When I started covering the independent agency beat for NU back in 1981, there was a lot of talk about agents going the way of the milkman or the buggy-whip maker. I didn’t believe that back then—and I still don’t anticipate seeing agents disappear anytime soon.
But that isn’t to say agents don’t have to work a lot harder these days to secure their role in the distribution chain, in terms of convincing both their carriers and customers about the added value they bring to the table.
As for insurers, they expect to see a commitment from their agents as well—not just in delivering a sufficient volume of business but in placing a profitable book with them. Moving business around annually for a small price savings does not spell “partnership” for most carriers.
Many insurers, particularly on the commercial side, also expect their partners to go beyond mere policy-peddling and to be consultative advisors for clients when it comes to risk management and loss control. This lowers frequency, keeps severity under control and enables producers to deliver a higher-quality book of business to their carriers while offering additional value to the client.