Here is What’s New with Agency Networks
- August 27, 2019
Agency networks, also known as “aggregators,” “clusters” or “alliances” give their members market access and better profit sharing arrangements. Several of them are busy innovating to bring their members even more value.
Doing business in 31 states, Insurance Pro Agencies has several new offerings. A new program gives agencies direct access to carriers, including binding authority, access to carriers’ websites and direct relationships with underwriters. Agencies also get immediate ownership of their books of business. Their new compensation plan gives agencies 90% of the commissions and profit sharing on their entire book once it exceeds $1 million in premium. IPA has also introduced guaranteed annual bonuses starting at $2,500 for agencies with $500,000 or more in premium. In addition, they are making a limited-time offer of free comparative raters for personal, commercial, and excess and surplus lines business.
Pacific Interstate Insurance Brokers is welcoming Tiffany Bertolini as their new president in 2020, but a lot is going on before then. They hosted their first annual Summer Education Summit for agency principals in August 2019. Attendees participated in a “Meeting of the Minds” breakout session in which they discussed challenges such as technology, marketing and how to recruit staff. They also saw a panel discussion on mergers and acquisitions, a class on emerging technologies, and another class on wildfires and the California FAIR plan. The Meeting of the Minds was so successful that it may become a quarterly event.
PIIB has also joined Agency KPI, a business intelligence platform for carriers, individual agencies and networks. It is designed for collaborative planning, operational efficiency and performance benchmarking. PIIB plans to be actively involved in its development.
Agent Support Network of America (ASNOA) has recently expanded into additional states. They have also developed new training programs for their personal and commercial lines members and wholesalers.
On the technology side, they have ventured into insurtech, partnering with firms such as Hippo and Mile Auto. They have also worked with Agency Revolution to build email marketing and website services that integrate directly with agency management systems. With SocialSurvey, they are offering an automatic review management system. ASNOA negotiated discounted rates for their members to use these services. They plan to add artificial intelligence capabilities that will enable their members to access carrier underwriting guidelines by using chatbots.
On top of that, ASNOA is about to launch an enhanced agency funding program. Offered in conjunction with Live Oak and Agile Cap, the program will help agencies get the funding they need to transition from the captive world to the independent world or to help independent agents start their own agencies.
Premier Group Insurance is taking an approach to the service center model that is new to the agency aggregator industry. Most networks that offer service centers lock their members into use of the center for as long as their contracts last. Premier Group is not doing that; instead, members are not committed to using the service center and may opt in or out, depending on the stage in the agency’s lifecycle. A new agency that is focused on selling to build its book can use the service center, then stop when it can afford to hire its own service staff, then opt back in during subsequent heavy growth periods. Use of the service center will not cost members a significant amount of their commissions.
The group is also hosting a three-day “all agent” meeting in early October. The Blackhawk, Colorado event will feature speeches from leaders at Liberty Mutual and Nationwide, former Insurance Information Institute head Dr. Robert Hartwig, and sales expert Jeffrey Gitomer, as well as several breakout sessions.
Smart Choice®, a network with more than 7,400 agencies and more than 100 carriers, has added new carriers to its Smart Start platforms, including middle markets carriers for commercial and several A+-rated personal lines carriers. They have also added large accounts capabilities for commercial. They have a new website and several additional markets for their Express Markets excess, surplus and specialty lines program.
With regard to technology, Smart Choice® is in the midst of rebuilding its online Agency Business Center. The redesigned portal will give agents one-stop access to market and commission information, training, updates from their carriers, sales incentives, and more. Smart Start is also creating an interactive online training platform for agents to learn best practices and accelerate sales.
These networks are trying new ways to help their members’ businesses grow. Agencies looking to take the next step in their development may want to consider joining one of these organizations.
To see listings of agency networks across the USA, please visit our directory at Agency Clusters | Alliances| Networks Franchises | Aggregators.