What Is a Brokerage General Agent?

A brokerage general agent is an independent firm or contractor working for an insurance company. A brokerage general agent's main role is to sell one or more insurance products to select insurance brokers. Brokers then sell the policies to their clients. Brokerage general agents can specialize in one segment of the insurance industry or sell policies across a wide range of insurance companies. 

In addition to selling policies, many brokerage general agents provide a wide variety of supportive services for individual brokers: taking online applications, tracking cases, providing immediate policy quotes and answering underwriting-requirement questions.

Brokerage general agents can also provide support for issues that come up over the course of doing business with a client. They often have contacts who are experts in specific types of insurance coverage who they can refer to an independent agent in order to fill any gaps in their knowledge. Usually, independent agents collaborate closely with brokerage general agents.

Key Takeaways

  • A brokerage general agent's main role is to sell insurance products to brokers and to advise individual, independent brokers.
  • Brokerage general agents can specialize in one segment of the insurance industry or sell policies across a wide range of insurance companies. 
  • Brokerage general agents might be part of associations such as the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the National Brokerage Agencies, or the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.

How a Brokerage General Agent Works

A brokerage general agent also operates as an insurance wholesaler with the authority to accept and place applications from, and possibly appoint, independent agents on behalf of an insurance carrier. They usually provide underwriting and administrative services on behalf of the insurers they represent.

Typically, a brokerage general agent can market coverage and services that require specialized knowledge in order to underwrite. They benefit both agents and insurers because such expertise is difficult to find, and it would be more costly to develop the relevant aptitude in-house.

A full-service brokerage general agency can basically function as the complete back office of an independent insurance agent, with their support limited only by an agent's decision to use them to their potential. Their primary role is to provide an efficient, cost-effective and profitable way to solve any insurance challenge an agent would rather not tackle on their own.

How Brokerage General Agents Support Independent Agents

  • Customer service: Provide front line customer service. Answer calls and emails. Reply to your pending status inquiries and work case changes and case requirements.
  • New business: Process new applications, checking for proper forms, missing information, signatures and requirement ordering of exams and physician statements.
  • Requirement processing: Enter all application data including missing and additional requirements received after receipt of the initial application
  • Agent licensing: Handle all agent and agency carrier-contracting matters for agents that will be writing business through the brokerage general agent.

Brokerage General Agent Trade Associations

There are numerous general industry associations and interest groups serving brokerage general agents, including the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA), the National Brokerage Agencies, and the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. These associations lobby on behalf of members' interests, provide professional training opportunities and promote industry best practices.

Brokerage general agents may also belong to niche trade groups targeting their specific industry focus, such as the Society of Underwriting Brokers (SUB) for life insurance or the National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) for health insurance. Many national associations also have regional, state or local chapters.