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Smart Choice Insurance and Covered by SAGE are two vastly different players in the independent market. Here, we will look at how they square up against each other, and see if Smart Choice agents or Covered by SAGE agents have the upper hand.
Independent insurance agency is not a new idea; iterations of this approach has existed for the past few decades. Unlike the captive market, the independent market sees a lot of new, innovative growth through new players. But the industry also has quite a few old players who have settled into the niche well.
Previously, we’ve compared Covered by SAGE with Goosehead Insurance and Brightway Insurance Franchise. Today, we will look at two such entities: Smart Choice an aggregator with over 25 years in the market, and Covered by SAGE, a relative newcomer looking to disrupt the market.
Who is Smart Choice?
Smart Choice is essentially an insurance aggregator. They don’t give direct carrier access; agents must close business through them. They are one of the oldest aggregators in the industry, with a history spanning over 20 years.
How does Smart Choice insurance make money?
Smart Choice makes money from their commission splits. While agents get 100% commissions on some lines, this insurance aggregator charges 30% on other lines. Additionally, they also charge over $250 per month for access to EzLynx, a P&C rater they use.
How wide is Smart Choice’s market?
Smart Choice has over 25 years in market experience, and as a result, have a wide network of over 100 carriers in 45 states. They also allow multiple lines of business.
Who is Covered by SAGE?
A small operation only a year back, Covered by SAGE is now licensed in over 40 states. They offer multiple lines of businesses for agents. With an investor portfolio of market leaders that built category-defining brands, Covered by SAGE is looking to disrupt the industry with market-leading technology.
Simply put, Covered by SAGE operate as an agency. They offer a “you sell, we service” model that allows agents to divert their energies into areas that acutely impact their growth.
How do Covered by SAGE agents make money?
Covered by SAGE agents, like Smart Choice agents, make money from commissions. While Covered by SAGE does not offer 100% commissions on any lines, their splits are generous, with a 95/5 split across new policies on all lines, and 50/50 on renewals.
How does Covered by SAGE make money?
Covered by SAGE doesn’t have a retail outlet requirement; independent insurance agents can run virtual agencies of their own with $0 investment. They charge $100 per month for access to their carriers, technology, training and in-house licensed service center.
Hence, Covered by SAGE earns from the revenue that the agent generates, intimately tying their success with that of the agent.
How wide is Covered by SAGE’s market?
As of now, Covered by SAGE is appointed with over 70 carrier partners (over 35 for P&C; over 40 for Life), and have affiliations with multiple MGAs. Agents have wide market access. Covered by SAGE agents can also sell commercial lines, life, and health policies.
How does Smart Choice insurance compare vs. Covered by SAGE?
Smart Choice is experienced. They have found a niche they are comfortable with, and it serves them well. However, it isn’t always in the favor of the agent.
Smart Choice is an insurance aggregator, so agents are responsible for everything. This includes servicing obligations, retail outlet maintenance, and other administrative tasks. Additionally, they need to close deals themselves, since they don’t give agents the authority.
Covered by SAGE recognizes that the agent is in their element when doing what they’re the best at: selling. Their business model is tailored around this valid assumption. Agents are provided licensing assistance, carrier appointments, remote servicing teams, marketing support, and more. There is no need for a retail outlet either.
Looking at the economics, Smart Choice looks stronger, but only on paper. While agents can get full commissions on certain lines of business, these are very limited, and Smart Choice charges 30% on other lines. Compared to this, Covered by SAGE offers agents up to 95/5 splits across all lines of business.
Covered by SAGE agents are also guaranteed a buyout of 2x their book value. Smart Choice, on the other hand, has the right of first refusal. This ensures that no one will put in a fair bid, since Smart Choice will buy the book at the end of the day. Coupled with the non-compete, agents can find themselves hamstrung when they hit rough patches.
In a nutshell
Which should you choose?
Smart Choice and Covered by SAGE are vastly different insurance agencies with diverse offering. Smart Choice offers agents full commissions on certain lines, access to 100+ carriers, and an off-the-shelf rater to help agents.
Covered by SAGE offers agents one of the best splits in the market, remote servicing assistance, proprietary tech, and marketing assistance to help them sell more. Unlike Smart Choice, Covered by SAGE also has no retail requirements or servicing obligations.
Looking at all the points presented above, Covered by SAGE emerges as the winner, albeit by a slim margin.
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