This case involves a dispute between several owners of an insurance brokerage. It was alleged that one of the partners stole upwards of $2 million by having the managing general agent pay commissions to them personally rather than having payment pass through the company. The managing general agent claimed this was in line with typical industry practice, which requires paying commissions directly to the individual. An expert in insurance brokerage was sought to discuss whether it is customary for managing general agents to pay brokers directly or to pay them through the companies they work for if there is an existing relationship.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your experience in the insurance industry.
- 2. Are there any circumstances in which a managing general agent would pay a broker directly rather than through their company? Please explain.
Expert Witness Response E-008366
I have been an insurance managing general agent (MGA) and president of an insurance agency for 30+ years. I have recruited, trained, and have numerous agreements with various insurance carriers to this day. I have been a life underwriter training council fellow since 1991. I am also an accredited investment fiduciary (AIF), a certified fraud examiner (CFE), a dispute resolution arbitrator, and a qualified neutral under a midwestern state’s rule of standard practices. How payment is handled depends on the written arrangement the MGA established with the insurance carrier and the broker. Many MGAs prefer to pay the broker through their entity as opposed to having the commissions payable to the broker by the carrier. It is entirely based upon the agreements established between the parties. If the checks were paid to the broker from the MGA’s personal checking account instead of from the MGA’s corporate account, that would be very unusual and would raise concerns in my eyes.
Expert Witness Response E-104171
I have been a professional in the insurance industry for 39+ years. I have worked on a number of cases involving insurance industry broker procurement, standards of care, and intermediary duties regarding managing general agents and surplus lines brokers. During my career, I have held positions as an agent, broker, surplus lines broker, and managing general agent. The actions of the partner paying the managing general agent is inconsistent with insurance industry custom and practice. Every insurance agent/broker with whom I have ever worked has their own company set up. If the agency is with whom the agreement/appointment is executed, then the commission income is paid to the agency, not the agent directly. The custom is for the managing general agents to pay the agency/brokerage, with the lone exception being an appointment with an agent/broker who is a one-person shop.