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

by Craig Weber, May 6, 2005


Boston, MA, USA May 6, 2005


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

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.

* Standard Life and AIG invited their independent producers to participate in the survey, which may have influenced how often they were cited as favorites.

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.


% 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 speed 27% 20%
7 Client services provided 27% 37%
8 The way claims are handled 15% 11%
9 Web-based tools provided by carrier 15% 23%
10 Commission cycle time 8% 9%
11 Carrier support for agency management systems 8% 5%
Source: 2005 Canadian Independent Agent Survey n = ~450

of Celent Communications' Life/Health Insurance research service can download the report electronically by clicking on the icon to the left.  Non-members should contact for more information.

Celent 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 based analysts, Celent is uniquely positioned to offer strategic advice and market insights on a global basis. Celent is a member of the Oliver Wyman Group, which is a wholly-owned operating unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies [NYSE: MMC].

Media Contacts

North America
Michele Pace
Tel: +1 212 345 1366

Europe (London)
Chris Williams
Tel: +44 (0)782 448 3336

Asia (Tokyo)
Yumi Nagaoka
Tel.: +81 3 3500 3023

Table of Contents


Boston, MA, USA May 6, 2005

Canadian Independent  Producer Survey

Return to report Abstract


Executive Summary 3
Introduction 5
Methodology 5
Limitations 6
About The Respondents 7
Business Practices And Challenges 10
Carrier Concentration 10
Cycle Time 12
The Data Entry Challenge 13
Use Of Technology 15
How Producers Get Things Done 16
Electronic Data Capture 17
Use of Tools 18
E-Signatures 20
Teleunderwriting 21
Carrier Selection 23
Overall Satisfaction 24
Carrier Choice Drivers 25
Communicating Project Value 27
Help in Prioritizing Initiatives 27
Becoming A Favorite Carrier 30
About the Data 31
The Top Tier 31
Favorite Carrier Reasons 32
Many Paths to Glory? 33
Conclusions 36
Appendix A: Selected Respondent Comments 37
Appendix B: The Survey 40
Objectivity and Methodology 43

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