Higgins Initiative Takes Hold AGENTS: LET'S GET IT "OUT THERE" NOW.
* For many years as an independent agent, I have focused on the unique value-added premises independent insurance agents operate upon and have taught many peers how to maximize those same market advantages in programs on how agents can create unique value. That value is there, but it is not "out there" as it should be.
In fact, over the past several years I have watched insurance agency and carrier advertising degenerate into four marketing distinctions as purchasing criteria, begging the insurance consumer to make their choice of an insurance product based upon: easier, faster, cheaper and better.
Insurance professionals know that none of these should be the basis of an insurance purchasing decision any more than it should be the basis of selecting a doctor--except for "better." Independent agents can easily compete and win on this criterion. As we know all too well, the best example is that of many non-standard policy coverage provisions implemented by some carriers to reduce the risk transferred in a policy of insurance, whereby the price is reduced, but the consumer never knows exactly what they have purchased until it is too late. We should be able to rely upon regulators to protect insurance consumers from misleading advertising and ultra-fine print, but it is the agent who gets the consumer through the night with a sound sleep.
To respond to these new criteria, I have worked to bring together some technically knowledgeable industry experts and we have created the attached position statement document to begin the discussion with state regulators throughout the country asking them to revisit their responsibility to protect the consumer from unfair and incomplete advertisements and inferior policy coverage provisions. We spent five months and multiple revisions developing this position statement to be sure we remained consumer focused and not distribution channel biased. Anything that benefits the insurance consumer has an ultimate beneficial consequence for our distribution channel. This document will soon be published in multiple insurance trade journals as we begin our campaign of change. I am personally prepared to travel the country at my own expense to promote this campaign and talk to the concept of value and honest advertising. (This is my last big project to end a 43 year career as an independent agent who successfully, internally perpetuated my agency to my children in 2012!).
As of this date, we have formal endorsements from Chris Amrhein, former IIABA Director of Insurance Education, Bill Wilson, former Dean of the IIABA Virtual University both of whom participated in the document content authoring, V. Dan Robinson, President of New York Central Mutual Insurance Company (a substantial regional carrier in New York State with 2017 direct written premium of $539.4 million). Others are joining as you read this, including the publisher of this 130 year old, continuously published magazine for independent agents.
Once you read the position paper that follows, perhaps you'd wish to add your name to our list of thought leaders in support of our effort. We are not requesting monetary support, but rather your support as an identified thought leader of influence in your region. Please write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Higgins has more than 40 years of experience as an insurance agent and is Vice President of Thousand Islands Agency which he purchased in 1979 and perpetuated to his son and daughter in 2012. He obtained his CPCU designation in 1981.
He has served as President of the Independent Insurance Agents' Association of New York (IIABNY) and as State National Director for New York. He is a past chairman of the Agent's Council for Technology (A.C.T.). Thousand Islands Agency has been an IIABA Best Practices Agency for 12 years. Ed is also a Past Chair of the Applied Client Network User Group. Thousand Islands agency has had a paperless operating model since July 2001. The agency has also implemented Real-Time inquiry with ten insurance companies it represents. The agency received the inaugural National Underwriter magazine sponsored Agency Technology Achievement Awardin 2008. He has taught a variety of insurance related courses for the Independent Insurance and Brokers of New York including two classes for the AAI designation, and is a national speaker regarding insurance agency technology and efficient office workflow models as well as value added service models for insurance agents.