WASHINGTON, D.C., April 11, 2014 —The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (IIABA or the Big “I”) this week bestowed three prestigious awards at the annual Big “I” Legislative Conference. Mike Wojcik
of Illinois is the 2013 recipient of the Sidney O. Smith Award
. This award is bestowed annually by the Big “I” and the Independent Insurance Agents of Georgia upon an individual agent or broker for outstanding service to his or her peers and the national association in the field of government affairs. It is named in honor of an IIABA past president and Georgia agent who was instrumental in focusing the association and its members on legislative advocacy.
“As chairman of the Big ‘I’ Health Care Task Force, Mike Wojcik’s work has been particularly important as agents and brokers grapple with the upheaval in the marketplace caused by the Affordable Care Act,” said Jon Jensen, Big “I” government affairs committee chairman. “Although the law has created a challenging environment for producers, he has remained positive and sees the opening for well-informed health benefits advisors—and he has seized that mantle with conviction. His work ethic, along with his business and political acumen, are a huge asset to the Big ‘I’ and our entire industry.”
Wojcik is senior vice president and principal of The Horton Group in Chicago. Brad Smith of Tennessee
is the recipient of the 2013 Barney Burns Award
which is named after former Big “I” President Barney Burns, who founded InsurPac in 1975, and served as chairman of its Board of Trustees until 1983. During his tenure, Barney worked tirelessly to educate agents about the importance of being politically active and contributing to InsurPac.
“Much like the award’s namesake, Brad Smith embodies the same relentless work ethic for InsurPac,” said Jensen in presenting the award. “At the conclusion of 2013, he made a strong fundraising push that ultimately helped InsurPac reach the million dollar mark.”
Under his leadership as Tennessee InsurPac chairman for the past five years, his state has regularly reached its fundraising goal and made significant strides. Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin
is the recipient of the 2013 Herndon Award
which is bestowed upon the state association whose legislative achievements the previous year on behalf of IIABA and its members have been deemed most outstanding. The award is presented annually by the Big “I” and the Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois (IIAI). The honor is named after the former head of IIABA’s government affairs operation. Herndon, who died in January at age 91, directed the Association’s Washington D.C. office from 1949 to 1976 and was known as “Mr. Washington” to agents and brokers across America. He is fondly remembered as an extremely effective leader of the Big “I” government affairs and grassroots operations.
“In large part due to the tireless efforts by the Independent Insurance Agents of Wisconsin to significantly increase its outreach and relationship building with federal and state legislators in the past few years, particularly with their Governor, the state proactively passed one of the stronger navigator oversight laws in the country,” said Robert Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “The new law established requirements that include pre-licensing training, licensure or registration as well as regulatory oversight for navigators and those who assist navigators.”
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 approximately a quarter of a million 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