Speaking at the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA) conference, IIABA Chairman Mike Donohoe said the association is an indispensable partner and guide for independent agents in a rapidly changing world.
“The association has always been there for us, filtering out the bad things that come along,” Donohoe told independent agents at the Big ‘I’ legislative conference and convention in Washington, D.C., this morning. “The changes are coming so much faster now.”
Donohoe said technology is “changing everything.”
He said that “looking back at our association’s history, I noticed that really up until around 2000, we always had plenty of time to deal with the problems and concerns and the opportunities that we had. We could do things the way they have always been done, the old-fashioned way.”
But in 1998, Google was born. Six years later Facebook came to the scene, followed by Twitter, LinkedIn, Google-Plus, and more and more. “Talk about changes. Talk about a revolution and how we are going to do business.”
“I remember how I said I would never buy anything online and I certainly wouldn’t put my credit card out there for the whole world to see. Think about how fast things have changed over the last 14 years, which is really a relatively short time in relation to our history. And think about how we continue to resist it.”
The Value of Belonging to Big ‘I’
From time to time, Donohoe said, “I am asked by agents why they should still belong to our group.”
“Money’s tight, and they question the value. I totally get that,” he said. “But with everything that’s going on, with all the uncertainty that’s out there, I see the value of belonging even more than I ever had.”
“Where do we turn for help? For my money, it’s obvious. Who’s always been there for us? Who gives us the comfort and the safety and the support? Who provides us with information that we know has been vetted, that is solid and can be trusted? The answer is the Big ‘I’. That’s the association’s value. That’s what our members need. That’s why we belong. I couldn’t imagine a future without it.”
Capturing Online Consumers
One of the initiatives highlighted at the Big ‘I’ conference was the project CAP (Consumer Agent Portal). Its programs provide new tools, technologies, training and services that help independent agents attract online consumers. Created a couple of years ago by the IIABA, Trusted Choice, state associations and insurance carriers, CAP is an industry initiative to recapture and expand the independent agents’ share of the personal lines insurance market. Many features are available at no extra charge to member agencies of the IIABA.
“Today, in personal lines, we are certainly not the largest force. But we have two things that none of the direct distribution systems have,” the project CAP CEO Scott Deetz told independent agents at the conference today.
“First, we are the only system that can offer true choice: choice of companies and choice of 22,000 agencies. Second, we are the only system that has an independent advocate for the consumer in time of claim. We have 22,000 businesses, 27,000 locations and over 200,000 professionals in every community in the United States dedicated to helping insurance consumers find the right coverage at the right price.”
“By leveraging our strength in our numbers and our unique value-proposition, we can do things not a lot of larger forces can do. That’s what project CAP is about,” Deetz said. “And where are we at today? In the first 90 days since CAP launched its services, more than 1,000 agencies have signed up to be part of the new TrustedChoice.com and more than 500 agencies have decided to purchase a digital marketing program from the project CAP.”
Three out of four consumers out there are shopping online today, and only one in four consumers doesn’t use the online world when shopping for insurance, he said.
IIABA Chairman Donohoe also noted that “this is an exciting time at the Big ‘I’ and through the project CAP, we will be able to expand the visibility of Trusted Choice independent agents online and help consumers better understand the value and expertise we bring to the table.”
“In the last few months, we’ve launched the Trusted Choice mobile app for consumers and ramped-up our member education on digital marketing. This is not a fad — it’s the future.”