Independent Agents Seek New, Strong Performing Carriers: Survey

April 14, 2016

Independent insurance agents are seeing revenue growth and would like to grow more, but they’ll need help from carriers. Agents indicate a strong desire to add new carriers, but only if those carriers can demonstrate strong performance when it comes to claims service, competitive pricing, underwriting responsiveness and customer service, according to a preliminary finding in a new industry survey.

The study, The Carrier Relationship: What Matters Most to Agents and Brokers “Agents and Carriers Find Opportunity in Relationships,” is the eighth in a series examining agents’ views on property/casualty carriers as well as marketplace issues. Some 1,900 independent agents provided their opinions for the survey, which was sponsored by Insurance Journal.

“Overwhelmingly agents are satisfied with their top carrier — the carrier with whom they place the most business,” said Josh Miller, research director of Channel Harvest. “When they tell us what they like best about their top carrier they paint a pretty vivid picture of what it takes to succeed in an agency-carrier relationship.”

Agents who place personal lines business gave their top carriers high marks for financial strength, claims service, customer service, underwriting responsiveness and technology.

When asked why they placed so much business with that carrier, they said things such as:

  • “Fits the needs of my clients.
  • “Agent friendly web site – ease of quoting and issue of policies.”
  • “True partner.”
  • “Broad range of products.”
  • “We know who our underwriter and market reps are and see them yearly.”

The survey reveals a few disconnects, albeit modest, between personal lines carrier performance and agency expectations. When it comes to pricing, nearly all (96 percent) say competitive pricing is very important or somewhat important, while fewer than three-fourths (71 percent) consider their top carrier’s pricing above average. Similarly, nearly nine-in-10 (89 percent) say a carrier’s technology is important while seven-in-10 (70 percent) believe their top carrier is above average.

Independent agency revenue growth (2014) Channel Harvest

Independent agency revenue growth (2014) Channel Harvest

“Another area of interest is training, where personal lines agents see their carriers as a knowledge expert in areas beyond insurance,” said Miller. “Respondents told us they want to see more training from their carriers on skills such as talent recruitment and marketing and less about carrier-specific products and systems.

“Carriers want to know agents’ views on property/casualty insurers and various marketplace issues,” Miller said. “Year in and year out, the Channel Harvest survey is an indispensable tool for insurers because it helps inform their risk selection, product development, technology and marketing.”

A total of 1,884 agency personnel responded to this year’s survey, co-sponsored by Insurance Journal and conducted between Feb. 1 and March 31. Respondents ranging from principals to producers to CSRs answered 100 questions about personal lines and commercial lines carriers.

For more information on the 50-plus-page report as well accompanying raw data and other ancillary research products, contact John Campbell, principal of Channel Harvest, at john@channelharvest.com.

Source: Channel Harvest

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Latest Comments

  • April 14, 2016 at 3:00 pm
    Agent says:
    When I have my annual reviews with marketing reps of my carriers, they want me to give them the straight scoop, not tell them the politically correct things. We are honest ab... read more
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