The number of independent insurance agencies has increased, newer agencies are growing and the system as a whole is dynamic, according to the 2012 Agency Universe Study.
The study also documents that independent agencies appear to be increasingly using social media.
Key findings of the study, which is is sponsored by Future One, a collaboration of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) and independent agency companies, include:
- The number of independent agencies has grown. After declining from 44,000 in 1996 to 37,500 in 2006, the number of independent agencies has grown to 38,500 in the past two years.
- Business conditions for independent agencies improved between the 2010 and 2012 studies. In 2012, 60 percent reported increased revenue, compared to 42 percent in the 2010 study.
- Systems and data security are now the most important technology challenges facing agencies.
- Agencies are beginning to use the Internet more to obtain new customers. About 25 percent use Facebook to keep in touch with prospects, and 20 percent use LinkedIn.
“The 2012 Agency Universe Study revealed much good news for the independent agency system, including an increase in the total estimated number of independent agencies and there are patterns indicating that agencies are growing, adding further proof that the system as a whole is dynamic,” said Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “This is great news for the independent agency system and reflects a stable and growing distribution system that remained resilient during the recent economy challenges.”
The study looks at statistics about independent agencies operating in the U.S. including their numbers, revenue base and sources, number of employees, ownership, mix of business, diversification of products, technology uses, non-insurance income sources and marketing methods.
The study also found progress in marketing to a more diverse clientele and developing a more diverse staff, according to Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, education and research. She said approximately half of agencies report having developed plans to meet the needs of emerging markets including women, ethnic markets and the lesbian-gay-bisexual-and-transgender.
The 2010 study found an increase in the number of new small and medium small agencies with minority principals. The Big “I” said the 2012 numbers are generally comparable t those results.
The 2012 Agency Universe Study is the eleventh in a series that was first conducted in 1983. In addition to the Big “I”, the Future One coalition includes the following company partners: Allied Insurance, Allstate, Amerisure Insurance, Central Insurance Companies, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, CNA, Encompass, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Progressive, Selective Insurance Group, State Auto Insurance Companies, Travelers and Westfield Insurance.