Industry analysts predict that small-business owners will spend more than $40 billion on commercial insurance this year-as much as one-third of the total commercial insurance market. Most of this lucrative business is going to a few captive carriers, leaving independent agents and their carriers to divvy up the rest.Yet, consumer studies indicate that small-business customers want a broad choice of products from multiple carriers-something they can't get from a captive agent. What's preventing the independent agency system from snatching such a blatant opportunity?

Often the first place small-business owners look for insurance is to whomever is handling their personal insurance, which is generally a captive agent.

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