Independent agents and brokers may be more interested in sales support than they were a year ago.

Researchers at Celent L.L.C., Boston, have reported data on that point in a report based on a 2005 survey of 435 independent brokers and independent agents doing business in the United States.

Researchers asked participants to list the top 3 factors influencing their decisions to do business with certain carriers when 2 or more carriers are offering similar products at similar prices.

The percentage naming sales support as one of the top 3 factors increased to 35% in 2005, from 22% in 2004, and sales support climbed to third place on the list of deciding factors, up from fifth in 2004.

“New business and underwriting support” and “underwriting speed” continued to hold the second and third positions.

Commission rates fell to fifth place, from third, although the percentage naming commissions as a key factor fell only slightly, to 27%, from 28%.

In response to another question, participants estimated entering information from electronic applications takes an average of 34 minutes and entering information from paper applications takes an average of 45 minutes.

Streamlined application processes cut the average time to 15 minutes for electronic applications and 23 minutes for paper applications, the participants said.

Celent says it believes participants may be underestimating the amount of time needed to enter electronic application data, but it says producer perceptions should help increase use of electronic applications.