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Selling an insurance agency may still be easier than selling an insurance company.

Analysts at Conning, a Hartford-based investment bank that serves the insurance industry, talk about trends in insurance industry mergers and acquisitions in two new reports. In one, analysts look at trends in insurance distributor deals. In the other, analysts look at insurance company deals.

The market for distributors looked better than the market for deals.

(Related: Conning: PPACA Subsidies Look Inefficient)

In 2016, the number of deals involving insurance distribution companies increased to 358, from an average of 348 over the period from 2011 through 2015.

“It appears that sellers remain motivated and, more important, demand for insurance distribution acquisitions remains robust,” the analysts write in a summary of their results.

The buyers are buying distributors to grow, and to acquire relevant technology, the analysts say.

The analysts counted 165 insurer deals with a total value of $33 billion.

The M&A activity level was strong for the property & casualty sector, but “the life sector pulled out significantly,” according to Alan Dobbins, a Conning director.

Conning analysts expect the life and annuity issuer market warm up soon, because companies need to find ways to grow.

They do not expect to see blockbuster health care deals, because of “the recent experience being both unsuccessful and costly.” 

— Read Global M&A Deals in Insurance Distribution Hits $20 Billionon ThinkAdvisor.