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Technology Experts

The experts.

Ed-Higgins.jpgEd Higgins has been an active independent agent since 1974. He attained the CPCU designation in 1981.

He automated his agency with Redshaw in 1985 and in 1990 received Redshaw’s fifth national “Take It to The Limit” award for maximizing automation utilization in daily agency operations and achievement of business goals. Ed has had his agency’s automation achievement widely published in various insurance trade journals He currently serves as Immediate Past Chair of the Applied Client Network national User Group and is a user of Applied Systems’ EPIC on-line agency management system product and the Applied Mobile Producer for tablet PC’s and CSR 24.
Ed is a Past President of the Independent Insurance Agents Association of New York (IIABNY) 1995-1996. He has also served at the national level of the on Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, Inc. as State National Director representing New York (1998-2002) and as chair of the Agents Council for Technology (A.C.T.) (1998-2003)
He does insurance agency automation consulting on practical applications of agency automation and other technologies to enhance agency workflow & maximize customer service.
Thousand Islands Agency was among the first agencies in the country to deliver 24 hour claims service to their clients through a creative application of technology. In July, 2001, the agency went to a paperless environment using a digital scanning solution which also allows staff to complete almost every task in the agency without leaving their work-station.
Thousand islands Agency received the inaugural technology Achievement Award sponsored by National Underwriter Magazine in 2008. Ed is a frequent technology and agency management speaker at industry forums specializing in agency valued added concepts.
Ed internally perpetuated his agency to his son and daughter in 2012 and continues to be actively engaged both in the agency and industry forums.  He has promoted the independent agency value added concept in both speaking engagements and in practice, using technology to leverage unique client services. He is currently engaged with the Independent Insurance Agents of New York in building awareness of the value of the independent agent and has participated in webinars showing agents how to deliver value added performance and combat the sales techniques of on-line insurance companies.
Edgar J. Higgins, Jr., CPCU
Thousand Islands Agency
853 James Street
Clayton, NY 13624

2 2016

FlannaganMadelyn.jpgMadelyn Flannagan joined IIABA after 15 years as a senior account manager for a large Northern Virginia independent insurance agency. As IIABA's Vice President of Education & Research, Madelyn uses her extensive knowledge of today's multimedia technology and the independent agency system to assist member agents, association staff, consultants, and insurance consumers in researching and utilizing the vast amount of insurance information available from a multitude of resources.

In addition to her agent advocacy role, Madelyn is responsible for all editorial content and overall direction of IIABA's many web sites. A self-professed "Internet Junkie" she frequently shares her web experiences with others in seminars across the U.S.

She works closely with IIABA's communications department to promote the virtues of the independent agency system and to translate insurance into "real life".

Madelyn serves as IIABA's liaison to Future One's Research Task Force and has been instrumental in the publication of several consumer and marketing studies that help insurance agents and companies better understand the insurance buyer.

Acting as a spokesperson for the association she has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Nation's Business, Entrepreneur, Money, and Ladies Home Journal, and has appeared on the nationally syndicated Wall Street Report, CNN's First Business, ABC's World News Tonight, and Smart Money with the Dolans. She is a published insurance writer, with articles appearing in National Underwriter, Best Review, and IA magazine.

During IIABA's 104th Annual Convention in September 1999, Ms. Flannagan was presented with a Presidential Citation by IIABA's President Bill Greenwood for her work with the association.

Ron-Berg.jpgRon Berg is Executive Director of Big 'I' Agents Council for Technology (ACT) which brings together insurance carriers, software vendors, agents, and other industry associations to advance the use of the most effective business processes and technology. Every resource, tool, and educational insight created by ACT is available free to all Big 'I' member agents thanks to the cooperative efforts of our ACT supporting partners.
Ron’s career covers a wide range of technology and management background in the financial and insurance industries including computer operations, programming, technical support, software implementation, and agency support.  Within his previous employer MetLife Auto & Home, Ron worked to understand agency workflows and technology needs, advising his company on future technology strategies and advocating for effective Real Time agent workflows.  Ron has long been involved with industry workgroups and associations such as ACT, AUGIE, and the Real Time/Download Campaign and is an active presence at user group conferences.

When you're looking for technology solutions for your agency, turn to the Big 'I'
Agents Council for Technology.

Ron Berg
Executive Director
Agents Council for Technology / Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America, Inc.
651-433-5727 (Office)

