“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." —John F. Kennedy
I have written a lot about change at the Big I during my three years as CEO. In spite of a strong lineup of products and services that we offer to you as members, we understand that we cannot remain stagnant as our industry continues to change.
What I am about to say next will come as a shock to some of our members, but it is an absolute necessity as we continue to evolve. We have sold the Big I headquarters building and will be moving into a smaller, modern space in April. Our new office will be in Meridian Mark I office complex, located at 116th Street and US 31 in Carmel. This decision was not taken lightly and was thoroughly vetted and researched. The process took nearly two years and included the formation of a task force of volunteers to examine the pros and cons of a move. After the board approved the decision the building was officially sold.
You will be provided with more details as we get closer to our move date. There are a couple of basic reasons why this course of action makes sense. While our meeting space in the building is a big asset, with the increased availability of online education, we don't host the number of classes that we used to. We simply don't use it enough to justify the labor and expense of keeping it. Also, the building is in need of a number of capital improvements that would come at a significant cost. In the view of our board, it is more fiscally responsible to move into a smaller space and not incur those costs.
The sale of the building also improves our strong financial position and will allow us to invest in programs and services to benefit our members that we were unable to do before. Finally, the association's new office space is a state-of-the-art facility (with access to meeting space) that strongly shows the Big I as the leading advocate for independent agents in the state. Classes such as the CIC program and other events and programs will be held in the Meridian Mark conference facility.
I will be sending out more information about our move in the coming weeks, but wanted to take this opportunity to inform you about it. These are exciting times for the Indiana Big I and we are even more excited to have you benefit from a leaner and more agile association. If you have questions or comments, please don't hesitate to let me know.
InVEST® and the Big "I" Diversity Council announced Indiana State University, Ohio State University and the University of North Texas as the winning teams in the Second Annual College Agency Management Competition. The winners were chosen based on business results of owning and operating a virtual insurance agency.
Hosted by InVEST and the Big “I" Diversity Council, the competition was designed to teach college students the basics of entrepreneurship, insurance agency management, business operations and teamwork through a virtual online competition developed by PriSim War Games.
During the past month, students input their agency's business decisions into PriSim's agency management platform and took responsibility for strategy, carrier and customer management, source management, staffing, sales and financial statements.
University professors, insurance agents, a corporate partner and a PriSim staff member mentored each team throughout the competition to help them understand real-world issues including how to read a profit and loss statement, the impacts of staffing, market segmentation and more.
Thanks to funding provided by participating Big “I" Diversity Council company sponsors, the winners will receive a trip to this year's Big I" Legislative Conference, which will give the students the opportunity to connect with executives from top insurance agencies and companies for possible internships and jobs.
The eight schools and their sponsors included:
- Howard University, Washington, D.C. (Safeco/Liberty Mutual)
- Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois (Risk Management Solutions of America)
- University of North Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina (The Hartford)
- University of North Texas, Denton, Texas (CNA)
- Indiana State University, Terra Haute, Indiana (Westfield Group)
- Appalachian State, Boone, North Carolina (Selective Insurance)
- Ohio State, Columbus, Ohio (Nationwide)
- Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Church Mutual)
“Congratulations to all of the teams that participated in the competition," says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I" president & CEO. “I'm sure each student learned something valuable about what it takes to own and operate a small business. We look forward to hosting the top three teams at the Big 'I' Legislative Conference."
As a winning team, Indiana State University will be travelling to Washington, D.C. from May 8-10 to attend the annual Big “I" Legislative Conference. Students participating in the competition were Chris Graman, Jak Kramer, Seth Payton, Erika Perry, and Evan Rogers.
Thank you to agency mentor, Steve Danielson from ONI Risk Partners and the team sponsor, Westfield!
By Melissa Hall
When McGowan Insurance Group opened its doors in 1930, there were just two employees. In the past eight decades it has grown to 32 employees, and it's that group of people who are the agency's beating heart. The 2018 winners of the Big I Agency of the Year award attribute their success to the amazing team of people who work there.
“The reason we won is our staff. We are very intentional about our culture, it's very collaborative," explained President Hugh M. McGowan. “There is a family atmosphere that's rooted in teamwork."
For three generations, the McGowan family has been a part of the Indianapolis community. Though they currently write business in 49 states, they are proud to call Indianapolis home. William K. McGowan, Sr. founded the agency with a partner, and they have always been located downtown. In 2012, they built their current location just off of Indiana Avenue. “We always wanted to be downtown, even when others didn't," said McGowan. “A lot of time and dollars go into our building, but it's important to us to be part of the fabric of the community we serve." The new location was also a huge boost for employee morale, reinforcing the stability and permanence of the agency.
The principals are committed to giving back to the community they've been a part of for so many years. McGowan Insurance Group has partnered with a local charity, Dream Alive. The foundation's goal is to show underprivileged children the importance of giving. “We all rally behind the organization," said Senior VP of Operations Linda Capps. Dream Alive teaches the children that they always have something they can contribute to the world around them. The organization strives to create communities with active members and holds events where kids can serve at a soup kitchen or help wrap presents to give to families in need.
As the agency looks to the future they know they're on the right path. Chairman Hugh B. McGowan noted that his father's best piece of advice was not to grow too big, too fast. “We want to continue to grow organically and find the best people to help us do that," McGowan said. Capps added," We look for team players who are self-motivated." Their rich history, both in Indianapolis and in the insurance industry, has given McGowan Insurance Group a wonderful base for that growth, but their real focus is on what's ahead.
“We celebrate the past at this agency, but it's really more about the future," Hugh M. McGowan said. “Leveraging our staff gives us an amazing platform to build on. We've got a really special team and that makes the future really exciting."
