The strength of the insurance industry in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks was highlighted by William B. Hofmann III, in his farewell speech as president of the Independent Insurance Agents of America (IIAA).
“The role we all play in supporting our nation’s economy and its citizens has been revealed,” he told 1,000 insurance professionals at IIAA’s Hawaii InfoXchange. “Now the world knows what we already know: That our industry is strong, that it is compassionate, and that it is prepared. Our job is to build on that strength.”
Hofmann highlighted several IIAA programs, remarking on the success of each throughout his year as president. In particular he focused on: the attraction of new talent to the industry by the Young Agents and InVEST program; the expanding role of InsurBanc, IIAA’s new Federal thrift bank for agents; the defining abilities of Best Practices to advance agency success; and the introduction of Trusted Choice to brand agency added value to consumers.
Hofmann expressed pride in the association’s preeminence on Capitol Hill in the wake of the terrorist attacks. “It was IIAA the White House called to help assemble an industry briefing with President Bush,” Hofmann said. “And it was IIAA that was called to discuss federal reinsurance options with congressional leaders.” New Jersey agent Thomas B. Ahart, was inaugurated as the 97th president of the IIAA at the association’s Hawaii InfoXchange.
W. Cloyce Anders, president of VFIS of North Carolina and Anders, Ireland & Marshall, Inc., both located in Raleigh, N.C., was installed as president-elect. In his address, Ahart told more than 500 insurance professionals that independent insurance agents must be willing to change to meet today’s market challenges. He said agents need the tools to change, and that IIAA provides these tools via numerous programs.
“If we all stay in the status quo we never go anywhere except backwards,” Ahart said. “Everything surrounding us is about change. We need to look for change and we have to get Young Agents involved and give them the power to make decisions.”
Ahart said he met this week with IIAA’s Young Agent Committee and asked that they develop a strategy on marketing to Generations X and Y consumers. “We need to start listening to what Young Agents say and change how we do business,” Ahart said.
He also endorsed another significant change, IIAA’s new consumer marketing brand Trusted ChoiceSM. “We don’t want to believe the research because it’s change — but we need to embrace the Trusted ChoiceSM branding program,” stressed the new IIAA president.
The new national independent agent branding campaign will allow participating agents to take advantage of an effort to brand themselves as trusted advisors. The campaign will include local marketing and an Internet search engine that will allow consumers to find a local Trusted ChoiceSM agent who can best take care of their insurance needs.
Ahart also said IIAA’s lobbying efforts are helping the insurance industry deal with a potential reinsurance crisis. The IIAA is advocating the creation of a federal reinsurance pool that would cover future claims from terrorist attacks. Many foreign and domestic reinsurance companies have announced that they will not cover terrorism-caused losses beginning next year.
Ahart also lauded IIAA for its efforts to safeguard state regulation of insurance, saying IIAA will work with interested state and federal lawmakers to modernize the state-based regulatory system. Ahart continued by saying that IIAA will be mounting a legal challenge to the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s recent determination that several West Virginia insurance laws should be preempted.
Ahart cited the IIAA and the Independent Insurance Agents Association of New York for creating America’s Survivor Relief Fund, which has raised more than $435,000 to help victims and survivors of the September 11 terrorist attacks.
“We extend our special thanks to the numerous state associations, local boards and agents who generously have donated to the fund,” Ahart said. “We also say thank you to our Canadian and Japanese colleagues who have made generous contributions to the relief fund.”
The new IIAA leader concluded by saying that during the coming year that there will be much to be accomplished in the industry, the marketplace and in Washington. “Your association has never been stronger, and our goals have never been clearer. As your president, I am committed to securing your future, and I have no doubt, no doubt we will succeed.” Ahart said.
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