Every captive looks to go independent because they’re tired of being told what business they need to write, how much of it they need to write, and who they have to write it through. You want your name on your book of business, and you want to keep your clients by offering multiple quotes that fit their needs. That’s what being independent should be all about.
To write multiple insurance carriers, agents need to have appointments with that carrier. Many networks say they can offer direct appointments with carriers; however, what separates a regular appointment from a direct carrier appointment?
The primary difference
To put it simply, a direct carrier appointment refers to a contract between you — the insurance agent — and the carrier. No middle-man, no in-between. Some networks offer appointments, but don’t specify that it will be underneath their parent code.
“If you don’t have the option to quote it, bind it and issue it with that carrier directly through them with your own code, you don’t own the business,” said Paul Powers, one of ASNOA’s business development representatives. “I don’t care what anyone says. If your agency’s name is not coming up on each policy, but rather the aggregator, then it’s technically their business.”
So how does this effect your daily business? As it turns out, more than one might think.
“I’ve heard horror stories where it take 3 days for a homeowners’ quote, and you’re not working through the underwriter of the carrier, but through an MGA,” said Powers. “Are you dealing with the underwriter and getting a quote that day? Your quote should come as fast as you can put it in the computer.”
As a business owner, time is valuable. If your clients are being forced to wait up to three days for a single quote, how will that effect your retention rate?
So why doesn’t everyone offer direct appointments?
So if direct appointments make that large a difference, why don’t all networks offer that for their affiliates? In essence, because not every preferred carrier is going to give that option, and salesmen rarely want to be transparent about what they cannot offer.
For example, Mercury is one of the largest carriers in California, and offers highly competitive rates and coverage — exactly what clients are looking for. But, because of market saturation, Mercury does not offer direct appointments in California. The solution is writing with a subcode of the aggregator.
“A lot of people are using semantics on their website saying you’ll have direct access to these preferred carriers like Mercury,” said Powers. “That’s great. We can write it for you to, but it will be under our code. We’ll be up-front from the jump and tell you they aren’t giving appointments out, and you can write through us if possible. We’re not gonna use semantics to trick you into thinking you have a direct appointment when you only have an appointment by using our code.”
So as an agent, which one would you prefer? A direct carrier appointment, where you can quote, bind and issue with your own code, or work through a middle-man? Would you rather write codes through the aggregator, or have your book be entirely your own, even if you were to leave? When evaluating networks, make sure you speak with the company’s representatives about exactly what appointments and ownership you want.
Curious about joining an aggregator? Read these reasons why you should join an insurance network.