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By Susan Toussaint, co-founder of The WorkComp Advisory Group

Relationships between independent insurance agencies and insurance companies are changing and new dynamics accelerate the pace of change. Tighter margins, data analytics, a new generation of entrepreneurs and a focus on consultative sales are all trends that challenge the status quo. 

The big concern for most agencies is how insurance companies will view the role of the independent agency in the distribution chain of insurance products and services in the future. Will web-based, direct-to-employer sales replace agencies? 

 “Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s, carriers relied on independent agents to be their eyes and ears and to present an employer’s risk factors,” said Michael S. Arnold, AAI, vice president of sales and marketing for Summit Consulting, a Liberty Mutual workers’ compensation insurance provider, which manages carriers in 11 southeastern states. “Now, we’re using data analytics to select and price risk, and it will be interesting to see how companies balance technology against the input from the independent agent.”

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