Commercial Markets and the Potential for Growth

Doug Witcher | May 3, 2019

CEO Letter

Doug Witcher, CEO of Smart Choice, a network for independent insurance agentsFor years after we started the Smart Choice Agents Program, we had primarily Property- and Casualty-focused agencies joining us – and to this day, P&C-focused agencies still make up the bulk of our agency partners’ combined premium volume represented in the Program. In this magazine, and elsewhere, we’ve talked over and over about the incentives of adding Commercial business to your book – higher retention rates, higher referral rates, and increased commissions.

But it became apparent that this was a difficult transition for many agents to make – mostly because as independents, agents are often filling a variety of roles already in their agencies. Since Commercial business is more time-consuming to learn and can often be difficult to place, many agents just didn’t find it worth the investment.

So, we decided to put together the Smart Start Program as a way to help agents make this transition, and lead them to higher growth and profitability. Since we first started the program in 2011, we have grown at a rapid pace. Essentially, this program allows our agency partners to have dedicated Commercial underwriters at no cost, to help place Commercial business for them. This eliminates a lot of the learning curve associated with Commercial business and enables agents to gain an understanding of this side of the business. It also assists agents who want the benefits of retention and referrals, by giving them what amounts to their own Commercial producer.

The success of this program has been incredible and has seen growth from $8.9 million in written premium to over $51 million in written premium in just five years. Our overall Commercial program – both in the Agents Program and the Smart Start Program, has seen 20 percent growth in the last five years and accounts for 70 million in combined written premium a year. The growth is a direct reflection of how much interest we’ve seen the independent agency world take in growing this side of the market; as well as how much Smart Choice has invested in people, time, and innovation.

We still view this as a huge addition to any agency, and an important part of thriving as an independent. We live in an age of convenience-driven consumers, who are rapidly evolving as overall patronage. The Commercial growth we’ve seen proves that many agencies are moving this direction, and positioning themselves as leaders in the community when it comes to providing for the needs of consumers. Are you one of them?

 

Cover of Smart Choice Magazine 2019 Issue 3, The Commercial AdvantageDon't let this major opportunity pass you by

We’ve talked over and over about the incentives of adding commercial business to your book – higher retention rates, higher referral rates, and increased commissions. But commercial business is more time-consuming to learn and can often be difficult to place, many agents just didn’t find it worth the investment. However, the Commercial growth we’ve seen proves that many agencies are moving this direction, and positioning themselves as leaders in the community when it comes to providing for the needs of consumers. Are you one of them? Check out the 2019 Issue 3 of Smart Choice Magazine for more.

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