Insurance companies typically use several types of agents to sell their products. These agents have different sales and service approaches.
An independent insurance salesperson that may place business with any state-certified insurance provider. He/she can shop the business across the market for the best deal.
A contractor who is appointed to represent several insurance companies. He/she can shop a customer's business within the companies they represent.
An agent who represents a single insurer or group of insurers. He/she is obligated to sell business only for one company, or at the least, give the company first right of refusal before presenting customers to other companies.
An employee of the insurance company that sells products directly to customers via the mail or over the telephone. Direct writers typically only sell insurance for the company they are employed by.