With 110 mergers and acquisitions of insurance agencies in the first four months of 2014 throughout the U.S. and Canada, this year marks the strongest showing of industry M&As of any comperable period for at least seven years, accoding to an OPTIS Partners survey. Though it is still early to tell, the promise of trends continuing indicates that 2014 could equal 2012′s record-setting year.

“While it’s still early, 2014 could surpass the record set in 2012 if the rest of the year continues to perform as it has through April,” said Timothy J. Cunningham, managing director of OPTIS and NU P&C advisory board member. “Buyers continue to be hungry and aggressive for deals, and there’s a robust inventory of sellers.”

Coming off the record 2012 year, and the re-grouping of early 2013, M&A activity appears to be carrying its vibrant activity level of the latter part of 2013 into the beginning of this year.

On the buy side, privately held buyers and private-equity-backed firms accounted for nearly 80 percent of all announced M&A activity during the first four months of this year. At the same time, all major categories of buyers increased their transaction counts, with the exception of the “all other group,” consisting of banks, insurance companies and others, which declined in 2014.

Industry leaders for M&A include Hub International and AssuredPartners, each having purchased 12 agencies thus far in 2014. 

OPTIS’ report covers P&C agencies, agencies selling P&C and employee benefits coverage and employee benefits agencies.