I started out life with Farmers too!! 26 years ago. Farmers is responsible for the large percentage of the scratch indendent agencies that I see or meet at the PIA convention. I was appointed by Farmers for 6 1/2 years when we agreed to disagree and my agency appointment ended after I completed a full 7 years in 1989. When I left Farmers I had two non-standard auto appointments, three G/A's I was working with, two bonding companies and two specialty companies. That was back in the day when most FIG agents had at least one non-standard auto carrier.
In summary, I had some existing income/business outside of FIG. When I left FIG my contract value was $45,000 with a loan from the credit union that it secured, I had a net $29,000 contract value, paid over 12 months in 3 installments. Between the existing income and the contract value payments I was able to survive. Based on your contract value, my guess is that your annualized premium is aroung $450,000, not including your new business. If you have been producing a lot you may want to consider being patient. Review your production reports and see how your contract value is increasing. My last year's production with FIG was outstanding and I watched my contract value increase by nearly $10,000 because of my new business Auto increase the first 6 months of the most recent 12. Remember that your contract value is based on 100% of last years RENEWALS. If your retention plus new business production has been good that will work to your benefit.
What I did next was contact a couple of Standard Regional Companies and arranged appointments with them. As I grew with them I was able to attract and appoint with other National Standard companies.
Your first step, assuming that you do have some appointments outside of FIG, is to join one of the Associations. IIAB
and the PIA both work with E&O carriers. They can help as an advocate for obtaining E&O at a reasonable premium. I did not join initially and had some difficulty getting E&O. I initially worked with one of my GA's who was unable to secure a quote for me. I was finally able to get it through Employers Re: (now Westport) by going through the Life Underwiters Association. When I joined IIA, and had the policy trasferred to them, I learned that I had been declined by them when I had applied through the GA. The GA was as surprised to learn this as I was because there had never been any formal notification to either of us about the decline. We both just thought they were dragging their feet on preparing their quote when the truth was that they just weren't communicating with us and may not even have realized it.
If you do NOT have other appointments get a few appointments, which your FIG Contract does allow. When I left FIG I already had a Progressive appointment, which may be difficult to get now as an FIG agent and a Viking appointment.
Reviewing the other comments in this forum, you are seeing a lot of good advice and recommendations. One of the pieces of advice that I really think you should take VERY SERIOUSLY is to stay away from Brooke Franchise. I have a very good and very old friend who also left FIG to work in an indepndent agency that was sold to a Brooke Fanchise. The first agency gave him an ownership interest in his personal book so he came away good in the sale, but he's now working with another independant because of the Brooke Franchise payment policies.
The last thing that you need to remember is that your non-compete is of both your book and the book of ANY other agent in your district. They're really only able to watch your book unless one of the remianing FIG agents complains that you're taking their business.
Best of luck.