What is a Brokerage General Agency (BGA)?

Brokerage General Agencies are wholesalers of insurance products, this can be in the Property and Casualty or Life and Health business. They work in a space between dozens of carriers and in this examplethey offer products for life, disability, long-term care, annuities, and health insurance products. Brokerage General Agencies work with financial advisors, who then communicate with their clients. Think of it this way: a Brokerage General Agency is like Costco. Brokerages do not create insurance products; they help the insurance agents gain access to the myriad options available in the marketplace. This process provides smooth and direct access to get quotes and products from carriers.  

The goal of a Brokerage General Agency is to help financial advisors find personalized solutions for the individual needs of their clients. The benefit of working with a BGA is receiving the tools and resources an advisor needs to be an insurance expert. It is the full-time job of a broker to keep track of the most competitive options in the insurance space. Financial advisors, property casualty agencies, and other insurance agents can leverage a BGA’s expertise to analyze an entire industry segment in one phone call.  

What does BGA stand for? 

BGA stands for Brokerage General Agency. In short, Brokerage General Agencies are a one-stop shop for all the solutions to life insurance and health insurance needs. They are a non-biased support team that helps agents bring essential insurance to their clients. When agents grow and excel, the BGA grows with them 

FAQs from Financial Advisors and Insurance Agents: 

How do insurance agents get paid 

Insurance agents are always paid directly from the carriers; the BGA should not get between agents and their commission. BGAs will appoint an agent direct to a carrier at premium street level commission. Meaning, the carrier pays the highest commission levels an agent would receive as if a BGA did not exist in the relationship. For larger producers, a contract can create custom General Agency tracts and bonus commissions for production volumes.  

The bottom line, agents get paid in full while the Brokerage General Agency supports agents in full 

How do BGA’s make their money 

Like other levels in the industry, carriers pay overrides that support the services BGA’s provide. Think of a broker as a consultant to a carrier. They represent the carrier, help agents sell their products, so carriers pay BGAs from the business agents create. Therefore, BGAs can create bonus structures for larger producers. Brokerage General Agencies provide essential services that help make insurance sales more accessible, and carriers pay them accordingly 

Why do insurance carriers not do this themselves 

The short answer is manpower. There are a couple of hundred Brokerage General Agencies in the US, each with dozens, if not hundreds, of employees and sales teams. To replace a BGA internally at a carrier would require them to have an internal system set up to replace BGAs in a staff capacity. Meaning, of the dozens of carriers, each one would need full-time staff in the hundreds to support agents directly. 

Additionally, this would require more leg work for agents. They would need to contact each carrier they want to work with and then analyze products and quotes themselves. Agents have a one-stop shop to go to for help when associated with a Brokerage General Agency. Carriers only pay BGAs as they help agents produce business. It makes a lot of sense when you break it down: BGAs work hard to earn business and study hard to stay up to date on all the best carrier solutions.  

More acronyms. GA, IMO, FMO, BGA. What is the difference?  

There is no shortage of acronyms in the industry, and it can be hard to keep up with them. Here is a summarized breakdown: 

GA – General Agency

General Agencies are independent firms working for an insurance companyBrokerage General Agencies will pay GA’s a higher commission since they do more of the back-office support internally. A perfect example of this is case management. 

Since General Agencies usually work with a team of insurance agents, they tend to have more sales production than solo agents. 

IMO – Independent Marketing Organization 

Independent Marketing Organizations are groups of affiliated BGAs. The Insurance Designers of America is an example of an Independent Marketing Organization, having 56 affiliate BGA partners. In most cases, BGAs are subject to a rigorous interview process before being accepted into an IMO. 

Although the BGA’s partners may be close competitors, being members of an IMO gives them access to high contract levels with carriers, marketing support of a large organization, and camaraderie with their competition. By working together as an IMO, the Brokerage General Agencies have a stronger voice at the carrier level than they do individually.  

FMO – Field Marketing Organization 

Field Marketing Organizations work on the brokerage side of the annuity market. Although they came about primarily in the annuity space, there has been a blurring of the lines with more FMOs offering life insurance and more BGAs trying to sell annuities. 

Field Marketing Organizations offer lead systems, originally moving into marketing more rapidly than BGAs did. They pioneered seminars and dinners to get information on annuities to senior citizens. FMOs also expanded heavily into radio programming, establishing advisors as radio personalities offering financial advice 

What are the drawbacks to working with a BGA 

Insurance agents can only gain from working with Brokerage General Agencies. Many carriers will not allow agents to directly appoint with them. Most BGAs will receive referrals from carrier partners locally that ask them to help independent agents to write their products. In many cases, agents did not have access to write cases directly with the carrier 

Are insurance agents captive to their BGA 

No. Most BGAs prefer to be the only person agents take to the dance, but they understand some situations cause the need to work directly with other carriers. An example of this would be a captive agent, with whom BGAs can work. Many captive carriers will allow their agents and advisors to seek outside solutions for a client that they do not want to write. This allows the BGA to be their backup for a case declined with the agent’s captive carrier. Brokerage General Agencies strive to be the only solution independent agents need so they can work with them long-term for all their insurance needs. 

Why should insurance agents work with a BGA 

Brokerage General Agencies are there for agents; they work as their partner and teammate. Every BGA wants to see agents grow and excel while bringing the best solutions to their clients. The BGAs know it is essential for advisors to access quality products, expert advice, and cost-effective solutions. Brokerage General Agencies keep up to date on markets, trends and continually update their carrier offerings. 

EMG Insurance Brokerage can help. 

EMG Insurance Brokerage supplies a wealth of support services for the growth of insurance agents. We can provide training and point-of-sale services. Point-of-Sale serves to exist to bring the most accurate information to a client. This ensures they have a thorough understanding of a policy being considered and helps agents successfully place complex cases. These are tough cases like estate planning or business buy-sells. We also provide services like underwriting consulting for high-risk clients, sales and solution-based webinars, and other direct support resources. Aside from these hands-on services, there are also on-demand IT services such as easy term quoting tools and electronic applications to allow agents to process general business anywhere, anytime 

EMG Insurance Brokerage processes our client’s carrier appointments and works their case management, too. We are the complete back office and will do the administrative tasks. Contact us today and get the help you need to grow your business today. 


Elizabeth Kusmider
Director of Strategic Life Marketing Initiatives
EMG Insurance Brokerage

Direct 713.507.1015