New research

2024 Outlook: How Women in Agencies Are Meeting Customer Needs

Journeys to Leadership: How I Defined My Own Success as a Scratch Agent

In an ever-changing market environment, women in insurance agencies are rising to the challenge.

While the leadership gap persists for women in insurance and across all industries, women continue to outnumber men in customer-facing roles like CSRs and producers. Women make up only 26% of agency principals or owners but over 75% of frontline staff. That means women in agencies are often the first point of contact for customers, guiding them through transactions, advising them on coverages and helping them understand their options.  

New research from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance reveals just how highly regarded these interactions are for consumers and how much value they bring to an agency. In the face of ever-changing market conditions and consumers wanting guidance more than ever before, women in insurance agencies appear to be ahead of the curve in providing it. This raises the question: How can insurance agencies create more leadership opportunities for women that deliver what insurance customers value? 

Our latest research explores the unique strengths women bring to insurance agencies, what consumers want and need from agents and why retaining women is more important than ever.  

Our research on women in insurance agencies

In March 2022, Agent for the Future released The State of Women in Independent Insurance Agencies, which explored some of the unique challenges women in insurance face and how agencies can better support them.  

The following year, Agent for the Future released a 2023 update that examined the leadership gap for women in insurance and provided actionable guidance for insurance leaders to pave better pathways to leadership for women. 

This report summarizes findings from Liberty Mutual’s 2024 Agent-Customer Connection Study. For the study, the research team at Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance surveyed 1,133 independent insurance agency leaders and team members, including 618 women, and 1,110 consumers, including 552 women.  

Having conducted this research for three years, one thing is clear: Women are hugely important to the independent agency system.

Not only are women rising to the occasion to meet the needs of customers in a challenging market, they’re doing so in a way that really resonates. There’s still a lot of work to be done to elevate more women into leadership roles within agencies, to be sure. But it’s heartening to see just how much alignment there is between what the customer wants, the strengths that women agents have and the traits that make an effective leader.  

Vice President, Agent Engagement & Programs, Liberty Mutual Insurance

Consumers want what women in agencies offer

The past few years have brought a lot of unpredictability. Dynamic market conditions, steep inflation and rapidly evolving technology are just a few factors driving big changes in the insurance industry and beyond.  

Listening to customers and understanding the ins and outs of their personal circumstances have taken on new importance. Not only are their lives and coverage options more nuanced, but their perceptions of and tolerance for risk are, too. 

As trusted advisors, agents are in a great position to offer the guidance customers want and need. But customer satisfaction depends not just on what agents do, but how they do it.  

When asked about the traits they value most in an independent agent, consumers cited experience with insurance, responsiveness, ability to help them understand their insurance options, being proactive in knowing client needs and being an excellent listener as the top five. 

Women and men in agencies reported similar strengths when it came to experience with insurance and listening, but women stood out when it came to responsiveness and proactivity. When compared to men, women were more likely to say responsiveness (72% to 64%) and proactivity in knowing client needs (35% to 26%) were among their top strengths. 

The numbers show women’s aptitude in these areas translates into their leadership styles as well. When we looked at female principals and owners in particular, they were more likely than male principals and owners to report making it easy for clients to understand insurance options (67% compared to 59%) and being proactive in knowing their clients’ needs (38% to 24%) among their top strengths. 

Women in agency leadership have the qualities that customers look for – qualities that make them great leaders. In spite of this, our research shows what may be the early signs of a backslide in the number of women in agency leadership roles post-pandemic. Our 2022 research report showed that women made up 31% of owners or principals in insurance agencies. That number decreased to 26% this year. 

With women across agencies so strong in these areas, their lack of representation in leadership stands out as a business risk. We already know that getting more women into leadership roles is good for business, but our research suggests it’s also what customers want.  

Building relationships through trusted guidance and risk forecasting has always set the IA channel apart, but it seems the most successful agencies will be those that double down and make this the center of their culture. And with agency leaders steering the ship when it comes to agency culture, the research shows women are right for the job.

