How to Sell Your Insurance Agency
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how many industries do business, but some companies have experienced a smaller impact. For example, consumers need to purchase both personal and business insurance, regardless of economic conditions.
If you’ve built a successful insurance agency and are considering a sale, you may come across a number of interested buyers. However, managing your business while you find a buyer can feel overwhelming, and you could benefit from the services of a business broker.
A potential buyer needs to understand how the insurance industry operates.
Insurance Industry Factors
The insurance industry is highly regulated, and the product mix will differ from one agency to the next.
The Impact of Regulation
State insurance commissions regulate the insurance industry. The types of product sold, customer disclosures, and commissions allowed must comply with state law. Each agent must be licensed with the state, and complete continuing education requirements.
Regulations can vary greatly, and some states don’t allow the sale of certain insurance policies. A buyer needs to understand the unique requirements of each state where the agency does business.
The mix of products sold can be different from one agency to the next. Here are the most common types of insurance products:
Life and health insurance: This category includes life insurance (both permanent and term policies), health insurance, and possibly dental and vision policies. Many agents build a customer base by selling group insurance policies to businesses.
Investments: A growing number of insurance agents are securities-licensed, and sell products that offer both insurance and investment components. Variable annuities, for example, allow the policy owner to invest in stocks and bonds, and also include a death benefit.
Property and casualty (P&C) insurance: These policies include vehicle insurance, home insurance, and commercial insurance coverage. P&C insurance policies typically generate more frequent claims from customers, and successful agencies need an efficient claims processing system.
An agency focusing on life and health insurance may process fewer, less complex claims. A P&C agency, however, will process far more claims in a given year. Agents who are securities-licensed must meet compliance requirements for both insurance and investments.
The industry is complex, and marketing your business effectively is the key to securing an attractive sale price. To put your best foot forward, discuss your agency with an experienced business broker, who can help uncover your agency’s value.
What Makes an Agency Valuable?
Here are some additional factors that make your agency attractive to a buyer:
Agencies with years of presence in a great location are attractive, because the agency is more visible in the community. Agencies with multiple offices have more credibility with buyers.
The best agencies treat customers well and maintain the relationships for years, or even decades. In many cases, family members and children will purchase their insurance through the same agency. If you have a high level of customer retention, the buyer is more likely to maintain the book of business.
Successful agencies have productive salespeople, and a staff that knows how to quickly address insurance questions and customer claims. A great staff works productively, and the business is more profitable.
Buyers need an effective technology platform that allows them to run insurance illustrations, submit applications to the underwriting department, and to process claims. Sellers need to have the systems in place, and a process for training people on each application.
Other Factors that Impact a Sale
Some agencies own the office space (or own multiple office locations). Your broker can help you decide how to address this issue in a potential sale. The real estate may be included in the agency sale price, or you might be willing to lease the space to the new buyer.
The buyer’s success depends, in large part, on the ability to retain the customer base. Your agency’s sale price may include a down payment, and the balance of the price paid over time (based on client retention). The risk that customers are not retained is a key point of negotiation, and an experienced broker can address this issue on your behalf.
How Brokers add Value
Working with a broker offers a number of other benefits:
Finding buyers: Brokers have a network of pre-screened and vetted buyers. A broker can work the network to find potential buyers who have the financial resources to buy your business. You can avoid the risk of spending time with buyers who cannot make a serious offer or finalize the purchase.
Due diligence: When you find a qualified buyer, a broker can manage the process of gathering documentation for the due diligence process. Brokers know what documents are required, and will manage additional requests made by the purchaser. You can save a great deal of time by handing off the process to your broker.
Price negotiation: Your agency sale may be the biggest financial transaction you’ll ever complete, and you need an expert to represent your interests. Raincatcher applies over 30 years of experience to the pricing and sale of your business.
Insurance agencies are attractive to buyers, and the best agencies build solid relationships with hundreds of customers. Work with Raincatcher to get the highest price for your valuable business, and gain peace of mind.
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