The independent agency system is showing signs of continuedstabilization in numbers as agencies display greaterdiversification in ownership, a study from the IndependentInsurance Agents & Brokers of America found.

The biannual 2010 Agency Universe Study–a collaboration betweenIIABA and Future One, a coalition of insurance companypartners–indicates that the number of independent agencies remainsstable at approximately 37,500 after a steady decade-long declinethat ended in 2006. When the decline began in 1996, there were44,000 agencies, the study said.

“The 2010 Agency Universe Study reflected the combined effect ofthe recession, which began just as the 2008 study was underway, aprolonged soft insurance market and declining revenues,” saidRobert Rusbuldt, IIABA president and chief executive officer, in astatement. “Despite all of these challenges, many new agencies areforming, typically with a more diverse and younger leadership,demonstrating the strength of the independent agency system and thepotential for growth.”

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