Can’t beat ’em? Join ’em.

Insurance agents have found a new way to fight competition: Join forces.

The Professional Insurance Agents of Ohio is offering professional employer organization services to clients through a new entity, Allied Professional Employer Group, (APEG).

John Koetz, president of W.E. Davis Insurance Agency and a vice president for the new group, says agents were losing business because clients were using PEOs, which already provided group health insurance or retirement plans, for example.

APEG, which enlisted the help of Allied Employer Resources Inc. to provide the PEO services, receives the profits of any sales and pays a service fee to Allied. Insurance agents receive commissions for selling the product.

“They’re viewing it in the same way we offer prepaid legal services or other ancillary services,” Koetz says of agents. “The main difference is this gives them the opportunity to do more worksite marketing, so if they’re offering a PEO they can offer additional services, such as disability insurance from payroll deduction.”

So far, about 150 insurance agencies have shown an interest in the program; some may actively market it while others may use it at times when they’re threatened with a loss of business to another PEO.