No, it’s not an agent being held prisoner. A captive agent is an insurance agent who serves one insurance company. These agents can advise you only on the products from that one insurance brand, even if they are not full-time agents there.
So what’s the problem here? A potential lack of objectivity. A captive agent can recommend you a product only from the company’s suite. They also have sales quotas to meet. In contrast, an independent agent in Singapore can represent up to a maximum of three insurers, and thus be able to offer a wider range of products. Naturally, the chance of finding a better fit of products and premiums to your needs will go up.
But ultimately, what matters is how good an agent you have. Someone who has your best interests at heart, regardless of whether he or she is a captive or independent agent, will be able to offer you the best advice and product for your needs.
Obviously, you should arm yourself with knowledge of the insurance market and its products in general before committing to a purchase. GoBear lets you compare products and prices across many insurance companies, and directs your enquiries to them. If you need to use an agent after that, having more information in your hands also puts you in a better position to get better advice.