SBA Loans Are Great for Insurance Agencies…If You’ve Got the Time (2023)

When an agency growth opportunity arises, timing and funding are everything.

As an insurance agency owner, if you don’t have personal or investment capital on-hand, you need to find business financing quickly or risk losing out on the opportunity.

A common place for agencies to look for financing is through the SBA. There are many benefits to SBA loans, and lots of agencies are finding that this is a particularly good time to apply for them.

Unfortunately there are some downsides to an SBA loan that borrowers can encounter. One downside we’re hearing about lately is the length of time that SBA loans can take to be funded

A little background on SBA loans

Small Business Administration (SBA) loans are very attractive to agency owners because they’re easily accessible, the application process is relatively simple, and they feature lower interest rates and longer repayment periods than you might find with other lenders.

There are a number of different loan products provided by the SBA. The 7(a) loan program is their primary vehicle for providing financial assistance to small businesses.

Applicants should understand that the SBA doesn’t actually do the lending, though. These federally-backed loans are issued by SBA-vetted, designated intermediary funders like local or national banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions. You apply for an SBA loan through this intermediary funder. If they feel you meet all the SBA’s criteria, that institution will apply for a loan guarantee for you from the SBA.

For collateral, the SBA requires an unconditional personal guarantee from every person with 20% or greater ownership in your agency. The assets you use as collateral can include real estate, office equipment, accounts receivable, inventory, and personal property. If you lack such business assets or you or your business partners are not comfortable putting personal assets at risk to guarantee a loan, you may run into a roadblock with the SBA.

In early 2021, Congress passed an economic aid package that is impacting SBA loans approved between February 1 and September 30, 2021. The SBA will pay the principal and interest on these loans for a number of months with no SBA fees. (This promise is subject to certain limits and can change.) This offer has understandably generated a lot of interest in SBA loans. Unfortunately, it has also caused many backlogs in loan application queues at both the intermediary lender and federal SBA levels.

SBA loans can take longer to fund than borrowers expect

For most lenders, there are four main steps in the lending process: application, approval, closing and funding. What varies from lender to lender is the length of time each step requires, which impacts the overall time the process will take to complete. The size of the loan, its purpose, and the experience level of the lender will also affect the exact timeline for SBA loan funding.

A number of interrelated factors can contribute to longer wait times for SBA loans:

  1. The fact that both the Small Business Administration and an intermediary lender are involved in approving your loan means there are multiple layers of administration, paperwork, and approval. Those steps, and the fact that they're executed by two separate institutions with their own timelines, means that the total time to fund an SBA loan can really add up. Both party’s processes must be completed before funds will be issued to your agency.
  2. The list of documents that the SBA requires as part of its loan application varies depending on the amount of the desired loan, the age of your agency, and the number of borrowers on the loan application. In general, the SBA requires more documentation than some other lenders. If you’re not prepared in advance, the time it takes you to gather up-to-date documentation can lengthen application time and greatly extend the time it takes for your loan to be funded.
  3. In the current economic climate, rendered even less predictable by pandemic-related issues, many people and companies are applying and competing for available loans. This competition has contributed to a backlog of loan applications that are now hung up in the intermediary funder’s and/or the federal SBA’s approval process.

If you don't anticipate the delays involved in each step and factor sufficient wait-time into your overall expectations for receiving funds, the sluggishness of the application and approval process for an SBA loan can be very frustrating. If your loan will be used to finance the purchase of a book or agency, failure to secure funding on a seller's timeline can threaten a deal or cause you to miss a valuable growth opportunity.

There arealternatives to SBA loansfor insurance agency owners

While we don’t offer SBA loans at AgileCap, we regularly inter-refer with lenders who do, so we’re very familiar with the products. We know there are many benefits to SBA loans. We also understand there’s no one-size-fits-all best loan product, and encourage any borrower to consider each and every aspect of a lender and a loan product when seeking funding. The length of time it will take to receive your funds can be a critical variable and must be factored into lender selection

If you find an SBA 7(a) loan is not right for you because you need funding faster than your SBA/local lender partnership can deliver, there are other SBA loan products that you could consider. For smaller loans, of $350,000 or less, you may be able to apply for an SBA Express Loan. The turnaround time for SBA approval of Express Loans is 36-hours, but the vetted lender also has to approve the loan, a process that can add several weeks. In the end, you could still be looking at 30-60 days for funding under either SBA program.

Traditional bank loans are another possibility. A bank may be able to get funds into your account faster than the SBA, but you may need to put up physical collateral or provide a personal guarantee with these lenders as well. Many agency owners are not able or willing to take on such risk.

Another option is a private, specialty lender that will be able to design and deliver a customized loan package on your timeline. The application process for such lenders tends to accommodate tighter funding deadlines. Often a preliminary term sheet can be delivered in 24 hours, and funds can be accessed in as little as 7 to 10 business days.

For those agency owners who are set on an SBA loan but need funding on a tighter timeline than the SBA can meet, specialty lenders can also provide bridge financing. This option allows you to secure specialty funding in the short term – for example to meet a specific deadline for an acquisition opportunity – and later go through the more lengthy application process for an SBA loan. The SBA funds can then be used to pay off the balance due on your shorter-term specialty loan.

