Zurich now permits agents to sell its finance and insurance products, the company said Thursday.
It’s a “big change” for the provider, Vince Santivasi, Zurich North America head of direct markets, told Automotive News on March 12, ahead of the announcement.
For more than 50 years, Zurich had sold vehicle protection products directly to dealerships. That will continue despite Zurich adding the agency channel, according to Marie Knight, Zurich North America head of strategic services for direct markets and programs.
“We’re growing our direct sales force as well,” Knight said. She said Zurich added direct sales personnel in 2021 and had new positions for this year.
“We remain steadfastly committed to our robust national sales force,” Santivasi said in a statement.
Santivasi told Automotive News Zurich is embracing agencies because some dealerships’ relationships with agents are too strong for Zurich to make headway pitching products directly.
“There’s several dealers, and dealer groups, that it’s difficult to do business with them,” Santivasi said.
Zurich said last week that its F&I Agency work began in January under Todd Kaminski, Zurich head of business development.
The move comes amid significant buy-sell activity in the F&I agency industry and among agents’ dealership customers. Agency consolidation tends to involve F&I providers buying up agents rather than agencies buying each other, according to industry analyst Gina Cocking, CEO of Colonnade Advisors. She said she expected the trend to continue.
However, Zurich hasn’t adopted this acquisition strategy, according to Santivasi.
Zurich was in “total growth mode” but wanted to work with agents rather than buy them, he said.
Santivasi said the company’s agent hunt was nationwide rather than limited to certain markets, though the insurer would be selective and look for agencies that were a good fit.
“We’re not gonna sign an agent just because they’re an agent,” he said.