Canadian Independent Producer Survey: Technology, Services, and Other Drivers of Carrier Choice: Celent

Independent agents say underwriting speed and support are key to their decisions to place business with one carrier versus another.

Independent agents in a new Celent survey stressed speed, new business and underwriting support, and ease of application completion as critical drivers of carrier choice.

“Canadian life insurance agents have unique needs,” says senior analyst Craig Weber, author of the latest Celent report, Canadian Independent Agent Survey: Technology, Services, and Other Drivers of Carrier Choice. “In a market dominated by relatively few players, it�s important for carriers to understand those needs thoroughly, and to offer services and technology that will help generate agent loyalty.”

Weber notes that the top-ranked drivers for Canadian agents are similar to the drivers cited by U.S. agents, but they are not identical (see table below). “Underwriting speed really stands out as a driver,” Weber says. “Agents are results oriented when it comes to new business processes. They want to submit cases easily, have thorough follow-up, and quick decisions that they can communicate to their clients.”

Ranking Of Carrier Choice Drivers
Assume for a moment that your carriers all have identical products at identical prices. From the following list, select the three most important items in terms of your decision to do business with one carrier versus another.
Rank Item % Respondents Voted Top 3
Canadian agents)
Respondents Voted Top 3
(U.S. agents)
1 Underwriting speed 62% 48%
2 New business and
underwriting support
49% 58%
3 Ease of completing
the application
38% n/a
4 Commission rates 31% 32%
5 Marketing and
sales support
29% 53%
6 Policy delivery
27% 20%
7 Client services
27% 37%
8 The way claims are
15% 11%
9 Web-based tools
provided by carrier
15% 23%
10 Commission cycle
8% 9%
11 Carrier support
for agency management systems
8% 5%
2005 Canadian Independent Agent Survey n = ~450

A question about agents� favorite carriers also produced fascinating results. “Six carriers topped the list,” Weber said, “including Standard Life*, Manulife, AIG*, Canada Life, Empire Life, and Transamerica.” Weber says these carriers “appear to offer the right combination of products, pricing, speed, technology and underwriting relationships to produce solid agent relationships.”

The 44-page report, which is based on a survey administered to independent agents in March 2005, also provides detailed insights on a variety of specific technology and service issues. Other key findings discussed in the report include.

  • How “carrier concentration” (i.e., producer willingness to place business with few carriers) varies by line of business.

  • The impact of new business cycle time on policy placement rates.

  • How “old school” tools like telephone and fax are still used by most producers to perform everyday tasks.

  • How producers are willing to use a mix of proprietary and non-proprietary tools for application entry and other tasks.

  • How producers rank typical distribution technology initiatives, such as single ID sign on, proprietary agent portals, and online agent tools.

A table of contents is available online.

About Celent

Celent Communications is a research and advisory firm dedicated to helping financial institutions formulate comprehensive business and technology strategies. Celent publishes reports identifying trends and best practices in financial services technology, and conducts consulting engagements for financial institutions looking to use technology to enhance existing business processes or launch new business strategies. With a team of internationally experienced analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. For more on Celent visit