OIA Welcomes Craig Niess to Agency Valuation Role

GAHANNA, OH - Ohio Insurance Agents Association is excited to announce that Craig Niess has joined the association as Business Planning and Valuation Manager.

Craig Niess headshotGrowing OIA’s vision to be a “change agent for agent change,” Niess will lead the association’s initiatives to build and develop business solutions in the areas of agency valuation, succession planning and business planning. As an expert advisor, he will help independent agents set up a plan for long-term success.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to develop and manage the consulting practice within OIA and bring much needed services and solutions to Ohio’s independent agencies,” Niess says. “In 2018, we want to offer high-quality business consulting to as many agencies as possible.”

Niess shares OIA’s passion for independent agents and the IA channel. He has more than seven years of financial and operational consulting experience with independent agents through his tenure at Marsh, Berry & Company. In this role, he launched new products, provided customized consulting services, developed and implemented business plans, and created financial models.

“Independent agents are pillars of the communities they serve,” Niess says. “We want to empower them so they continue to thrive in an ever-changing insurance landscape.  We want to help these agencies and provide them with solutions that will keep them viable for generations to come.”

Recently, Niess also worked for a startup in Cleveland and brings his entrepreneurial spirit cultivated from that experience to his new role at OIA. He holds an MBA from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University.


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,300 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. OIA helps agents by providing agency valuation, succession planning, generational health, operational benchmarking reports, other business solutions and industry thought leadership.


OIA empowers next generation of industry leaders at Next-Gen Summit

Swag bags at OIA Next-Gen Summit

CLEVELAND, OH - Ohio Insurance Agents Association, Inc. (OIA) is taking bold steps to elevate, energize and empower the next generation of independent insurance agents. 

Sold-out crowd at the Next-Gen SummitNearly 150 independent agents from across Ohio came together for the OIA Next-Gen Summit held June 22-23 at the trendy Metropolitan at The 9 Hotel in downtown Cleveland. The event featured two days of outside-the-box thinking, high-energy speakers and entertaining activities (risk-management tour of Progressive Field, anyone?). In other words, this unique event was not your typical insurance conference.

“I have been to at least 25 insurance conferences across the country over the last three years; none of them are similar to what I just experienced in Ohio,” says Sydney Roe, Next-Gen Summit speaker and digital content manager at Agency Nation. “There was an assumptive awareness about what’s happening in our industry shared across the whole crew, an unspoken drive that energized the entire event, a positivity about what can be grasped in the near future and a confidence in experimenting with creativity to stand out.”

Agency Nation's Ryan Hanley talks about how to sell to millennialsOIA brought in insurance industry visionaries Ryan Hanley and Sydney Roe from Agency Nation (TrustedChoice.com) who are taking the IA channel by storm with their quirky approach, no-holds barred advice and genuine passion for the IA channel. Hanley shared his expertise on how to sell insurance to millennials while Sydney talked about the importance of using social media as a relationship-building platform.

“I learned so much from Ryan Hanley’s presentation on selling to millennials,” says Brian Miller, independent agent at Mathews Insurance in Athens, Ohio. “I liked how his presentation was positive toward millennials and shed light on the unique buying behavior of this generation. All of the conference content was very relevant since everything is going digital nowadays.”

Brandie Hinen, CEO and founder of Powerhouse Learning, inspired attendees with her passion for helping people break free of their comfort zones to create lasting, radical change. A former insurance agent, Hinen talked about critical factors for success, including learning how to say “no,” overcoming daily adversities and creating a powerful vision.

A behind-the-scenes tour of Progressive FieldMike Strakhov, Executive Director with Live Oak Bank, talked about a critical area for independent agents: Preparing for agency ownership During an interactive agent/carrier panel discussion, industry leaders discussed the latest technology impacting the industry. Panelists included: Robert Dodson of Liberty Mutual Insurance, Patrick Jackson of Central Insurance Companies, Craig Welsh of Westfield Insurance, Luke Shipp of First Insurance Group, Matt Simon of Hill & Hamilton Insurance and Katie Berry of Insurance Agencies of Ohio.

The OIA Next-Gen Summit concluded with a risk-management tour of Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians. Attendees, many of whom were Cleveland sports fans, experienced a behind-the-scenes tour of the potential risks of a Major League Baseball stadium and the many safety measures put into place to protect visitors.

Ohio's next-gen agents brought energy and excitement to the event“Content was absolutely phenomenal – I’m able to take so many new ideas back home with me and incorporate them at my agency,” says Seth Marana, independent agent at Ramsburg Insurance & Financial Services in Uniontown, Ohio. “I’ll definitely be back next year.”

The Next-Gen Summit is part of OIA’s larger mission to cultivate next-gen agents – those who aspire to be agency owners, industry thought leaders and have at least 20 years left in their career. OIA is committed to equipping Ohio’s independent agents with the skills and resources necessary to thrive in a rapidly changing insurance marketplace. We are keeping up the momentum our all-new conference – IACON17 – Oct. 19-20 in downtown Columbus.


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of nearly 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agents thrive in a modern insurance marketplace by offering them resources and content in four areas critical for success: digital marketing, recruiting and training, perpetuation and improving the customer experience.


