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Small-business insurance carriers grappling with the conundrum of whether to take the plunge and sell directly to consumers over the web but fearful of undermining their existing distribution force should consider the possibility of having their cake and eating it, too.

The decision whether to bypass agents and connect with small-business insurance buyers online doesn’t have to be an either/or scenario. Indeed, insurers could conceivably have it both ways, lowering the odds of potential disruption by emerging online competitors, while supporting rather than displacing their exclusive or independent agents.

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