ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, Nov. 5, 2014 — The number of independent insurance agencies has remained stable, the system as a whole is dynamic and business conditions continue to improve, according to the 2014 Agency Universe Study (AUS).
Future One, a collaboration of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) and leading independent agency companies, has released key findings from the recently completed, most comprehensive look at the independent agency system.
“The 2014 Agency Universe Study reveals good news for the independent agency system, including a stable business environment, improving business conditions and that the system as a whole is dynamic,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “The independent agency system remains a growing distribution system that proved resilient during the recent economic challenges.”
The study looks at many statistics about independent agencies operating in the U.S. including their numbers, revenue base and sources, number of employees, ownership, mix of business, diversification of products, technology uses, non-insurance income sources and marketing methods.
“As the Big ‘I’ continues to increase its diversity awareness efforts, the 2014 Agency Universe Study found more progress toward efforts to focus on marketing to a more diverse clientele including efforts directed at specific generations,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, education and research. “Smaller agencies appear to be more focused on serving specific market populations, with nearly half indicating that they focus some of their marketing efforts on Gen X, Millennial and Hispanic markets.”
Other key findings of the 2014 Agency Universe Study include:
• The number of independent agencies is stable. After declining from 44,000 in 1996 to 37,500 in 2006 and remaining stable at 37,500 between 2006 and 2010, the number of independent agencies grew to 38,500 by 2012. In 2014, the estimated total number of agencies remains the same: 38,500.
• Better business conditions. Business conditions continued to improve between 2012 and 2014, as they had between the 2010 and 2012 studies. In 2014, 70% reported increased revenue (for 2013 compared to 2012), compared to 60% in the 2012 study. Many agencies saw increased revenues in both personal lines and commercial lines.
• Social media pros and cons. Agencies are starting to incorporate social media strategies into their marketing, but encountering some challenges. In 2013, 43% of agencies included social media in their marketing activities, primarily to build brand equity among prospects and customers. At the same time, 21% of agencies indicate that marketing the agency effectively on the internet is their top technological challenge (and 46% rank it among their top three challenges).
The 2014 Agency Universe Study used a combination of sources to arrive at the distribution of agencies by size. The distribution represents a decrease in proportion of small agencies (28% in 2012 to 15% in 2014) and an increase in proportion of medium-small agencies (46% in 2012 to 57% in 2014). While the trend was notable prior to 2014, changes in the sources and approach used to estimate the agency universe this year may have also had some influence on the size distribution estimate as well.
The 2014 Agency Universe Study is the eleventh in a series that was first conducted in 1983. Subsequent studies were released in 1987, 1992, 1996 and 2000. Since 2002, the study has been completed biennially. Since 2004, the Agency Universe Study has relied on Internet data collection. Approximately 3,100 agencies were included in the 2014 analysis.
To order a copy of the 2014 Agency Universe Study Management Summary, which provides an overview of the highlights from the complete study, click HERE
or visit www.independentagent.com
In addition to the Big “I”, the Future One coalition includes the following company partners: Allstate Insurance, Allstate Independent Agents, Amerisure Insurance, Central Mutual Insurance Companies, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies, CNA, Encompass, Erie Insurance Company, Foremost Insurance, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Nationwide, Progressive Insurance, Safeco Insurance, Selective Insurance Group, State Auto Insurance Companies, Travelers, and Westfield Insurance.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of approximately a quarter of a million agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.