OIA partners with state associations to launch regional survey to rate agents’ carrier experiences

GAHANNA, OH - Nine independent agents’ associations, including Ohio Insurance Agents, launched a region-wide survey today to uncover carrier best practices. The goal of the Northeast Carrier Alliance Survey, a series of surveys, is to give valuable feedback to carriers, provide meaningful benchmarks to agencies and facilitate communication among carriers and independent agents.

The first survey will focus on personal lines carriers’ technology usage and standards. Several thousand independent agents and brokers are expected to take the initial survey over the next two weeks.

The multi-state reach allows for a larger survey sample, adding credibility to the results. Participating associations will release the results on a state-by-state and collective basis.

The Northeast Carrier Alliance Survey is a first-of-its-kind collaboration among associations in Delaware, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania. The next survey will be released later this year.

About the Collaboration

Nine independent agents’ associations are participating in the Northeast Carrier Alliance Survey, including the Delaware Association of Insurance Agents & Brokers, Maine Insurance Agents Association, Insurance Agents & Brokers of Maryland, New Hampshire Association of Insurance Agents, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New Jersey, Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, Ohio Insurance Agents, Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island and Insurance Agents & Brokers of Pennsylvania.

About Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agencies protect consumers and employers by offering them access to the best resources, tools and professional development programs available. OIA serves our members in four key areas: advocacy, professional development, business solutions and industry thought leadership.


OIA Welcomes Megan Smith to Company Partners Role

GAHANNA, OH - We are excited to announce a new staff member here at OIA – please join us in welcoming Megan Smith, CPCU, API, AINS. 

We have big plans for Megan. She will lead the effort to collaborate with IA carriers to develop resources that will help agents be more successful in the modern insurance marketplace. Or stated another way, she’s going to help build great programs that make it easier for YOUR agency to truly THRIVE now and in the future.

Collaborating to Make a Difference

From her roots as a personal lines underwriter for Western Reserve Group in Wooster to her most recent position as a sales manager at Grange Insurance in Columbus, Megan brings nearly 10 years of insurance industry experience to the Company Partners role.

In her new role at OIA, her focus is to build relationships with carrier partners and learn how OIA can leverage carriers’ collective resources to deliver meaningful programs and resources to Ohio independent agents.

“OIA understands the challenges in our industry right now as well as the important role independent agents play in our community,” Megan says. “I look forward to working together with our carrier partners to see how we can collectively bring value to Ohio’s independent agents.”

A Passion for Helping IAs

Megan has a strong background in helping independent agents grow their business, including advising them on perpetuation, digital marketing and customer experience best practices.

She is passionate about independent agents because of the vital role they play as a trusted risk advisor and insurance expert for both personal and commercial clients.

“Many consumers do not understand the importance of insurance and how it impacts every aspect of life,” Megan says. “Independent agents provide a service that consumers may not necessarily want but absolutely need. When the unexpected happens, your independent agent is the first person you call.”

With a solid understanding of both the opportunities and challenges in our industry, she is excited to be a part of the OIA family where she will help promote, progress and protect Ohio’s independent agents.

“My number one goal is to help independent insurance agents – local business owners in Ohio – grow their agency and expand their market share in the industry,” Megan says. “This has always been my passion, and I’m excited to have this opportunity to make a difference.”

A graduate of The Ohio State University, Megan resides in Clintonville with her husband and two dogs. An avid runner, she races in distances from 5K to half marathon and serves on the 5K Committee for Girls on the Run of Central Ohio, a nonprofit organization that uses running to “inspire girls to be joyful, healthy and confident.”

Questions? Contact Megan at (614) 552-3064.


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of nearly 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agents thrive in a modern insurance marketplace by offering them resources and content in four areas critical for success: digital marketing, recruiting and training, perpetuation and improving the customer experience.


Exciting News About TrustedChoice.com in Ohio

A message from Becky Taylor, OIA marketing manager

GAHANNA, OH - I am excited to announce that OIA has made an investment in search engine optimization for TrustedChoice.com in Ohio (video message included above). This means your TrustedChoice.com Advantage Profile will see more traffic and you can connect with more Ohio insurance buyers looking for independent agents. Included below are resources to help you maximize this opportunity.


How to Prepare Your Profile

Improve the likelihood that consumers will choose your agency by adding unique elements to your profile to set it apart from competitors. I've included tips in the video above, and you can find a full list of best practices here: 8 Powerful Ways to Improve Your Advantage Profile.

Update Your TrustedChoice.com Profile


Improve Inbound Lead Handling

How does your staff handle inbound sales calls? Do potential clients receive a warm welcome when they call your agency or is business slipping through the cracks because callers don't feel important? If it's the latter, take advantage of a program available through your OIA membership called the Power of 30 Seconds. It's free, it only takes 30 minutes to complete and it's a great resource for your staff.

Begin The Powe​r of 30 Seconds Training Module


Not an Advantage Subscriber?

Becoming an Advantage Subscriber is easy. OIA members can click on the sign up button below to get started. If you're not an OIA member, call (800) 555-1742 to sign up for membership and gain access to TrustedChoice.com and a host of other resources to help you compete in today's modern insurance marketplace.

Sign Up Today!


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of nearly 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agents thrive in a modern insurance marketplace by offering them resources and content in four areas critical for success: digital marketing, recruiting and training, perpetuation and improving the customer experience.

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