I'm looking for advice on the best route for carrier access as the market is a bit tough right now for direct appointments with Safeco, Travelers, Progressive, etc. I've been licensed for about 12 years selling part time for a small independent. I have a decent book established and I've always had direct access to the carrier websites for quoting and issuing so I would want my name on the policies. I'm in the planning phase of starting my own IA in Washington state and wondering which aggregator, cluster or MGA to consider. Any feedback or suggestions would be great.
Thanks Mark the Broker for your thoughtful insight and advice.
Ok, I'll expand. This is probably the worst insurance market anyone alive has ever seen. Few carriers are making new appointments, but many are non renewing and pulling out of the market.

Each state is different, so do your homework, but my statement is accurate as to the broad U.S. market. Specifically Ca, Ny, and Fl are seeing the worst of it.

With no exaggeration, this is the absolute worst time to be going off on your own. If at all possible wait until things settle down. It looks like we've hit bottom - but who knows when we'll pull out of this tough market.

Basically - what @marindependent said.
Some people are saying this could last the rest of this decade..
Doubtful. Possible but doubtful.

I hope it turns around soon. Frankly, it financially benefits me dramatically if the market stays bad as premiums are going up, referrals due to non renewals are rolling in like crazy, and retention is the highest it's ever been, but this isn't how I want to grow my book.

Don't get me wrong - I'll take the money, and have. But I'd rather the market was good for everyone.
This is the way.
Not even Progressive is giving out appointments these days.

Lots of headaches and different pains that go along with being an agency owner. A solid producer agreement with decent commisions/renewals and opportunity for ownership may be a better option for many these days.