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Big "I" Recognizes Best Practices Study's Top Performers

Annual Study highlights six agencies from across the country that exemplify the best of the independent agency system.

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Sept. 29, 2010 — Six insurance firms from across the country have been recognized as “Top Performing Agencies” and enjoy the distinction of being included in the recently released Best Practices Study by the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) and Reagan Consulting, an Atlanta-based management consulting firm. 

The six agencies were singled out for their operational excellence, financial results and overall management achievement in their respective revenue-size categories.

“These agencies should serve as models for agencies and brokerages who want to take their business to the next level and experience significant gains in sales, reputation and customer appreciation,” says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of agent development, research and education.

The “Top Performers” include:

• Engle Paxson & Hawthorne Insurance Services, Leesburg, Va.: Located in downtown historic Leesburg, EP&H is an independently owned insurance agency serving the Loudoun County community, Virginia and the surrounding states. The agency has provided insurance solutions to individuals, families and businesses for more than a century. 

• Bridges Group Insurance, Norton, Kan.: Bridges Group Insurance, Inc. is an independently owned insurance agency that has been serving northwest Kansas since 1894. Although it is a full-lines insurance agency, it is an Agri-Business insurance leader in its marketing area. The agency has offices in Norton, Oberlin, Hill City and Winona. Bridges Group Insurance is also a member of Combined Agents of America (CAA).

• Tave Risk Management, Northbrook, Ill.: Tave Risk Management, founded in 2000 by Ruth Tave, provides effective risk management solutions to companies with complex challenges.   With specialty expertise in mergers & acquisitions due diligence, privately held conglomerates, non-profit cultural institutions and environmental risk, Tave Risk Management has earned a reputation for providing unparalleled industry knowledge and experience, coupled with highly responsive and personalized service. The firm’s full range of risk management services includes loss forecasting and allocation, coverage analysis and special projects that address distinct client needs. Tave provides services to companies in the United States and internationally.

• Bigham Kliewer Chapman & Watts, Killen, Texas: BKCW Insurance Agency is a regional independent insurance agency based in Killeen, Texas providing commercial and personal insurance for businesses, families and individuals. The agency also designs risk management programs and employee benefit programs for businesses. The agency has producers located in Killeen, Austin, San Antonio and the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Since its inception in 1952, the agency has operated with the philosophy of doing what is right for the client. BKCW Insurance is one of the 44 member agencies that make up Combined Agents of America (CAA).

• York International Agency, Yonkers, N.Y.: York International is a privately held insurance broker and risk advisor serving the needs of both commercial and individual customers in the New York metro region. The agency, which offers property, casualty, benefits and life products, has developed a strong reputation in a number of industry groups and specialized insurance coverages including the real estate industry, technology industry, importers and executive liability. During the 25 years in business, the agency has enjoyed continued growth and has successfully perpetuated from the founding partners. The principals remain committed to perpetuate in the future to a new generation of partners.

• Barney & Barney, LLC, San Diego, Calif.: Barney & Barney has been providing premier insurance, risk management and employee benefits solutions since 1909. With offices in San Diego, Orange County and the Bay Area, they offer a full range of services and coverages for both businesses and individuals. The firm’s professional staff has attained a high level of influence and industry expertise that enables it to negotiate the most appropriate and cost-effective solutions, all of which is delivered with the high quality personal service that's been the firm’s hallmark for 100 years.

“We are extremely proud of these ‘Best Practices’ agencies,” says Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “They epitomize the professionalism and standard of quality that the industry strives to achieve. That they took the time and effort to participate in the study speaks volumes of its importance to the agency community.”

Twelve insurance companies and four industry vendors that provided financial support for the research and development of the study – Applied Systems, Addis Intellectual Capital, Central Insurance Cos., Chubb, EMC Insurance Companies, Encompass Insurance, Erie Insurance, Great American Insurance Group,  The Hanover Insurance Group, Harleysville Insurance,  Imperial Credit Corporation, InsurBanc, Kemper A Unitrin Business, Liberty Mutual, MetLife Auto & Home, and Zurich North America – were also recognized for their sponsorship. 

Every three years, the Big “I” collaborates with Reagan Consulting to select “Best Practices” firms throughout the nation for outstanding management and financial achievement in six revenue categories (under $1,250,000; $1,250,000 to $2,500,000; $2,500,000 to $5,000,000; $5,000,000 to $10,000,000; $10,000,000 to $25,000,000; and over $25,000,000). More than 1,200 independent agencies and brokers of varying sizes across the country were nominated to take part in the study. Only 224 agencies, the top scoring agencies in each of six revenue groups qualified for selection. Agencies are nominated by either a Big “I”-affiliated state association or an insurance company and qualified based on its operational excellence.

The Best Practices Study was initiated by the Big “I” in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance and create higher valued agencies. The survey and study of leading independent insurance agencies documents the business practices of these “best” agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices. 

Reagan Consulting is a financial and management consulting firm specializing in services to the insurance distribution system. Clients include the leading brokers, agents and bank-insurance programs in the United States. They provide thought leadership to the banking and insurance industries through perennial research, seminars and other industry forums.

Founded in 1896, IIABA 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:


​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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