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The Massachusetts Insurance Agent: Could the glass really be half full?

08/31/2011

This week’s guest blogger is Ben Cavallo, owner of C&S Insurance Agency, and Co-Chair of the MAIA’s Young Agent Committee. We asked him to contemplate the state of the independent agent now and in the future. We like that he’s seeing the glass half full…

For years, I’ve heard people complaining about the difficulties of the competitive auto marketplace, bemoaning the state of our economy, and fretting about the future of the independent agent.  It almost seems as if complaining is a rite of passage for an insurance agent.  Despite all the hurdles, we’ve never had more opportunities for growth because of the following.…

Acquisition: The number of independent agents in our state is shrinking. We all know the reasons…reduced commissions, lower premiums, increased competition, etc., etc. However, the state has seen nearly 240 mergers over the last four years, a dramatic increase from the stagnant marketplace that existed for so many years. Never has it been easier for the independent agent to acquire another agent or merge with a viable partner. The safe confines of the pre-competitive auto market are gone, for some this may be an opportunity to grow via merger or acquisition.

Quality People: The unemployment rate is at historically high levels and the economy fails to find momentum.  For the agent, this might be the best opportunity in generations to hire qualified support staff and develop a competitive sales force at affordable prices. If you haven’t done so already, use the MAIA’s Job Central to post an opening in your agency. You will be astounded at the quality of the applicants, and there is no better way to make your agency grow, than through a talented sales and support staff.

Sales: Premiums are lower and commissions are shrinking. We could all sit around and complain that we are giving policies away, and our existing premiums are shrinking every day.  Or, we could use this as an opportunity to sell.  Let the world know that we can save you money while offering better products. Go to the local business owners, who are no doubt struggling in this economy, and show them how we can save them money. Finally, we can compete and offer potential clients a real savings.

Our agency has increased premiums by 50% over the last 5 years, and we’ve done it by hiring, acquiring, and selling.  The glass is truly half full.

Are you interested in guest blogging for MAIA? We love to hear from our members. Contact Melissa at mmurphy@massagent.com.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. 09/09/2011 8:41 am

    I like most of this post, but the paragraph on sales irks me a bit. He wrote:

    “Let the world know that we can save you money while offering better products. Go to the local business owners, who are no doubt struggling in this economy, and show them how we can save them money. Finally, we can compete and offer potential clients a real savings.”

    The focus on saving money is understandable, but I think it’s a self-destructive approach. If the focus is purely on premium savings and not on reducing the total cost of risk, the potential client will eventually find someone else with a better price. It seems there is ALWAYS someone out there with a lower price. Alternatively, focusing on overall risk management, of which insurance happens to be an important part, places the agent in the role of valuable consultant. Not every client is interested in this kind of service, of course, but those who do will be more loyal than those who are only interested in shaving 10 percent off the auto premium.

    Tim Dodge
    Director of Research and Media Relations
    Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, Inc.

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