What Is an Insurance Carrier?

Definition & Examples of Insurance Carriers

Insurance agent going over paperwork with a couple

An insurance carrier is the company that provides your insurance coverage. It's also the company that employs your insurance agent, who handles all of your claims and coordinates your payments on behalf of your carrier.

Besides agents, an insurance carrier employs underwriters, customer service representatives, claims adjusters, and more. It's important to know the name of your carrier and how to get in touch with them when you need to.

What Is an Insurance Carrier?

"Insurance carrier" is just another word for your insurance company. Although you interact directly with your agent, it's your carrier that underwrites your policy and issues payments for your insurance claims. You may love your agent, but if you need to file a claim, your carrier's reputation for customer service and the security of its financial resources will matter most.

  • Alternate name: Insurance company or insurance provider

If your carrier goes under, your insurance policy is worth nothing.

How an Insurance Carrier Works

An insurance carrier may have one or more central offices for handling claims, but agents will typically be dispersed in smaller offices wherever the carrier offers coverage. After you choose your coverage options with your agent, they will send your policy to your carrier for underwriting and set up your premium payments. When the time comes to file a claim, you'll usually contact your agent and they will coordinate any follow-up that you need to make with claims adjusters or other carrier customer service representatives.

Where to Find Information

If you purchased your policy yourself, or if your policy is through a large national company, you very likely know the name of the company from catchy jingles and television commercials. But even if you purchased a policy from a smaller company, it’s vital to know the name of your carrier.

For instance, if you set up insurance through an independent insurance agent and you don’t have their direct contact information handy, you can speed up a claim if you know your insurance carrier off the top of your head. It is also helpful when you need to contact your insurance carrier’s customer service center.

You can find your carrier's info in several places:

  • Declarations page: The papers you receive from the insurance company detailing your coverage, limits, and all other information about your policy.
  • Proof of insurance: The cards your carrier mails to you that you show to confirm you're covered.
  • Call your agent: Your agent will, of course, be able to provide any information you need about your carrier.

Insurance Carrier vs. Provider

You may also hear the term "insurance provider" used to describe the company that handles your claims. "Insurance carrier" and "insurance provider" are interchangeable—there is no difference between them. Both terms describe the company that's financially behind your insurance policy.

Learn About Your Carrier

Although you should certainly know the name of the company you bought an insurance policy from, it's important to know more about your car insurance carrier than its name. Research customer reviews and the company's reputation, and look into its financial backing. Look through both the positive and negative reviews and see what comments occur the most. Recurring issues are more noteworthy than random rants from an anonymous single user.

Each insurance carrier should issue annual reports that provide detailed information about its overall financial situation. Look up these reports to make sure the company is financially healthy and able to handle claims.

Financial backing may not be something that's top of mind for you, but the financial health of your insurance carrier is incredibly important. A poor rating might mean your claim doesn't get paid—clearly not a good situation with an insurance policy. There are five independent rating agencies and each has its own rating system. Comparing the ratings from multiple agencies is the only way to get an accurate idea of a carrier's financial status. Check your insurance carrier's rating to ensure you are properly protected.

Key Takeaways

  • An insurance carrier is the company that provides your insurance coverage.
  • You can find your insurance carrier's information on your policy declarations page, insurance cards, or by calling your agent.
  • It's important to thoroughly research an insurance carrier's reputation and financial health before you sign up for a policy.