As we enter the 11th straight quarter of rising commercial rates and a hardening market, agents are seeking solutions outside of their core 5 – 7 standard carriers to help them write business with their clients and prospects. Many of these solutions include utilizing a market access platform, E&S broker/wholesaler and network.
In fact, surveys of independent agents (IAs) have consistently shown that over 70% of agencies use market access providers, brokers/wholesalers and networks to access markets that they do not have a direct appointment with. The portion of business an agent places in alternative market access providers typically is under 10% of an agency’s total book of business.
While direct appointment carrier options are bountiful, many agents struggle to get appointments with certain carriers needed to be competitive in the marketplace. Some of the reason agents struggle to get access to markets include: carrier volume requirements, new agency, new line of business, niche business, carriers are not appointing, lack of an agency business plan and many others.
Like every business decision in an agency, entering into a relationship with a market access provider is an important decision. It requires careful analysis and consideration as it can impact your client relationships, income and profitability, growth, ownership of your expirations/book of business, independence and ability to sell your agency. When selecting a market access provider, agents should consider the following points –
- Ownership of expirations
- Reputation, experience and service standards
- Participation/Access fees
- Contractual requirements – read the fine print
- Volume requirements
- Commission and compensation models
- Termination provisions
Knowing market access is an ongoing issue and in the midst of a hardening market an increasingly growing concern, OIA is planning a series of educational programs for agencies to learn about the aforementioned issues as they consider existing and new market access relationships.
OIA has a comprehensive list of market access, broker and network options on our company partners page for members to consider.
Specifically, the following partners can help you with your market access needs:
- Brokers/Wholesalers – RT Specialty, AmWins, Arlington Roe, Argosy Risk Specialists, Bloss & Dillard, J.M. Wilson
- Networks – Secured Advantage, Keystone, Firefly, Iroquois, SIAA
In addition, your OIA/Big I membership gets you access to Big I Markets, a national market access platform that allows you to place business with no fees, volume commitments and you own the expirations. Some of the markets included in Big I Markets include: Travelers, Safeco, Chubb, CNA, AIG, MetLife, Progressive and many more. For more information, review the Big I Markets Product Guide.