One Year Later: ABS Success and What’s Ahead

Ag Brokerage Solutions (ABS) launched just one year ago and is already exceeding expectations.

As market conditions continue to tighten after years of poor carrier profitability, ABS is focused on offering even more solutions in year two.

“It is still early in our journey, but we are on our desired path to become America’s wholesaler of choice for all things agriculture,” said Brent Walker, FMH Chief Brokerage Officer. 

Agriculture exposures present unique challenges. Very few wholesalers have the expertise and focus on this space, and with farm carriers starting to shrink their appetite, it left a lot of rural agents searching for solutions they could offer their customers. 

"One thing we learned early on was that there was a gap in the wholesale market when it came to farm and agriculture risk. A lot of our success to this point has been due to our ability to fill that gap quickly." - Brent Walker, Chief Brokerage Officer

When ABS opened to agents last spring, the brokerage had around 20 carrier partners. Today, that number is over 35 and still growing. Now, with over 500 contracted agents, the ABS team – which tripled in size from a year ago – is building policy packages for everything from high value/high risk property to high mod workers’ compensation. 

“A lot of what we have seen this year has been livestock operations, including hogs and poultry,” said Walker. “We even recently released a quote for a mortality policy on a camel named Clyde!”

One major win from the last year is the addition of an exclusive excess casualty product that agents can only get through ABS. There are over 100 farm-specific class codes available that allow ABS to write excess liability coverage over another carriers’ underlying farm policies. 

“Most admitted carriers are peeling back their comfortability with excess limits over $2m, so agents can come to us, and we can write over the top to make sure that farmers get the protection they need,” explained Walker. He added how ABS was able to gain exclusive access to these coverages because the carrier recognized the team’s combined 400 years of farm & ranch insurance experience.

To ensure comprehensive farm insurance solutions, ABS is taking steps as a Managing General Agent (MGA), looking to launch its non-admitted farm & ranch solution in 2024. This will enable ABS to offer an outlet for small- to medium-sized farm accounts that are having trouble finding an admitted carrier policy offering. 

The FMH Brokerage Division is also currently preparing its new solution for crop-only agents, called Pledge Insurance Advisors, as well as a potential agency network solution. The agency network would enable agents to own their book and retain 100 percent of their carrier commission while joining forces with the network to gain scale and maximize profit sharing revenue. 

FMH President and CEO Shannon Rutledge added, “With all the excitement about what the brokerage area is doing, it is easy to lose sight of the tremendous benefit it provides our core business. Providing these solutions helps promote our crop insurance brand, capabilities, and can help our agents grow and protect their main source of revenue.”

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