NU Online News Service, Dec. 9, 2003, 5:41 p.m. EST – Independent insurance agencies are earning an average of $2,166 to $2,499 in commissions this year on the average group life-health account, depending on agency size, according to the Middleton Letter.[@@]

The newsletter, published by Marsh, Berry & Company Inc., Concord, Ohio, says agencies with less than $600,000 in annual revenue are averaging $2,166 in commissions for each group life-health account, up from an average of $1,936 in 2002. The mean 2003 commission rate is 6.9%.

The average commission has increased to $2,149, from $1,886, with a mean 2003 commission rate of 6.4%, for agencies with annual revenue between $600,000 and $1.5 million, and to $2,499, from $1,906, with a mean commission rate of 5.8%, for agencies with annual revenue over $4 million.

The newsletter found that the average commission fell to $2,218, from $2,389, for agencies with annual revenue of $1.5 million to $4 million. The mean commission rate for big agencies is 6.2%.

Marsh, Berry warns that the 2003 data may not be strictly comparable to the 2002 data. Carol Hammes, the editor who compiled the 2002 data, died earlier this year. Marsh, Berry then bought the Middleton Group and compiled most of the 2002 data.

Marsh, Berry “tracks these things a little differently than we did,” says Patricia Nolan, the author of the commission report. She serves as managing director of Marsh, Berry’s Middleton Services unit.

The 2003 commission rates for group life-health accounts pale in comparison with the rates for commercial property-casualty lines, which range from about 11% to 14%; and for personal p-c lines, which range from about 13% to 14%. Nolan notes, however, that the most profitable agencies tend to get a large proportion of their commissions from group life-health plans.

“It doesn’t seem like much, but there’s not a lot of servicing involved for group accounts, so this business is very profitable,” says Nolan.

An average of 17% of agency revenues are coming from group commissions this year, Nolan reports.