Zurich now permits agents to sell its finance and insurance products, representing a big change for the provider, reported Vince Santivasi, Zurich North America head of direct markets.
For more than 50 years, Zurich has sold vehicle protection products directly to dealerships. This will continue; Zurich has just added an agency channel, according to Marie Knight, Zurich North America head of strategic services for direct markets and programs.
The company plans to grow its direct sales force as well and will add positions again this year.
"We remain steadfastly committed to our robust national sales force," Santivasi said in a statement.
Zurich moved to the agency concept, Santivasi said in an interview with Automotive News, because some dealerships' relationships with agents are too strong for Zurich pitch its products directly.
Zurich’s F&I Agency work began in January under Todd Kaminski, Zurich head of business development.
The move comes at a time when there is significant buy-sell activity among agents and dealerships. Agency consolidation often involves F&I providers buying up agents rather than agencies buying each other, according to industry analyst Gina Cocking, CEO of Colonnade Advisors.
However, Zurich hasn't adopted this acquisition strategy, according to Santivasi.
He says Zurich is in "total growth mode" but wanted to collaborate with agents rather than buy them.
Santivasi said the company's agent hunt was nationwide but indicated the insurer would be selective and look for agencies that were a good fit.