Independent Insurance Agencies and Brokerages Set New Records in 2023

Unprecedented Growth and Profitability Signal a Bright Future

In 2023, the independent insurance agency and brokerage channel achieved an unprecedented organic growth rate of 10.3%, marking the highest annual growth since Reagan Consulting began its quarterly growth and profitability study in 2008. This remarkable milestone underscores the sector’s resilience and adaptability in a rapidly evolving economic landscape, setting a new standard for performance and innovation in the industry.

Key Highlights
  • Record organic growth rate of 10.3% in 2023
  • Unprecedented performance across personal and commercial lines
  • EBITDA margins surpassed 23% for the first time
  • Positive outlook for 2024 with similar growth expectations

The growth is a testament to the sector’s robustness, particularly in a period marked by economic uncertainties and shifting market dynamics. Independent insurance agents and brokers have demonstrated an unparalleled ability to leverage technology, innovate, and meet client needs effectively, contributing significantly to this success. Furthermore, the sector’s strategic response to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic has facilitated recovery and enabled it to emerge stronger, leaner, and more profitable.

Looking ahead, the industry’s optimism for 2024 is fueled by the continued strength of the U.S. economy and the sector’s proven resilience over the past several decades. The independent insurance channel’s adaptability and customer-centric approach promise to drive sustained growth and profitability in the future.

Exploring Unprecedented Gains

Growth by Product Line

In 2023, growth was not uniform across the board but was particularly notable in specific product lines. Personal Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance experienced an unprecedented growth rate of 10.3%, a significant leap from the historical growth rates of 2% to 3%. This surge was attributed to rate increases in the homeowners and personal auto insurance markets, driven by inflationary pressures on building costs and rising auto repair and replacement costs.

Commercial P&C also saw impressive growth, with a 10.9% increase, albeit slightly down from its 2022 high. This continued growth in commercial lines was primarily fueled by the extended hard market conditions, marking six full years of a challenging but opportunity-rich environment for insurers.

Group benefits experienced a growth rate of 6.5%, the highest since 2018. While lower than the growth in personal and commercial lines, this increase represents a significant rebound for a sector that plays a crucial role in the broader insurance landscape.

Key Drivers Behind Record-Breaking Year

Factors that Drove Success

Several key factors contributed to the independent insurance channel’s success in 2023. The U.S. economy’s faster-than-anticipated growth, with real GDP growth at 2.5%, created a favorable backdrop for the insurance sector. The persistent hard market conditions, characterized by high rates and premiums, especially in commercial lines, provided a substantial boost.

Key factors include:
  • Economic Growth: A stronger-than-expected U.S. economy bolstered the insurance market.
  • Hard Market Conditions: High rates and premiums in commercial lines drove profitability.
  • Adaptability and Innovation: The sector’s ability to leverage technology and respond to market changes effectively.
  • Customer Focus: A continued emphasis on meeting evolving client needs.

Additionally, the sector’s adaptability and innovative use of technology played critical roles. The ability to respond dynamically to changing market conditions and client needs has set independent agents and brokers apart, enabling them to capture new opportunities and navigate challenges effectively.

Anticipating Continued Growth

Outlook for 2024

The outlook for 2024 remains positive, with the sector expected to replicate its 2023 performance. Survey respondents anticipate an organic growth rate of around 10%, with EBITDA margins pushing 23%. This optimism is supported by the strength of the U.S. economy and the industry’s demonstrated resilience and capacity for innovation.

Ongoing economic conditions, regulatory changes, and clients’ evolving needs will likely influence the independent insurance agency and brokerage channel’s future growth. However, the sector’s track record of adaptability and customer focus positions it well to continue its trajectory of success, making it an attractive area for investment and innovation.

In summary, the independent insurance agency and brokerage channel’s record-breaking performance in 2023 highlights its critical role in the economy and its potential for continued growth. As the sector looks to the future, its ability to adapt, innovate, and remain customer-focused will be key drivers of its ongoing success.