Independent advisors dominate in life but not in CI insurance

By Alain Thériault | October 01 2015 07:00AM

Independent advisors outshone the affiliated agent network in the first quarter in new premium sales in individual life insurance. Yet affiliated agents were ahead in critical illness insurance sales.  

Of the two main distribution channels, independents outperformed affiliated agents in individual life insurance sales, LIMRA data show. New premiums gained 2% for independents and faltered by 1% for affiliated agents in the first quarter of 2015. 

The independent channel’s advantage mainly stems from the efforts of two specific networks: independent advisors and national accounts.  

The first channel is that of independent advisors not linked to a managing general agency. They were the strongest performers in the independent channel in the first quarter of 2015, with individual life insurance sales 9% higher than in the first quarter of 2014.  LIMRA adds, however, that this is the smallest network of the independents, and that its growth comes from one carrier’s results.  

National accounts make up the network of full-service securities brokerage firms. They saw their individual life insurance sales rise by 6% in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter of 2014. This network alone posted sales growth in universal life, whole life and term insurance.  

In contrast, individual life insurance sales generated by the managing general agency channel dipped by 1% in Q1 2015 compared with the same quarter of 2014. This decline parallels that of affiliated agents. The downturn in whole life and term sales impacted results for both networks. 

Critical illness insurance

Advisors in the affiliated agent network still managed to dominate new premium sales growth in critical illness insurance. Sales were up 10% in the first quarter of 2015 compared with the same quarter of 2014. This success is explained by the strong sales results for permanent CI insurance, the flagship product of this distribution channel.  

For independents, critical illness insurance sales increased by 1% during this comparison period. This channel’s efforts were stymied by the downturn in sales of the term CI product, which represents a large portion of the total products distributed by independents.

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