The term "Insurance intermediary" is widely used in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. According to the Financial Services Authority of the U.K., an insurance intermediary is a firm other than the insurer that carries on mediation activity. In the United States, "insurance intermediary" is a term used to identify agents, brokers and other individuals and organisations that represent clients in insurance transactions.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines insurance agents as employees of a specific insurance company who sell different types of insurance, prepare reports and give clients advice about different insurance products. Insurance brokers, says the BLS, have no loyalty to a certain insurance company and instead work with different firms to find the most suitable policies for clients. Both types of intermediaries assist clients with risk assessment, help them decide how much protection they need and guide them through the claims process.
Both agents and brokers deal with various types of insurance products, including life, accident, health, property and casualty, auto and long-term care. Life insurance agents often sell mutual funds, annuities and other financial products.
Individual insurance agents and brokers must be licensed in their resident states and in the states where they solicit sales. They also need to be appointed with those insurance companies whose products they plan to sell. Insurance agents selling variable products must obtain a valid securities license.