TucsonNetworking is essential in any business. In the insurance field, it can be critical for the independent agent to be successful or not.
Following last week’s Aon Specialty Product Network Resource Fair, ASPN President & CEO, Jerry Tegan, took time out to address some questions regarding the state of the industry for agents, how ASPN’s services are helping them, and where things are headed down the road.
Q: What were the benefits of the agent/broker session?
A: It is a great thing and is crucial for us. This was something we thought was important, mainly to help us address where we need to be. What is it that our partners (independent agents) need out there to continue to grow, especially in this marketplace today?
Q: What kind of feedback have you gotten from the agents?
A: We’ve had tremendous feedback. Many of the agents that attended were already doing business with one, two or three AON companies, but most didn’t realize the depth of products and programs that could fit a need right now for them in this marketplace.
Q: What are some of the concerns right now for independent agents?
A: Trucking, nursing homes, mold. Their biggest concern I really think, something we all face, is the number of carriers that are exiting books or classes of business. The capacity as a whole is limited where they may have written 4 of 10 accounts six months ago, today, they’re writing 1 out of 10 accounts, mainly to control their capacity programs. The strain on the independent agency network today is to find products, programs and services to take care of their existing clients. The trouble with so many companies exiting business is it is leaving them with really no solution to take care of their insureds. We hope with this 34-plus companies that we have with ASPN, we can help fill some of that void.
Q: It wasn’t so much a negative, but did you feel agents at the session were a little concerned with communication among everyone in the industry?
A: Without a doubt, I totally agree with them. Part of the reason for putting together a resource fair was to address that, not only externally, but also internally. That means bringing together our 30-plus companies more often so they have a better understanding of each other’s products. We have lacked some of that communication in the past in what our companies were doing.
Q: What would you say is the overall health of today’s independent agent across America?
A: I think you’re going to have a mixed bag. I believe we have independent agents right now who happen to be in a given area and are extremely strong, exceeding their goals. They are well disciplined, they’ve built strong relationships throughout the years. They have a great relationship with their clients and they certainly control a significant part of that city they’re in. It certainly isn’t easy, but it is successful mainly by the quality of that operation. I believe we also have agencies that haven’t necessarily built strong relationships with carriers or provider companies like us over the years. All of sudden, they don’t have someone to turn to. They may have been doing business with one or two companies. All of a sudden, those companies exit the market and they’re left struggling now.
Q: What are you looking at as far as next year’s fair?
A: We’ll be going out in the next few weeks on the Internet to all those who attended with a questionnaire to fill out and find out what people liked, what they didn’t, what needs to be changed. We have to have a good array of people. We certainly want independent agents from California to Maine, because each segment of the country represents something different that is happening in the marketplace. What may be crucial for someone in the Midwest may not be that important for someone in California.
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