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Independent Agent Satisfaction with Carriers at All-Time High

The industry has placed a renewed focus on the independent agency channel, according to a study by the Big "I" and J.D. Power.
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independent agent satisfaction with carriers at all-time high

Independent insurance agents' satisfaction with their carrier partners has reached an all-time high as the industry has placed a renewed focus on the independent agency channel, according to the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Independent Agent Performance and Satisfaction StudySM conducted in alliance with the Big “I."

For the fourth year in a row, the Big “I" and J.D. Power teamed up to measure property-casualty independent agent perceptions of their carriers and more.

In 2021, the overall independent agent satisfaction score surged compared to last year. Among personal lines agents, the overall score is now at 750 on a 1,000-point scale, a significant 18-point increase from 2020. The satisfaction spike among commercial lines agents was even more pronounced, scoring 740 in 2021 to gain 29 points from last year.

Increases in satisfaction with quoting, support and communications, and servicing were the driving factors.

“These changes point to the industry's growing recognition of the independent agency channel's importance in serving property-casualty clients," said Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I" vice president of agent development, education and research. “The challenges our country has faced over the past year and a half have proven how the local, personalized touch of independent agencies is crucial to support communities. We're excited to see how the industry will continue to improve as it refocuses on the independent agent."

Satisfaction rates are significantly higher among agents servicing multiple lines of business, such as health, life and group benefits, than among those who only offer p-c lines. Agents offering multiple lines report receiving increased flexibility and support from their carriers.

“During the past year, some of the industry's most notable acquisitions and operating model investments have thrust the independent agent channel back to the forefront, resulting in improved agent-carrier relations," said Tom Super, head of property & casualty insurance intelligence at J.D. Power. “While carriers still have a long way to go, independent agent satisfaction with carriers has reached an all-time high, with many agents citing better communications with carriers, improved servicing levels and higher satisfaction with digital tools."

Despite high satisfaction, some outliers saw a decline in the quality of agent-carrier interactions. Both large commercial agents—those with more than $500,000 in direct-written premiums—and agents with the smallest books of business—under $15,000 in direct written premiums—reported a decrease in satisfaction.

Why? As accounts grow more complex or as agents require more hands-on training and support, communication proves challenging, the study showed.

Additionally, digital chat and mobile app usage remain low. Digital chat has a 12% utilization rate and mobile app channels have an 11% utilization rate. But among the few who do take advantage of the tools, overall satisfaction is notably higher.

The top personal lines insurers for agent satisfaction scores are Erie Insurance, Auto-Owners Insurance, Safeco, Travelers, Progressive, Chubb and Nationwide. The segment average was 750 points out of 1,000.

The top commercial lines insurers are Auto-Owners Insurance, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual, CNA Financial, Chubb, AIG, Travelers, Nationwide and Progressive. The segment average was 740 points out of 1,000.

AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.  

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Friday, October 29, 2021
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