What a whirlwind first month at OIA! My schedule has been filled with meet-and-greets with our carrier partners to brainstorm innovative ways we can partner together to make a difference for Ohio’s independent insurance agents.
A Blast from the Past
One carrier visit was especially meaningful to me: I had the chance to return to my former employer, Grange Insurance headquartered in downtown Columbus. Grange is a gold-level OIA company partner. My experience at Grange truly deepened my passion for helping independent agents!
In 2014, I joined Grange as a personal lines underwriter for Indiana before transitioning to an internal territory sales manager for central and eastern Ohio. In this role, I worked closely with all kinds of independent agents throughout Ohio, including large networks, small startups and fifth generation agencies.
Most importantly, I learned the challenges that our member agents face on a daily basis, from competing with direct carriers to finding new ways to reach consumers. Grange has some of the most loyal independent agents in the industry, and I was lucky to gain so much knowledge from them.
A passion for helping IAs
During my visit, I met with Mike Humphry, Ohio District Sales Manager and AVP, who was eager to talk with me about the company’s passion for the independent agency system. Check out Grange’s main goals for 2017 to help ensure the long-term success of IAs:
Growing agencies: Grange is focused on helping independent agents diversify their books, hire producers and get access to professional development opportunities. For example, independent agents control 80 percent of the commercial lines (CL) market share in Ohio, so Grange is enhancing its CL products to become a go-to carrier. In the past year, they have rolled out several new products, including cyber-liability, manufacturing and contractors E&O insurance.
Equipping independent agents: The company’s new sales and marketing hub gives independent agents access to lead lists and marketing/advertising tools, such as digital ads, billboards and postcards, to help them target new business and boost retention. If an agent is new to Grange or a partner-plus or higher, they are eligible for co-op and business development money, which they can earn each year for various expenses, such as marketing, advertising and management systems.
Educating future industry leaders: To ensure Ohio’s independent agents are equipped with the latest skills, Grange partners with vendors such as MarshBerry to offer training opportunities right in their home office. In addition, they offer discounted online CE courses through WebCE to all of their agents. Grange also provides professional development reimbursement to senior partner agents.
“Our main focus will always be our independent agents and setting them up for success in the current and future marketplace,” Mike says. “We are focused on educating agents on industry trends and equipping them with the tools they need to help their agencies grow.”