Life Insurance

How satisfied are independent insurance agents with carriers?

Independent agents’ satisfaction with carriers has surged as industry changes have placed a renewed focus on the independent agent channel, according to a new study by J.D. Power.

J.D. Power’s 2021 U.S. Independent Agent Performance and Satisfaction Study, developed in partnership with the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, evaluated the role of independent agents in property-casualty insurance distribution, general business outlook, management strategy and overall satisfaction with personal and commercial lines insurers in the US.

“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 P&C 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 communication with carriers, improved servicing levels and higher satisfaction with digital tools.”

Key findings of the study include:

  • Agent satisfaction hits all-time high. The overall satisfaction score among personal lines agents was 750 (on a 1,000-point scale), up 18 points from last year. Overall satisfaction among commercial lines agents was 740, up 29 points from last year. The increases were driven by gains in satisfaction with quoting, support and communications, and servicing.
  • Overall satisfaction was markedly higher among agents servicing multiple lines of business – such as health, life, and group benefits – than among those who only offer P&C policies. Agents servicing multiple lines also reported increased flexibility and support on the part of their carriers.
  • While overall satisfaction was up in 2021, there were some outliers. Both the largest commercial agents (those with more than $500,000 in direct written premiums) and agents with the smallest books of business (less than $5,000 in direct written premiums) reported a decline in satisfaction. In both cases, agents reported communication challenges as accounts grew more complex and agents required more training and support.
  • The only interaction channels that didn’t show declines in usage in 2021 were digital chat (12% utilization rate) and mobile app (11% utilization rate). While utilization rates remained low for these channels, overall satisfaction was markedly higher for agents who used them.

Read next: Customers find little differentiation among auto insurers – J.D. Power

Carrier rankings

Erie Insurance ranked highest in overall satisfaction among personal lines insurers, with a score of 857. Auto-Owners Insurance (835) placed second and Safeco (761) ranked third.

Auto-Owners Insurance ranked highest among commercial lines insurers for overall satisfaction with a score of 838. The Hartford (777) ranked second and Liberty Mutual (760) ranked third.

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