policies or meet certain sales quotas.
BREAKING DOWN 'Captive Agent'
The opposite of a captive agent is an independent agent. An independent agent does not work for any particular insurance company and is often paid by commission only. Independent agents can sell policies from an array of companies. This arrangement can be better for clients because the agent can seek out the best policy for that client's needs. However, an independent agent may not have specialized knowledge about a particular company's products. An independent agent arrangement can be better for agents because it offers a more diversified source of income, but it can also be riskier because the agent may need to provide his or her own startup capital, pay for business expenses and arrange benefits.