Life insurance was once sold primarily by career life agents, also known as captive agents, representing a single insurance company, and by independent agents, representing several insurers. Now, life insurance is sold directly to the public by mail, telephone, and the Internet. Independent insurance agents have the largest share of the market, followed by affiliated agents.
Worksite marketing is the selling of voluntary (employee-paid) insurance and financial products at the worksite. The products may be sold individually or in groups, and policyholders usually pay premiums through periodic payroll deductions. Worksite sales of life and health insurance totaled $8.3 billion in 2021, up from $7.46 billion in 2020, according to Eastbridge Consulting Group.
According to LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute, total U.S. annuity sales in 2021 increased 16 percent from 2020. Independent broker-dealers were the largest single distributor of annuities, with 27 percent of sales, higher than in 2017 when they accounted for 22 percent of the market. Independent agents accounted for the second-largest share of annuity sales by channel with 19 percent in 2021, about the same as 2017.
|Agency writers, whose products are sold by independent agents or brokers representing several companies—and direct writers, which sell their own products through captive agents by mail, telephone, or via the internet and other means—each account for roughly half of the property/casualty (P/C) market. There is a degree of overlap as many insurers use multiple channels.
AM Best organizes insurance into two main distribution channels: agency writers and direct writers. Its agency writers category includes insurers that distribute through independent agencies, brokers, general agents and managing general agents. Its direct writers category includes insurers that distribute through the internet, exclusive/captive agents, direct response and affinity groups.
*Unspecified distribution channels accounted for the remainder.