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Plumer-#1Joe Plumeri, head of Willis Group Holdings, launched a broadside at the independent agent community in last week’s National Underwriter, not only citing the potential conflicts for any intermediary accepting contingency fees, but also urging buyers to remember who “independent” agents actually work for.

In his July 19 “Final Say” column (available at http://bit.ly/9KaCVW), Mr. Plumeri, chair and CEO of Willis, wrote that “whether you’re a big global broker…or a local insurance agency…you can only serve one master.  It’s either the carrier or the client.  You can’t work for both.”

Mr. Plumeri argued that those who accept volume-based contingent bonuses from insurers might be tempted to compromise their primary duty to place a client’s business with the best company for the best terms and price, while profitability-based fee deals create a disincentive to provide aggressive claims service.

“Willis, unlike most retail brokers and agents, has planted its flag firmly on the side of its clients,” he added. “That means not taking bonuses from insurance companies that would put us at odds with our clients’ best interests.”

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