COLUMBUS, Ohio – On July 1, Nationwide makes history by completing its 18-month transition to operate as a fully independent agency carrier. More than 99% of the company’s formerly captive agents will transition to Nationwide’s independent agency channel and continue partnering with the company.
Since the company made the announcement to transition to a fully independent model in 2018, new written premium driven by independent agents has increased 35%. Nationwide boasts more than 11,000 independent agents across the country that sell personal lines, commercial lines, agribusiness, excess and surplus and financial services solutions. Nationwide has worked with independent agents since 1929.
This transition comes at a critical time for independent agents. According to a recent Nationwide Agent Authority survey, independent agents say that their biggest challenges are driving new business to keep their agency strong for the future (69%) and maintaining their portfolio of clients due to the economic impact of COVID-19 (62%).
“Despite the challenges associated with the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve made tremendous progress in transforming our business to meet the needs of independent agents and set our former exclusive agents up for success within the independent agent model,” said Mark Berven, President & COO, Nationwide Property and Casualty.
Continuing a legacy of meeting the changing needs of agents and consumers
Nearly 100 years ago, Nationwide began building its Property and Casualty business offering auto insurance to Ohio farmers through exclusive and independent agents, an approach that remained a backbone of the company’s business strategy as it grew to a Fortune 100 powerhouse. As times changed, so did the needs of agents and consumers. Agents wanted more flexibility and choice to grow their business. Consumers began to value more options that they can get from an independent insurance agent.
To address the challenges independent agents are facing in today’s evolving business environment, Nationwide accelerated a variety of transformational investments in both its personal and commercial lines businesses enabling the speed, ease, price stability and competitiveness that independent agents demand.
“Nationwide brings the best of both worlds to the table. We have deep experience listening to our members and offer a broad portfolio that is unequaled by other carriers serving the independent agent market,” Berven said. “At the same time, we’ve been listening to independent agents to understand what they want and need to grow their business.”
“On the personal lines side, we’re redesigning and simplifying our digital operations, improving our pricing and underwriting sophistication, enabling agents with the tools they need and using data and analytics to enhance customer and agent interactions. Our commercial lines team is focused on streamlining the cost of acquisition, accelerating small market underwriting, expanding mid-market capabilities, optimizing servicing, enhancing claims effectiveness and completing our commercial lines technology transformation.”
Cutting-edge technology to help agents build their business
Technology investments have enhanced agent self-service capabilities, allowing customers to pay their bills, check their balances and get quotes, highlighted by tools like Nationwide Express and the Commercial Digital Storefront (with an agent-focused portal rolling out soon). To provide agents with new solutions to meet client demands for personalization, Nationwide expanded its suite of telematics, or usage-based insurance products, including SmartRide and SmartMiles, as well as commercial lines telematics solutions.
“This transition will provide our agents with more flexibility and choice to grow their business in the future,” Berven said. “They will have access to Nationwide’s breadth of products, while receiving more flexibility to diversify their revenue streams and have multiple options to meet the needs of their customers.”
“We celebrate the exclusive agents who helped us build our business in the past, and we’re excited they are joining us in the independent channel on our journey forward,” he added.