Why You Need Insurance Market Access and How to Get it

insurance market access

As an independent agent, insurance market access is imperative to your business’s success. Whether you’re in need of different market access because you’re looking for more carriers or you need carriers that are more aligned with the goals you’ve set for your agency, you need a partner you can count on. If you’re just coming out of a captive contract, who can you trust to give you the right access to what you want to offer?

Insurance market access is crucial to building a winning agency. Without it, you won’t be able to produce an influential book of business because you won’t be able to offer multiple options for your customers. More quotes mean more business, and the right network can help you find it.

So where do you get the market access you need? Network access partners are the key to opening up your agency to major insurance carriers. Without a partner, your agency will struggle to find the insurance solution that is going to work best for your clients.

Where network access partners step in to help is that they provide market access to the carriers they’ve teamed up with. Each partner is going to be very different, so it’s important to do your research to find out who you’re working with and make sure your goals align with what they can offer your agency.

Choose the Right Partner for Your Agency to Ensure that You Receive Insurance Market Access that Matches Your Goals

A partner can come in a few forms. Alliances or clusters offer benefits for their members along with access to 
top insurance carriers. Clusters use collective bargaining efforts to gain contracts, and they also will usually charge membership and commission fees. Meaning that they get a cut of the money you make selling policies through a carrier they provide access too. They also depend on everyone having the same goal. If one agency isn’t on the same page, or worse, leaves the network, the cluster can face difficulty staying afloat if they’re unable to pick up the slack in revenue.A partner can come in a few different forms. Aggregators are the high-level umbrella term used to describe a group of agencies coming together for mutual support. Aggregators make it easier to obtain appointments and often will provide added incentives to their members. From things like training, technology partners, and communities of independent insurance agents, the partner you work with can do a lot more than just insurance market access — they can help you grow your agency.

Wholesale brokers are another partner you can work with. Wholesale brokers act as liaisons between carriers and independent agents, but they’re not as involved in the process as a cluster will be.  

As experienced independent agents, it will be easier to decide who to work with because they know what’s already worked well in the past. However, just like a new agent, it’s always good to approach a network agency partner with fresh eyes. What was good for your agency ten years ago might not meet the same goals that you’re working towards today.

No matter what stage you’re at in your career, whenever you’re looking into obtaining insurance market access, it’s critical that you put your agency first and find a partner that does the same. What’s most important is your independence. Look for a partner who will allow you to remain 100% independent and doesn’t require first-rights of refusal. It’s also common to see partners who have set standards for the volume an agency does in revenue to be allowed into the group

Make sure you read and re-read the fine print on every contract. You should look for contracts that are still going to have your agency come out on top because that’s your direct path to winning.

You’ll want to look into divorce clauses. What’s the punishment for wanting to leave? Termination fees and non-compete clauses are something you want to avoid because there’s no point in having that over your head if your agency wants to head in a different direction.

Look into the membership fees as well. If you’re a smaller agency, you don’t want to put your agency in jeopardy because you’re trying to manage the cost of fees against the revenue your business is bringing in.

At Indium, we are constantly working with our agency partners to validate our carrier partners. We recognize that over time carrier appetites will change, and our agents’ market needs evolve at the same time. Agencies should see a strong fit with current carrier partners but also understand that new markets will be added over time. Indium is excited to introduce several new carrier partners in the first half of 2019.  

Overall, make sure the partner you choose is providing you with the insurance market access that you need. Your agency has specific goals, so make sure that the market access you’ll receive reflects that. With the right partner, you will be able to remain independent and find success together in a win-win.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in April 2018 and has since been updated.