14 Apr, 2024
1 min read

How are independent insurance agents navigating the hard market?

How are independent insurance agents navigating the hard market? | Insurance Business America

National survey has the answers

How are independent insurance agents navigating the hard market?

Insurance News

By Terry Gangcuangco

A new study conducted by Trusted Choice, the consumer brand representing the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (Big “I”), sheds light on the strategies being employed by independent insurance agents to adapt to the hard market.

The “Navigating the Hard Market: How Independent Agencies Are Reacting” report explores the proactive steps agents are taking to enhance client services, communication, and operational efficiency.

According to the report, a significant 65% of agencies have amplified their communication with policyholders, with nearly 90% increasing email correspondence and 21% increasing their paid advertising efforts. Meanwhile, 32% of small agencies (1-10 staff) and 45% of large agencies (more than 25 staff) have recently incorporated new technologies.

The poll also quizzed agents on strategies to maintain team morale. Responses varied from increased internal communication and company-paid lunches to extra time off and team-building activities, as well as financial incentives like raises or bonuses, budget-permitting.

Big “I” president and chief executive Charles Symington commented: “To work through challenging market conditions, independent insurance agents are innovative and going the extra mile to best serve and provide value to their clients.

“In this difficult market, the agents who are setting themselves apart are those who are adapting and improving communication, customer retention, technology, and the morale of their teams. And no one is better positioned than independent agents to do all of that and help their clients through these market cycles successfully.”

Kevin Brandt, executive director at Trusted Choice, added: “With the industry’s ever-changing cycles, communication is even more critical than ever. Agents must remain focused on creating efficiencies in their touch points

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Candidates consider providing free legal counsel to renters

A majority of Winston-Salem City Council candidates are considering an ordinance that would give free legal counsel to renters facing eviction.

The measure was originally raised in 2021 by Housing Justice Now, a local housing rights group, when evictions spiked during the COVID-19 pandemic. In a council candidates forum hosted by HJN on Feb. 15, 12 candidates agreed to support the ordinance, which has an estimated price of $1.2 million a year, a projection made by Isaac Sturgill of Legal Aid of North Carolina.

Dan Rose, an HJN member, describes the ordinance as allowing a universal right to legal counsel, contrasting with the residency, jurisdictional and income eligibility requirements of the Legal Aid.

Rose also said that the city should consider the ordinance as an investment and that it would end up saving money for the city and Forsyth County in the long run.

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“When we ask for people to support the funding, you have to understand the fact that it’s an investment,” Rose said. “The community as a whole will save money if you invest in the right to counsel. Schools save money when folks are housed and stable.”

This latest push for the ordinance comes after emergency COVID-19 pandemic funding from the federal government has ended. Forsyth County’s Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is over, and Winston-Salem has only been allocated $100,000 per year for the employment of one staff attorney from Legal Aid of North Carolina to represent Winston-Salem tenants facing eviction.

The city currently has an unspent balance of $107,309.86 for the program, according to Winston-Salem’s budget director Scott Tesh.

For reference, there are anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 eviction hearings each year in Winston-Salem, according to HJN. Legal Aid was only able to represent 269 Winston-Salem eviction cases in 2020 with

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