Women insurance consumers and the big market opportunity for agencies

Though women and men seem to value similar traits in an agent, our research did highlight significant gender differences in how insurance consumers experience the world. 

Compared to male insurance consumers, female insurance consumers reported less confidence in their insurance knowledge and a preference for having the advice of an expert when making decisions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that women know less about insurance than men do, but it does suggest that women in particular value the expertise and guidance agents offer. 

Similarly, female consumers reported being less comfortable with financial risk, more worried about bad things happening to them or their families and more likely to want comprehensive coverage for low-probability risk factors. Considering even women who work full-time outside the home bear the greatest responsibility for household tasks and caring for dependents, it’s understandable why concerns about household finances and security are top of mind.  

According to our research, 90% of female consumers surveyed said they are primarily responsible for child and/or pet care. 

Women insurance consumers are by no means a small share of the market, with 85% of the women we surveyed saying they are primary decision makers for insurance purchases. And research shows that women’s purchasing power will continue to grow — data and analytics firm Nielsen predicts that women will own 75% of all discretionary spending by 2028.  

This points to a big market opportunity for independent agents, who offer the counsel and guidance that female insurance purchasers want. And with principals/owners who are women reporting particular strengths around making it easy to understand insurance options and being proactive in knowing their client’s needs, our research suggests women-led agencies might offer a particularly good culture fit for female insurance consumers 

How to help women in agencies thrive 

In a complicated market environment, building trust and loyalty with customers is essential for success. While inflation, supply chain issues and extreme weather events are out of agents’ control, helping customers feel supported is not.  

Women in agencies are delivering on the consumer demand for responsiveness, proactivity and making it easy to understand insurance options. It’s time agencies adequately reward and recognize their contributions to customer satisfaction and agencies’ bottom lines. 

If you’re an agency leader, talking to women in your agency about their career aspirations is a great place to start. Research from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance shows that women often feel they have to prove themselves more than their male colleagues to reach the same level. The skills required for service staff are also great qualities in a leader — empower the women at your agency to dream big and help create clear pathways to get there.  

If you’re a woman in an agency looking to grow your career, make your intentions known. Ask your manager what it would take to get you to the next level, whether that’s having added responsibility or a new title. Even if you’re not 100% sure you have what it takes, be confident you will learn and remember you already have the qualities that customers value.  

Not everyone has dreams of being in a leadership position, and that’s okay, too. Pay equity, benefits packages, parental leave and flexibility are great ways to compensate and reward women’s contributions at every level.  

Retaining women is more important than ever 

When businesses don’t recognize and reward women’s contributions, they risk losing crucial employees. In a 2023 survey by Workhuman, 48% of women surveyed said they feel undervalued at work. Deloitte’s 2023 report on women at work revealed that more survey respondents left their jobs in 2022 than in 2020 and 2021 combined, and lack of flexibility around working hours was one of the top cited reasons.  

No matter the market conditions, people are an essential part of your business and women are a big part of that. Overall, the insurance industry is a great place for women, but agencies can do more to support and empower women in the channel. Prioritizing this will lead to better business outcomes, better customer relationships and better futures for agencies and their employees. 


The 2024 Agent-Customer Connection Study surveyed 1,133 U.S.-based independent agency principals, producers and CSRs, including 618 women; and 1,110 insurance consumers, including 552 women. The research was conducted online by in-house Liberty Mutual Insurance research experts from November 2023 to January 2024. 

Women 2024 1

About Agent for the Future

Agent for the Future is a free resource offered by Liberty Mutual, Safeco and State Auto Insurance to drive success and innovation in the entire independent agent channel. We publish research reports and guides, agent stories, expert insights and more. We also produce the annual Agent for the Future Award every fall. Agent for the Future is open to all independent insurance agents. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get notified when new content and resources are released. 

View more insights from our research on women in insurance agencies

Learn more