As an experienced agent — or even a consumer — you know the insurance market is constantly changing. And right now, we are in the midst of a hard market. Many companies face increased costs due to various factors, including the pandemic, record-high inflation, shipping and transportation issues, high energy costs, and material shortages. As a result, they are passing these costs on to their customers — the same is true for insurance. Policyholders are suffering in the form of increased premiums and reduced coverage.
For independent agents, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity. While captive agents are beholden to a single carrier (and their rates), independents are uniquely positioned to help clients navigate the complex world of insurance and find the coverage they need at a price they can afford. Independent agents can beat the hard market by tapping into the excess and surplus (E&S) market.
The State of the E&S Market
Because of the challenges agents are facing as they try to place standard coverage, the E&S market is surging. According to a report by the US Surplus Lines Service, the E&S market is growing at an annual rate of 21% and is projected to reach $179 billion by 2023.
Express Markets is Smart Choice’s E&S program. It helps independent agents place coverage that may otherwise be unavailable. Mirroring the market, Express Markets has experienced 173% growth in premiums from 2019 to 2021 and over 70% growth in E&S specialty niche premiums in 2022 alone.
As the insurance market continues to change and become more challenging, independent insurance agents have the opportunity to grow their business by tapping into the E&S market. Hear how four agents have stayed competitive by writing E&S (and paying no fees to do it!) through the Smart Choice Express Markets program. Register to watch the webinar on demand.
Tapping into E&S Markets through Express Markets
The Smart Choice® Express Markets program gives agents direct appointments with carriers, access to multiple carrier options, and the ability to write hard-to-place business. Agents earn 100% of their commissions, pay no fees, and have no production requirements. Tapping into a program like Express Markets gives independent agents an opportunity to thrive. Here’s how:
A Replacement for Standard Coverage Options
Express Markets is able to provide agents with more options when it comes to coverage. This is especially important as more and more carriers no longer offer standard coverage, leave states, or face insolvency.
We're starting to see a trend with the monoline homeowners and are having to move a lot of those. The markets aren't expanding, so we have nowhere else to go but E&S. Since we can pick a la carte with these programs that are in Express Markets, we can match coverages that they have and come to the table with something. And that's the biggest thing, especially with our coastal properties and second homes. These clients want us to have the business, and the E&S allows us to do that or at least give them some type of coverage where the standard market is extinct. —Kyle McMackin, Owner of Main Street Insurance
As inflation continues to impact consumers’ everyday purchases, it’s also affecting insurance premiums. Express Markets can provide independent agents with access to carriers with competitive rates, helping more clients protect their assets and livelihoods.
We have seen rates double on the homeowner’s side. The ‘insurer of last resort’ in Louisiana just took a 67% rate increase. I won't say that we were able to match expiring premiums, but we were able to provide really good coverage for a reasonable premium.
I'm grateful that with our partnership with Smart Choice, we have an outlet where we can find a place for these insureds. And I don't think this is overstating the fact that we are literally helping these people stay in their homes. —Chris Workman, Owner of Workman Insurance Group
Smart Choice is known for providing hands-on expertise and support to the 9,500 independent agents within its network — and the Express Markets program is no different. State directors and territory managers give independent agents research on hard-to-place risks and carrier options, helping independent agents protect one of their most valuable assets — their time.
Our state director and his team have been an extension of our agency. They are very engaging in our agency, and they just go above and beyond. They have made our life a whole lot easier. And just not just placing the business, but with teaching and awareness of where to go with that business. —Todd Henderson, Owner of Carriage Hill Insurance of Knoxville
Expanding into E&S Markets
If you are an independent insurance agent looking for an opportunity to shine in today's challenging market, consider joining the Smart Choice network. Express Markets offers access to 35 E&S carriers for no appointment fees and 100% commission paid directly to your agency.
Visit the Express Markets website to get appointed today.
- Specialty Markets