By Spencer M. Houldin
I would like to congratulate Todd Jackson on his recent election to the executive committee of the Independent Insurance and Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA). Indiana should be proud of the many strong leaders you have sent to our national association and Todd is no exception.
How did this happen? What does this mean? The national Big I executive committee consists of three at-large members, three officers, and a past chairman. Each year, any of the 250,000 members of our association can run for the at-large position vacated by the past chairman. The national board of directors, which consists of one person from each state association, acts as the electorate. Todd took this leap and won.
While the board decides on our officer slate each year, tradition would put Todd as our national chairman in 6 years. It is quite a commitment for him and his family.
As a member of the executive committee, Todd will play an integral part in forming the future direction of our association in an ever-changing world. Trade associations, in general, are challenged to stay relevant to its members in the digital environment. Todd is forward thinking and the right person for the challenge.
His committee work will be important. He will sit on three or four national committees as the executive committee liaison. His committee assignments will change each year. This is all part of the learning curve and informal training process as a lead up to becoming your national chairman. Each year, he will attend the three national board meetings and a week-long summer planning meeting. All of this will be on top of monthly executive committee calls and scores of emails weekly. He is probably reading this right now and wondering what he has gotten himself into!!!
When he reaches the officer position, he will continue with all that he has been doing and travel to state associations will be introduced. He will travel to a few states as vice-chair, many more as chair-elect and as chairman. His email volume will escalate, and his phone log will see a marked difference. When all is said and done, he will visit approximately 40 states.
We are a federation of state associations. Each has its own needs, challenges, and nuances. The national association is there to help them thrive. Todd will be a resource to many. He will have a valuable perspective of seeing firsthand what works in some states that should be attempted in others.
In his chairman year, he will be the face of independent agents across the country. He will be walking the halls of Congress with our lobbying team and meeting with company CEOs to help all independent agents and our distribution channel thrive into the future.
The sacrifice will not only be Todd's but also his wife Theresa's and their kids. He will be away often. They all are owed our gratitude. It will be a rewarding experience that will teach him much about our industry, our country and himself. But, it will be physically exhausting. Thank you, Todd. You are the right man for the job and I could not be more proud to call you a friend and have you as my leader!
Spencer M. Houldin is President of Ericson Insurance Services based in Connecticut and New York City. He has 30 years of experience as a personal insurance advisor and leads Ericson's high net worth personal insurance division. He has testified on Capitol Hill on numerous occasions in front of both chambers of Congress on topics ranging from the modernization of the insurance industry to the National Flood Insurance Program. In 2016-2017, he served as Chairman of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.
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When new companies join TrustedChoice.com, they have the flexibility to customize an investment package that allows them to grow how and where they need.
Some choose to join in a few states for a specific lines of business. This is what we call “partial footprint.”
Some choose to join in every state for every line of business. This is what we call “full footprint.”
As of last week, both Progressive and Tuscano are officially participating Company Partners on the TrustedChoice.com platform, bringing the total number of TC.com companies up to 70.
Progressive has been a longtime advocate of TrustedChoice.com by providing marketing dollars for Advantage Subscriptions to qualifying agents. They’re now solidifying this support by investing nationwide in both personal and commercial lines.
Tuscano, a wholesaler operating in about 22 states, is commercial-lines only in these states: CT, DC, DE, FL, GA, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, TN, TX, VA and WV. As these are all of the states they’re currently licensed in, they are technically “full footprint” for their current business model.
Please let them know that you appreciate their participation and support.
Today, building a thriving small business and brand hinges on a well-developed digital presence. The first stop for consumers exploring new products and businesses is online. Whether researching customer reviews or going directly to the source, consumers eventually find their way to a business's website and social media page before making purchase decisions.
Trusted Choice® offers tools and resources to simplify the process and help independent insurance agents improve their digital marketing. A Trusted Choice digital review explores an agency's website and social media properties to discover opportunities, determine weaknesses and build on strengths. These in-depth reviews cover all corners of digital marketing, delivering performance measurements and analytics, offering qualitative insights on specific ways to improve.
A digital review first dives into an agency's website, assessing SEO, mobile use, usability, social integration and more. The evaluations score website performance on a scale of 0–100 and offer actionable suggestions for improving website effectiveness.
The social media portion of a review weighs an agency's social media activity, providing a blueprint for developing an effective social media presence integrated with the agency's website and overall brand. From choosing the right platform and creating the page to developing a content strategy and engaging followers, a social media review dives into all aspects and features of each social media platform:
To request your free digital presense review, please contact Madeleine Stern at the National Big "I". Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or call her (703) 706-5402.
Indiana Big "I" is working in partnership with TrustedChoice.com to get more local insurance buyers to our consumer website and then connecting them with your agencies. As a result, our members can receive an upgraded profile on TrustedChoice.com at no charge.
A Member Plus profile will provide your agency with the following benefits:
- Your agency will show higher to consumers searching on TrustedChoice.com
- Tell us which lines of business in both personal and commercial you want to write
- Confirm your contact information to get opportunities to the right producers
- Select the two-digit NAICS codes that represents your agency’s niche markets
- The ability to add a custom "About Us" statement
- Access to your agency Dashboard do see and track the referrals you have received
All of these capabilities will enable your agency to start getting only the referrals you want from insurance buyers that you like.
and click on “Sign in with IIABA
” in blue text under the orange button. Use your Big I username and password on the screen that says Welcome!
If you don’t know your username and password, or if you have any trouble signing in, just call TrustedChoice.com Support at 855-372-0070 and we will get you set up in no time. |