Florida’s largest privately-held insurance agency, Insurance Office of America (IOA), was recently ranked the nation’s 24th largest privately-held insurance agency by Hale’s Report (August, 2004).
As the third fastest growing agency in the country, IOA reportedly attributes its steady double-digit growth since its inception to the idea of partnering with agents. CEO John Ritenour’s experience in the industry had reportedly convinced him that the traditional form of ownership in an independent agency left a lot of room for improvement. Strong agents rarely had the opportunity to transition to stock ownership, or have a vested interest in the “book” of business they develop after years of working hard and building a substantial client base.
And so in January of 1988, Ritenour founded Insurance Office of Florida in Apopka, Fla., and later changed the name to Insurance Office of America after opening up the first branch in New Jersey.
According to IOA, the idea of partnering with agents and sharing commissions and contingencies was innovative, and when combined with vested interest of the book, it became revolutionary. The belief is that every successful agent wants to own stock in the agency and build value for retirement from the book of business.
“The IOA model is different in many other respects. We believe that it is more cost-effective to keep existing customers than to just write new accounts. This is why we pay the same 60% commission on new and renewal business. We are committed to aggressive yet prudent expansion nationwide to continue the growth and profitability of the company,” said Ritenour. Today, IOA has 15 branch offices throughout Florida, Georgia, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Maryland, and New Jersey.
Ritenour added, “We have committed substantial resources to agency computer networks, employee education, and communication links to maintain and improve our ability to function with consistent systems and procedures with our growing number of branch offices. Our structure and systems are centralized for a total team effort.”
The foundation of IOA was built writing standard commercial lines of property and casualty business. Continued growth has reportedly enabled the company to become a full-service agency catering to all forms of insurance including workers’ compensation, builders risk, bonds, employee benefits, risk management services, employee leasing, personal lines, payroll solutions, and an array of value-added services.
IOA has also diversified to provide other products and services unrelated to insurance but still contribute to overall profitability. These subsidiary companies include Public Entities of America, Payroll Office of America, American Marketing Development, Match-Up Promotions, 3C Studios, Village Fitness, Village Learning Academy, and IOA Properties.
Insurance Office of America (IOA) is headquartered in a newly renovated 80,000 sq. ft. facility in the Longwood Village Shopping Center in Longwood, Fla. Gross commissions are reportedly expected to exceed $50,000,000 by year-end 2005, with total employees and agents exceeding 500, and doubling in the next five years.