What are the Most Important Considerations When Choosing an Insurance Agency Network?

May 17, 2022

An independent insurance agent weighing the pros and cons of joining an insurance agency network.Choosing an insurance agency network can make or break your business. Independent agents should consider these four key characteristics of a network before committing to an insurance agency network.

Flexibility

You’re not looking for one-size-fits-all. New agents commonly need help with marketing, staffing, knowing how to start, and especially with making the right connections to obtain carrier contracts. Agents who are well-established might just need access to penetrate a new or niche market — or assistance looking for expansion opportunities. Regardless of your needs, you want to find a partnership that provides valuable assistance at every stage of your business journey.

No Fees

In a recent poll of insurance networks, 81% reported charging their member agencies membership fees, 52% imposed initiation fees, 7% charged renewal fees, and nearly 20% required exit or separation fees when a member agency decided to leave the network.1 

A bar chart showing the percent of networks that charge specific fees.

Ask a lot of questions! You want to find a network without these upfront and recurring fees. Look for no start-up fees. No monthly fees. No exit fees. NO fees period. Look for a generous commission split, as well.

Access to Top-rated Carriers

Learning the ins and outs of multiple companies’ products is daunting. Agents can spend years trying to figure out carriers’ contracts. Find a network partner who not only gives you access, but also helps you navigate the carrier relationship, training you on the nuances of each carrier, helping you track appetite guide changes, underwriting updates, and product enhancements.


Cover of a whitepaper titled "The Power of a Network Partnership for Independent Agents."How do you choose the right agency network partner?

It's not a one-size-fits-all decision. Download this whitepaper for more on the questions agencies should ask, what to look out for in your contract, and how to know if a network’s business model is right for you — as you are now and as you grow. 


An Agent-friendly Contract

Don’t get stuck in a bad contract. You want a non-exclusive contract where you retain your book of business and aren’t held captive to the network when and if you choose to leave.

But what’s the most important consideration when choosing a network, that most agents overlook?

A True Partnership

An independent insurance agent shaking hands with a Smart Choice rep after finding a true partnership with the Smart Choice insurance agency network.Don’t look for a vendor, find a partner.

If you’re an agency operator searching for a network partner, you aren’t just looking for a vendor to provide a service, you are looking for a partner. That’s how Smart Choice® differentiates itself from other networks — a dynamic support team of field leaders who have your back. With roughly 90 territory managers across 45 states, working alongside independent agents every day, Smart Choice has skin in the game to help each agent be successful.

 

I get phone calls with questions on everything from markets to employee issues. “What do you think about this?” Or “I want to steer my agency in this other direction, so where do you think I should start?” I get questions across the board. We work together, and I love it, because it makes us and the agents that much smarter and more successful. —Kim Carney, State Director Arkansas

What Are You Waiting For?

Smart Choice’s partner agencies gain access to carrier appointments, markets, product training, and in-house underwriting help. We stand out in the crowd of agency networks thanks to a dedicated team of regional field leaders offering independent insurance agents guidance and support. Become a Smart Choice partner today and join a network of over 9,000 agents collectively writing more than $11 billion in premiums annually.

Get Started

1https://networksalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/02/Insurance-Networks-Study-FULL-REPORT.pdf 

How do you choose the right agency network partner?

It's not a one-size-fits-all decision.

Each agent’s business model is unique, so your network partner needs to be flexible, and provide the solutions unique to your agency’s needs. Download this whitepaper for more on the questions agencies should ask, what to look out for in your contract, and how to know if a network’s business model is right for you — as you are now and as you grow. 

Download the Whitepaper