Canter Highlights Big “I” Achievements, Praises InsurPac, Government Affairs and ACT
Outgoing Big “I” President Implores Agents & Brokers to Embrace Technology
ORLANDO, Oct. 10—Louise “BeBe” Canter, CPCU, ARM, the outgoing president of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) and the first woman to hold the association’s top leadership post, today outlined the association’s significant progress and achievements of the past year.
Canter told a packed room of nearly 1,000 independent agents & brokers during the opening general session of the 2004 Big “I” Convention in Orlando that she was “incredibly pleased to see so many dedicated committee members step forward to accomplish some amazing things” during her tenure as president.
“If you pause and look at what our committees are doing, both in our longstanding traditional ones and in some of our newer ones, the work is incredible.”
Canter noted that she was particularly excited about the “spectacular success” of InsurPac—the political action committee (PAC) of the Big “I” and the largest property-casualty insurance industry PAC in the country.
“For the first time in our association’s history, the PAC reached the million-dollar mark,” said Canter. “In fact, InsurPac contributions have totaled more than $1.3 million in the current two-year election cycle. That total is nearly a half-million dollars more than any previous election cycle.”
Canter noted that the success of InsurPac provided an additional boost to the association’s strong political credentials on Capital Hill and a boost to help the Big “I” champion its members’ interests.
“More than three years ago, the Big “I” advocated adoption of middle-ground [insurance industry] reforms,” said Canter. “During this time, the association has worked closely with Reps. Mike Oxley (R-Ohio) and Richard Baker (R-La.) and other key leaders to develop a reform plan that retains state oversight while streamlining and modernizing state regulation.”
“Additionally, the Big ‘I’ is at the forefront of national issues such as renewal of terrorism insurance, reauthorization of the crop insurance program standard reinsurance agreement and enactment of needed tort reforms.”
Canter also praised Big “I” efforts in other areas including the Agents Council for Technology (ACT).
“Through ACT, the Big ‘I’ has established a forum in which agents, carriers, vendors and user groups come together to develop technology that will be of realistic use to us in our agencies,” said Canter. “From working on ways that agents can interact with their companies through their agency management system to accomplishing that elusive goal of SEMCI, to publishing a step-by-step ‘how to’ technology training guide for our agencies, ACT has the amazing opportunity to truly influence the technology that will be available to us as agents.”
Canter added, “From a profitability standpoint, to a training standpoint, to having a vital communication link with our clients and with our companies, we all need to fully embrace technology.”
In addition to ACT, Canter also addressed another association technology initiative—the Big “I” Virtual University (VU).
“Today technology is changing the way we take continuing-education and training courses,” said Canter. “The VU is poised to fulfill these needs. From online education courses to an ‘Ask an Expert’ resource and claims service, the VU is an easy and excellent source for meeting not only the quick-reference but also the long-term educational needs of all Big ‘I’ members.”
Canter also noted that the Trusted Choice® consumer branding program is continuing to gain momentum.
“Three years after its launch, Trusted Choice® is building day by day,” said Canter. “Through this brand, we will have a national identity that will intuitively prompt consumers to choose a Trusted Choice® agency for their insurance and financial services needs. It’s a lofty goal, but one that can be achieved through hard work and a long-term commitment to success.”
Additionally, Canter reported on the association’s diversification efforts.
“Today, we are welcoming international members, and looking to diversify our ranks by welcoming more women and minorities into leadership positions and activities,” said Canter. “We also will continue to loudly applaud the efforts of our Young Agents Committee and our InVEST initiatives, both designed to bring young people into our industry and into the agency ranks.”
Canter concluded by saying the strength of the Big “I” comes from its members’ commitment to the association’s success.
“One of the surest signs of our association’s success is the desire of many of our members to serve on our national committees, task forces and in elected positions,” said Canter. “New ideas, new energy and new opinions are what make our association great, and we benefit from this vigor.”
Canter became the association’s 99th and first female president in September 2003 at the Big “I” Convention in Las Vegas. Canter is the senior vice president of Patterson//Smith Associates in Falls Church, Va.
The 2004 Big “I” Convention in Orlando, the association’s annual showcase meeting, runs through Oct. 12. It features the Best Practices Business Symposium; a compelling company CEO panel; a wide variety of innovative continuing-education (CE) classes offering CE credits; several prominent guest speakers; the largest exhibit hall and trade show in the insurance industry; numerous networking opportunities; and many other exciting events.
Founded in 1896, the Big “I” is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance—property, casualty, life and health—as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.