One might conclude that commercial lines carriers need to focus on the success of their agency relationships after looking at the results of the latest agency-carrier index by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York Inc. (IIABNY). Results of the latest agency/carrier index indicate that, overall, agencies rated their carriers higher in personal than commercial lines. The finding is a reversal of last summer’s results.

The survey does not explain the approval reversal of personal and commercial lines, but Kathy Weinheimer, IIABNY’s SVP, industry relations and education, says the current economic climate may be a factor.

“The commercial market seems to be hardening slightly, but last summer, during IIABNY’s previous survey, the market was very soft,” she says.

IIABNY’s semi-annual, "Industry Index: The IIABNY Report on Carrier Performance Executive Summary, Winter 2008," evaluated 31 insurers based on agency responses to six key factors:

• Underwriters are empowered, responsive and consistent
• Technology and documentation are easy to use
• Keeps its promises, treats me, my agency and my customers with honesty and fairness
• Treats our relationship as a real partnership
• Field and office personnel have a relationship with me and my customers, and they are very responsive
• Profit sharing and commission arrangements are fair

While personal lines carriers beat commercial lines overall, commercial lines seem to have a leg up in the technology area. Agents were asked what carriers provide technology and documentation that are easy to use. Commercial lines carriers had a higher rating than personal lines:

All personal lines carriers — 73.7
National personal lines carriers — 74.0
Super regional personal lines carriers — 70.5
Regional personal lines carriers — 76.2
All commercial lines carriers — 74.1
National commercial lines carriers — 74.6
Super regional commercial lines carriers — 72.8
Regional commercial lines carriers — 74.9

“Carriers are up to speed on their technology and proprietary Web sites,” Weinheimer tells INN, “but the problem agents have right now is there is no common way to get quotes and do business with multiple carriers.”

She says carriers can solve that issue by getting Real Time ready. “Real Time can go a long way to help the underwriter/agent relationship. The agent can get an immediate response from the underwriter, which in turn puts business on the books faster.

National carriers achieved overall improvement, although in each instance, regional companies continue to rate higher scores than their super regional and national counterparts. Again, the reason is not certain, but Weinheimer points out that, “The negative impact of the economy on some carriers may be creating opportunities for others.”

National (N), super regional (SR) and regional (R) carriers in the index include:

Adirondack Insurance Exchange (R)
Allstate (N)
Andover Companies (SR)
Chubb (N)
Cincinnati (SR)
Countryway (SR)
Kemper (N)
Merchants (SR)
MetLife Auto & Home (N)
National Grange (SR)
New York Central Mutual (R)
Peerless (SR)
Preferred Mutual (SR)
Dryden Mutual (R)
Encompass (N)
Erie (R)
Farmers (N)
Fireman's Fund (N)
Hanover (SR)
Harleysville (SR)
The Hartford (N)
Progressive (
Safeco (N)
Selective (SR)
Sterling (R)
Travelers (N)
Utica First (R)
Utica National (R)
Wausau (N)

You can find more results at http://ny

Exclusive content only available on

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Digital Insurance content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access