Last updated: November 2020
AndersonSteve.jpgSteve Anderson wears many hats these days. He has been a licensed independent agent for 30 years and is Executive Editor of The Anderson Agency Report (TAAR), a monthly newsletter dedicated to providing independent agents with the insurance technology information they need to more effectively manage and grow their agencies. He is also president of The Anderson Network, Inc. which was formed to help agents and brokers maximize productivity and profits using practical technology.
Working as a manager and producer in two different independent agencies (one belonging to his father-in-law!) has provided him with a practical understanding of agency internal operations, marketing and sales management, and how an agency can most effectively use technology. Over the years he has handled a full range of clients, specializing in the larger commercial accounts, and continues to maintain his license.
Steve received his Bachelor’s of Arts with a double major in business administration and economics from Taylor University and a Master’s Degree in Insurance Law from Antioch School of Law.
Steve was thrust into the insurance business when his father-in-law, a sole proprietor of an independent agency, became ill and needed help. He received his insurance training at a major insurance company as a commercial underwriter and after a short time joined his father-in-law’s agency. He carved his own niche by receiving post-graduate training in computers, sales training and the practical application of direct response marketing principles.
Steve is a prolific writer who is known for his knack for translating “geek speak” into easily understood concepts. He has written articles for virtually every industry publication. He is Dean of the School of Technology for the IIABA Virtual University and a member of the national faculty for the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors.
Because he fine-tunes his ideas in the real world agents are faced with, Steve is one of the industry’s top technology consultants and speakers. He provides keynote addresses, lectures, seminars, workshops, conference programs and individual agency and company consultations on how to maximize productivity and profits using practical technology.
You can view some current topics at
Steve Anderson
The Anderson Network
P.O. Box 429
Franklin, TN  37065
Phone:  (615) 599-0085

BatesVirginia.jpgVirginia M. Bates is the president of VMB Associates, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in education, agency management, and automation issues.

Virginia Bates has over twenty years of experience consulting to agencies and carriers and managing insurance operations for both a carrier and a large regional agency. She has a background in all property and casualty lines, experience as director of a country-wide underwriting school and direct involvement in many automated systems. As co-founder of VMB Associates Inc., she has worked with many agencies and brokerages on intelligent selection and use of technology, profitability, reducing E&O exposure, internal operations, marketing strategies, merger/acquisition planning and implementation, valuations of books of business and agencies in total, carrier relationships and successful automation.

She speaks often on the evolving exposures and preventive strategies related to automation, web-based sales & service, electronic processing and documentation. She has conducted E&O audits and rehabilitation projects for agencies at the request of E&O carriers such as Fireman's Fund. She developed and produces the Vendor Comparison Workshops that have helped thousands of agencies determine their automation needs and options.
She is a member of ACORD's People and Computers national faculty and Alumni Seminar Team. She is a certified E&O instructor and regularly creates and conducts educational programs for many state agents' associations, carriers and vendor groups. These programs encompass both technical subjects (such as personal and commercial risk management, direct and indirect property coverages, advanced workers comp coverages and rating, and umbrella coverages) and management subjects (such as E&O prevention, business planning, disaster recovery, profitable use of automation, and procedures manual creation and implementation).
Rough Notes asked Virginia to coordinate and edit parts of its property and casualty continuing education materials. This series of intermediate and advanced subjects encompassed over thirty volumes of both personal and commercial subject areas.
Virginia's educational background includes an honors degree from Swarthmore College and graduate work in management science. She is a licensed broker and licensed insurance adviser.
Sample Review Comments (from classes and consulting work):


"Her positive attitude is always inspirational. Her knowledge of material is always enlightening."
"The industry should be proud to have her."
"The Best!"
"Virginia explains everything and she is able to keep it interesting!"
"Excellent - Good sense of humor."
"Real life examples and time went by so fast!"
"Relaxed yet comprehensive"
"She was fantastic!"
"I wish I had Virginia Bates for all my classes"
"I look forward to Virginia Bates teaching seminars"

"I love to have you in our office. Everything seems possible at the end of the day!"

Industry Educator:
Sponsors Include state and national trade associations (IIABA and PIA); national and local vendor groups; carriers, and agencies/brokerages.
Certified Best Practice Leader (IIABA National Program)
Programs for over 30 technical insurance topics (business income, commercial property, all personal lines, umbrella/excess coverage; commercial case studies, etc.)
Programs for Management and Agency Development (E&O loss control; Business Planning; Client Service Improvement; Agency Financial Management etc.)
Massachusetts Licensed Advisor Preparatory Educational program developer and deliverer. 
ACORD’s – Originating member of “People & Computers” National Faculty.
Expert Witness Cases:
Marilee Koval v. Communicare.  Attorney David Mellot, Benesch, Friedlander Coplan ARnoff (Chicago); workers comp process & coverage provisions. (case research, formal report).
Eliza Drews Case.   Attorney Tyler Kolle, Berman & Simmons;  Agent’s duty to secure coverage;  (case research, formal report deposition, pre-trial testimony).
Morse Brothers Incorporated v. Desmond & Payne, Inc. Attorney Ralph Dyer, Law Office of Ralph Dyer; alleged negligence of broker in the procurement of insurance coverage;  (case research,  formal report, deposition, trial)
Insurance24.Com, Inc. and Doucette Insurance, LLC.  Attorney Jeffrey T. Edwards, PretiFlaherty; alleged violation of binding authority; (case research, case in progress).


VU Expert Fact

Virginia Bates provides her time and expertise across the VU platform and serves as an Agency Management, Insurance and Technical Expert.

Virginia M. Bates
VMB Associates Inc.
115 Ashland Street
Melrose, Massachusetts 02176
(781) 665-0623
​127 South Peyton Street
Alexandria VA 22314
​phone: 800.221.7917
fax: 703.683.7556

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