Old images die hard. Drop the phrase “regional insurer” in conversation with independent agents and it evokes images of close relationships, ease of underwriting, and in-depth knowledge of the local market. The traditional perception held that the regional insurer was the “Cheers” of carriers: a place where everybody knows your name, the antithesis of the monolithic Big National Insurance Company that expects to be on your top three carrier list but only sends its rep to see you once a year.

Yet while this image may still ring true in some cases, for others, industry changes have turned that stereotype on its head. Small regional carriers have morphed into “super-regionals”; big national insurers are targeting Main Street business and personal lines; and all are leveraging technology to improve ease of use for agents and customers alike.

Ask agents, brokers and even insurers if there’s still a significant difference between today’s regional and national carriers, and the answers you’ll get aren’t as clear-cut as the old stereotypes. However, one axiom remains true: Independent producers still need to represent a healthy mix of both to best serve their clients.

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