It may be obvious to those in the industry that the more satisfied independent insurance agents are with an insurance carrier, the more business they will conduct with that carrier. But the message may not be getting through to some carriers, judging from a survey showing that overall agent satisfaction with the service they receive from insurers is among the lowest of business relationships measured by J.D. Power.

The J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Independent Insurance Agent Satisfaction Study, which was developed in alliance with the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA), evaluates the independent P/C insurance agent’s business outlook, management strategy and overall satisfaction with personal lines and commercial lines insurers in the United States.

The survey reveals that there is a strong relationship between higher levels of independent agent satisfaction and a greater number of business relationships with insurers. Likewise, independent agents that are more satisfied with the service they receive from insurers are more likely to recommend that carrier and place a greater number of products themselves.

Also, overall independent agent satisfaction with personal lines insurers is 733 (on a 1,000-point scale). For commercial lines, that score falls to 720. These are among the lowest overall satisfaction scores in any business study currently conducted by J.D. Power, lagging even financial advisers (737).

“Each of the highest performing carriers in our study have taken different approaches to the market—some have focused on regional success, while others have emphasized price or service,” said Tom Super, director, Property/Casualty Insurance Practice at J.D. Power. “What they all share is a common understanding of the linkage between agent satisfaction and improved business outcomes—recognizing what drives agent satisfaction, then being laser-focused on getting that right.”

Carrier Rankings

In the survey, Auto-Owners Insurance ranked highest among personal lines for the second straight year, with an overall satisfaction score of 800. Progressive (762) ranks second, while Safeco and Travelers rank third in a tie with 737.

Liberty Mutual performed highest among commercial lines for the second straight year, with an overall satisfaction score of 749. Chubb and The Hartford ranked second in a tie with 720.

Support, communication in personal lines and quoting in commercial lines are the keys to agent satisfaction and the key areas for insurers to focus to increase satisfaction, according to J.D. Power.

“A strong partnership between Trusted Choice independent insurance agents and their carriers is critical to achieving a great consumer experience,” said Bob Rusbuldt, president and CEO of the IIABA. “Carriers that focus on ease of doing business achieve high satisfaction scores from agents. Ultimately, carriers that invest in their agent platforms benefit from a distribution force that has more time to spend providing value-added service to customers rather than back-end administrative tasks.”

The study surveyed 1,466 P/C insurance independent agents for a total of 1,561 evaluations of personal lines insurers and 1,193 evaluations of commercial lines insurers that they had placed policies with in the prior 12 months. The study was fielded from September through November 2018.

Source: J.D. Power

*This story ran previously in our sister publication Insurance Journal.