WASHINGTON, D.C., May 8, 2009—InVEST and Facebook are two keys to future of the independent agency system according to a panel discussion hosted by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of American (Big “I”) with industry leaders from Westfield, Liberty Mutual, CNA and Chubb Group.
The panel participants included: Jim Clay, President, Westfield Insurance; Scott Goodby, President of Regional Companies Group Liberty Mutual Agency Markets; John Hennessy, Senior Vice President of Distribution Management, CNA Insurance; Harold Morrison, Executive Vice President and Chief Global Field Officer, Chubb Group of Insurance Companies; and C. Brett Nilsson, CIC, Chairman, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. The discussion was moderated by Meghan McGarry, National Big “I” Young Agents Committee member of Marshall & Sterling Upstate, Inc.
The panel addressed some of the most important issues pressing independent insurance agents and the industry. The wide array of topics included the state of our national economy, the economic challenges facing insurance carriers and the industry, the property-casualty insurance cycle, technology, the need for new talent in the industry and insurance regulatory reform.
The current state of the economy was at the top of the agenda. Hennessey said he doesn’t envy the business environment Young Agents are navigating and that “it won’t be as steep, it will be a shallower recovery.”
Nilsson also discussed current challenges and said that during tough economic times is when clients need independent agents the most. “This is why people need us,” said Nilsson. “There are times when you work really hard to build a book of business, but you see a strain…to me, even though it’s a financial crisis…this is why they hire us.”
Morrison discussed the relationship between the insurance carriers and the agents saying, “We really depend on you as trusted advisors to come back and tell us what customers are looking for.”
Goodby and others also discussed Trusted Choice©, the consumer brand for independent agents and brokers. Goodby said “this is a very important part of our future…this is really important to each of us.” Hennessy said “Brands are about living what you do…you’ve got to walk the walk.” He also noted that he carries a copy of the Trusted Choice© Pledge of Performance with him at all times.
Hennessy encouraged the Young Agents in attendance to put the Trusted Choice© logo on their Facebook pages as a “reflection” of their professional identity.
How carriers and agents can and are using social media peppered the morning’s discussion. Clay said Facebook is not just for young people and that “social media is here to stay.”
“The Big ‘I’ National Young Agents Committee (YAC) encourages young agents – those under 40 years of age or with less than five years experience in the industry – to network, learn and get involved at all levels of the independent agency system,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “This distinguished panel provided our Young Agents with plenty of food for thought in a healthy discussion on a multitude of issues they are currently confronting and will be expected to navigate in the coming years.”
The event took place on May 1 at the Young Agents Breakfast & Presidents' Panel with Big "I" Leadership at the Legislative Conference & Convention.
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, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com.