Your clients need insurance. You want to sell them insurance. It sounds simple, but the reality is that it can be very challenging for independent insurance brokers to secure the carrier access needed to meet the needs of their clients. You may be struggling with this issue right now, but with direct market access, you can change your results.
OPPORTUNITY IN THE INDEPENDENT AGENCY MODEL
The independent agency model has huge potential. According to Independent Agent Magazine, Nationwide recently switched from a captive-agent model to an independent-agent model because the carrier realized that only independent agents could deliver the choice that customers want. Consumers crave options, and independent brokers are in the perfect position to provide those options.
Add to that the fact that nearly everyone needs insurance – in fact, most people need multiple insurance policies – and it’s clear that independent agents have the best potential for success.
At the same time, competition is fierce. The 2020 Agency Universe Study found that there were about 36,000 independent property and casualty agents and brokers in the U.S. in 2020. That’s slightly less than the 2018 estimate of 36,500 independent agents. These agents aren’t just competing with each other. They’re also competing with those offering insurance online and in-app, such as direct-to-consumer carriers, non-insurance websites, and sharing platforms with embedded insurance.
Standing out from your competition can be challenging – and that’s assuming you can even secure contracts with insurance carriers.
ACCESSING TOP CARRIERS
As any independent agent can tell you, gaining carrier access isn’t always easy, especially when you’re starting out. Carriers often require industry experience and a book of business that new agents simply haven’t had time to build yet. This can make it nearly impossible to get your foot in the door on your own.
To make matters worse, carriers may require a minimum premium commitment in order to secure an appointment. Meeting the production requirements of various carriers can be difficult – even for established brokers. As a result, some brokers may have to limit the number of carriers they contract with – but that also limits the choices their clients have.
Independent agents are appealing to consumers because they can offer multiple options. Policyholders can feel confident that they’re getting the right policy for their needs, not just whatever one carrier happens to offer. If you take away these choices, you’re taking away the entire point of the independent broker model.
SECURE MORE ACCESS TO CLOSE MORE SALES
Gaining more carrier access can result in more sales. Let’s look at a typical situation to see why.
A prospective client comes to you for help securing an insurance policy. It could be in any line, commercial or personal, but let’s say this is a homeowners policy for a house in a region with substantial natural disaster risk. You’re appointed with a couple of carriers that might provide coverage, so you go to them for quotes. The quotes are a little high because of the natural disaster risk, but it’s the best you can do, so you present the options to the prospect. The prospect is not satisfied with the options you’ve presented and decides to look elsewhere for coverage. You lose the sale, and both you and the prospect have wasted time getting nowhere.
How could this have played out with more carrier access? If you had access to more carriers, you could have provided more options to this prospect. Maybe one of these options would have been perfect, and the prospect would have jumped at the chance to sign. Maybe none of them would have been exactly what the prospect had hoped for, but the prospect would have been satisfied that they’d seen enough quotes to know what was available. Either way, you could have made the sale.
BOOST RETENTION RATES
Beyond the initial sale, you also have to think about retention. Carrier access can help here, too.
If you manage to sell a policy that’s an OK fit but not a great one, how long do you think the policyholder will keep it? Maybe for a while – many people stick with policies just to avoid the hassle of shopping around – but maybe not.
With more carrier access, you can help clients find the best fit, and this can support your retention efforts. And if your clients decide they want to explore their options, they’ll know that you can help them.
CROSS-SELL AND EXPAND INTO NEW LINES AND NICHES
Access to carriers also makes it a lot easier to cross-sell, upsell and expand into new lines and niches. If a homeowners insurance client opens a business, you could feasibly offer business insurance … if you had the right carrier appointment. If his wife needed a life insurance policy, you could easily deliver. If the grown son owned a big rig and needed long-haul trucking insurance, you could help with that too. The options are endless.
YOUR ONE-STOP SOLUTION
While we can all agree that having more carriers is never a bad thing, it’s often easier said than done – unless you have a strong network partner.
Heffernan Network connects its Affiliate independent agencies with more than 700 top regional and national carriers. This includes direct or indirect access to commercial, personal, group health, and life insurance lines, helping you provide the best coverage fit for every client. Heffernan also provides access to exclusive programs for restaurants, wineries, assisted living facilities, and other industries. Not sure which market to go to? Heffernan Network has dedicated Client Relationship Managers who can do the research for you by utilizing our enterprise data on risk type & placement.
Do you want to see how direct market access can change your results? START A CONVERSATION