Independent insurance agents have a lot of choice these days. They typically have relationships with at least a handful of carriers. But, when a piece of business comes their way, they’re usually only considering one or two of those carriers. 

Why? What criteria are they applying? What’s going through their minds when they decide to go with one carrier over another? 

Let’s dig in. 


The obvious, but perhaps misleading, elephant in the room. Sure, commission plays a role when an agent is deciding where to push a piece of business, but within a line of business, commission rates typically don’t vary too much without agents complaining to a carrier and adjustments being made. 

So what else can it be?

Ease of Doing Business

Say one carrier requires an agent to fax over policy application documents, make a phone call and then follow up in a few days. Another carrier has a digital intake form that, once submitted, initiates the application, or even provides a quick quote on their screen instantly.

Which carrier is the agent going to lean towards? 

The easier a carrier is to do business with, the more likely an agent is to push business their way. It’s about accessibility, responsiveness, and simplicity. 

The underlying factor at play here is technology. Carriers that are able to meet agents’ digital expectations will earn more business simply by being technologically easy to work with.  

Policyholder Experience

When an agent sells a piece of business, they’re not just selling a policy. They’re selling an experience to the policyholder. More accurately, they’re selling a digital experience. And if that experience doesn’t meet customer expectations, an agent’s business will flow to other carriers. 

Consciously or not, consumers expect a frictionless insurance experience in line with how they stream music or buy paper towels off Amazon Prime. If it’s hard for a policyholder to access their policy on their phone or to upload photos related to a claim, an agent is going to know about it. And that agent will push future business to carriers that have the modern digital tools that policyholders expect. 


Whether we’re talking about making changes to rate formulas, updating tables or launching new products, carriers operating on legacy systems are doing their agents no favors. In fact, we’d bet that the majority of carriers today aren’t as fast-to-market as they’d like to be. If a carrier is able to quickly make changes to rate formulas, they’re able to remain competitive in the eyes of their agents. When they don’t have to engage external resources to update rate tables or (gasp!) do it themselves, they’re enabling their agents to move faster – which results in more inbound business.  

Make Your Agents Happy, See More Policies

Insurance carriers that are easy for agents to do business with will earn more policies. Those that equip agents and policyholders with modern tools that align with digital expectations will earn more policies. And those that can make updates and launch new products quickly will.. you guessed it… see more business. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why do independent insurance agents often prefer certain carriers over others?

Agents typically prefer carriers that are easier to do business with, those that offer efficient and digital-friendly processes, and those that provide a better policyholder experience. Factors like commission, technological ease, speed of service, and the digital experience offered to policyholders play a significant role in their decision-making process.

How important is commission in an agent’s decision to choose a carrier?

While commission is a factor, it is not the sole determinant. Within a line of business, commission rates usually don’t vary significantly. Agents also consider other aspects like ease of doing business, technology, and policyholder experience.

What role does technology play in an agent’s choice of carrier?

Technology is a crucial factor. Carriers that meet agents’ digital expectations, such as through easy digital forms, quick quoting systems, and efficient policy management tools, are more likely to attract business. Agents prefer carriers that offer modern, technologically advanced services.

How does the policyholder experience influence an agent’s choice of carrier?

Agents are aware that they are selling not just a policy, but an overall experience to the policyholder. If the digital experience offered by the carrier does not meet customer expectations, agents may choose to direct business towards carriers that provide a seamless, user-friendly digital experience.

Why is speed important for carriers in attracting agents?

Speed in updating rate formulas, launching new products, and modifying policies is crucial. Carriers that operate on legacy systems and are slow to adapt can hinder an agent’s business. Faster, more responsive carriers enable agents to be more competitive and efficient, attracting more business.

What can carriers do to attract more business from agents?

Carriers can attract more business by being easy to work with, equipping agents and policyholders with modern digital tools, and being quick to make updates and launch new products. Aligning with agents’ and policyholders’ digital expectations is key to attracting and retaining business.