The Original Master Agency
In 1983 Jim Masiello, owner of Masiello Insurance Agency in Keene, NH, was looking for a way to overcome the two biggest challenges faced by independent agencies: growth and access to markets. Masiello was not interested in acquiring other agencies, so he set his sights on partnering with other independent agents to create a master agency called Satellite Agency Network (SAN). After a group of independent agencies signed on, the master agency was appointed by its first Strategic Partner Company, which saw the potential of the model, and SAN was off and running. With interest from agencies throughout New England, SAN grew quickly as a regional alliance. Local agents found they could remain independent, concentrate on producing profitable business and take advantage of the opportunities usually only afforded to larger agencies producing significant volumes of business.
With the success of SAN, Masiello was encouraged by carriers, associations, industry consultants and existing member agencies to expand the concept nationally. Rather than selling SAN in geographic markets he didn’t know, Masiello developed the idea for a national alliance of master agencies like SAN, each operating in an exclusive territory.
In 1995, this national alliance – SIAA (Strategic Insurance Agency Alliance) – was born. The model was created and successfully tested as a multi-level partnering concept. In 1997, a national marketing plan was put in place with regional presidents signing qualified master agencies in exclusive geographic marketing territories. The regional residents identified large retail agencies around the country, many in growth mode. They explained there was a different model – the SAN model – that could bring them growth without the financial pain of buying agencies, funding branch offices, investing in producers or giving up some independence and control through a merger. SIAA was a natural fit for the prospective master agencies that did not want to sell.
SIAA has a well-established alliance of 49 master agencies covering all 48 contiguous states. The success of the SIAA model was further evidenced in 2018 as it signed the 7,000th independent member agency and reached over $8.1 Billion of in-force premium (projected year-end). For agencies with a desire to grow, the return on membership is significant. Agency prospects go through a due diligence process which includes a review of their financial health and key performance factors (such as management experience, carrier experience, and historical loss-ratios). Existing smaller agencies that join an SIAA master agency become instantly big as they access top national carriers – strategic partner companies. The size of SIAA and the master agencies affords access to markets most smaller local agencies never had before, while retaining control of their own agencies.