It’s never too early or too late to talk about funding options

If you’re considering funding for your agency and you’ve looked into an SBA loan but discovered that the funding timeline is longer than you expected, remember that you can still investigate and discuss other funding options. As a specialty lender, AgileCap’s experienced Lending Advisors will walk you through the process and design a loan that suits all your agency’s needs, especially your funding timeline.

Fill out the form below or click the button at the top of the page to Schedule a Consult.


What does SBA look for to approve a loan? ›

Eligibility requirements

Normally, businesses must meet SBA size standards, be able to repay, and have a sound business purpose. Even those with bad credit may qualify for startup funding. The lender will provide you with a full list of eligibility requirements for your loan.

Is it easy to get approved for SBA? ›

Although it's easier for a small business to qualify for an SBA loan than a conventional loan, the application requires you to provide extensive documentation of your finances. The amount of money you can borrow depends on the type of SBA loan you request.

What are 3 benefits of SBA guaranteed loans? ›

3 Key Advantages of an SBA Loan
  • Collateral and equity are not required. Collateral is tangible; it is something you can touch. ...
  • Longer repayment terms and lower interest rates. The SBA is able to offer loans with longer repayment terms and higher borrowing limits. ...
  • Access to SBA resources.

What do SBA underwriters look for? ›

They will look at inputs such as your business and personal credit score, cash on hand, revenue, profit, cash flow, current debt, and the loan amount requested to understand the amount of debt your business can afford to pay back.

What is the easiest loan to get approved for? ›

Some of the easiest loans to get approved for include payday loans, no-credit-check loans, and pawnshop loans. Personal loans with essentially no approval requirements typically charge the highest interest rates and loan fees.

Are SBA loans difficult to get? ›

Hard to qualify

Although the government guarantee reduces the risk that lenders face when issuing loans to small businesses, you'll still need to meet strict eligibility criteria to get an SBA loan. Typically, you'll need several years in business, strong business finances and a good credit history to qualify.

What will stop you from getting SBA loan? ›

A bad credit score (below 630) likely disqualifies you. Work on building your score before submitting an SBA loan application. Ways to build your credit fast include making frequent payments on accounts, asking creditors for higher credit limits and disputing errors on your credit reports.

What disqualifies you from SBA loan? ›

You may get denied an SBA loan if your business could obtain financing elsewhere or has a wealth of assets above the loan amount requested. You also probably won't get approved if you've had a past default on a government loan. Finally, the SBA disqualifies specific industries, including: Financial institutions.

What is the easiest SBA loan to get? ›

SBA Express

It features the easiest SBA application process and accelerated approval times, plus it offers longer terms and lower down payment requirements than conventional loans.

What is the most common SBA loan? ›

The 7(a) Loan Program, SBA's primary business loan program, provides loan guaranties to lenders that allow them to provide financial help for small businesses with special requirements. 7(a) loans can be used for: Acquiring, refinancing, or improving real estate and buildings.

What is the success rate of SBA loans? ›

SBA loans have a 49% approval rate at small banks. SBA loans only have a 25% approval rate at large banks. 33% of small business owners struggle or fail due to a lack of capital.

How much of a loan does the SBA guarantee? ›

For most 7(a) loan programs, SBA guarantees up to 85 percent of loans of $150,000 or less, and up to 75 percent of loans above $150,000. However, SBA provides a 50% guaranty on SBA Express loans. SBA provides a 90% guaranty for Export Express, Export Working Capital Program (EWCP), and International Trade loans.

Does SBA look at bank statements? ›

After reviewing the financial documents prepared internally by you or your accountant, the SBA lender will look to your business income tax returns and bank statements to verify this information. Your lender will closely review bank statements and tax returns for the last two fiscal years.

Do people get denied for SBA loans? ›

If you've been denied an SBA loan, you are not alone. Less than 50,000 businesses were approved for 7(a) loans in 2022 — and only around 9,000 were approved for 504 loans.

What triggers an SBA audit? ›

Who will be audited? PPP loans in excess of $2 million are automatically triggered for an audit by the SBA.

What disqualifies you from getting an SBA loan? ›

You may get denied an SBA loan if your business could obtain financing elsewhere or has a wealth of assets above the loan amount requested. You also probably won't get approved if you've had a past default on a government loan. Finally, the SBA disqualifies specific industries, including: Financial institutions.

What are the five 5 credit factors the SBA looks at when determining loan requirements? ›

The five C's of credit are character, capacity, capital, collateral, and conditions. We translate the 5 C's specifically for SBA lending below. This is the lender's assessment of the borrower's trustworthiness and willingness to repay the loan.

Why do SBA loans get denied? ›

Personal Credit Score Requirements Not Met

In general, it's recommended to have a personal credit score of 680 or higher to qualify for an SBA loan. If your personal credit score doesn't meet the lender's requirements, your loan will be denied. Applicants that have no credit may also be denied.

How do I get denied for a SBA loan? ›

You have previously defaulted on a government loan or have a tax lien, judgment, or bankruptcy against you. You haven't demonstrated sufficient financial need for the loan. You're in an industry that the SBA does not lend to. You're not considered a “small business.”

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