Independent agents, by their very nature, are entrepreneurs. They’ve built their businesses from the ground up, one client at a time. Their carrier appointments have been hard won, with each new earned carrier relationship serving as a signpost in the agency’s continued journey.
There comes a point, though, when an agency principal wants more for their business. Every independent agent wants to maximize their premium and their revenue, and they know those goals can be made more achievable with an expanded set of carriers. More insurer partners equal increased opportunity to sell to a wider set of clients, offering customers a broader selection of coverage options and more products to sell in a variety of insurance lines.
Independent agents know that an excellent way to expand their palette of carriers is to join an agency network. While gaining access to a wider panel of insurers is just one of many key reasons to select the right network, it is a popular benefit – and with good reason.
It’s natural to see agency principals wondering, however, whether their carrier relationships could be jeopardized if they join a network.
Such concerns are understandable: As savvy businesspeople, agents would naturally be concerned about risking the appointments they’ve earned. In a complex business, however, the answer to the question of whether you’d be putting your carrier relationships at risk is relatively simple: not if you’re selective and you find the right partner.
Know Your Options
Every agency network works with select insurers in an attempt to deliver the the maximum amount of premium. While all networks have financial goals with carriers, not all of them approach achieving those incentives in the same way.
Some networks insist that you move your book of business to the carriers with which they have established relationships, in order to direct all of the group’s premiums to those partners. Other networks will present members with the option to shift your customers to certain carriers, but will not require you to do so.
The goal, in both cases, is to maximize the amount of commission and profit sharing paid to the member agency. The difference is, some networks will require you to use the carriers they partner with, while others do not.
When investigating different networks, it’s prudent to learn which insurers they work with, and whether you would be expected to follow the network’s lead when it comes to placing your clients’ business.
Additionally, it’s worth seeking out a network that provides your agency much more than profit sharing. Check to see whether the network you’re considering offers you:
- Carrier Relationship Management and Placement Services teams that help you earn more compensation, write more policies, and retain more customers
- Agency Growth Partners who focus on identifying new streams of revenue and who help to build strategic plans to accelerate your business
- Easy-to-use technology that helps your agency make money
- Accounting and billing services, carrier code setup and maintenance, an IT help desk, and staff training for your agency
- Marketing Support Services that help you elevate your agency’s profile and digital presence through website updates and redesigns
- Automated e-mail communications to your customers that help you round more accounts and drive new revenue
When doing your due diligence on which agency network to consider, it’s best to look for a partner that will maximize your compensation while you continue to make the executive decisions managing your carrier relationships.