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Sep 14
Big ‘I’ Turns 125: Looking Back and Forging Ahead

651207845eb1d36b873b6c42f47ce901.jpgFor 125 years, the Big “I” has held one goal: to protect the interests of independent insurance agents. 

Through grit, ingenuity, foresight and smarts, the Big “I” has been a key proponent of the value independent agents bring to their insureds - from the average homeowner to the largest multinational company - as well as the insurance community as a whole. 

Within the September issue of Independent Agent magazine, you’ll find that the Big “I” has published a special section, “Celebrating 125 Years of the Big ‘I’,” which tells the story of how the association started out back in 1896 and how it became the strong and innovative Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America it is today.​  Read the digital edition here 

The Big ‘I’ at the Vanguard of the Insurtech Revolution 

The Big “I” has always been at the forefront of technological innovation in the insurance industry.  

The impact of innovations during the 1960s and 70s would increase competitiveness against direct writers by making agency operations more efficient and unlocking more selling time. In the years that followed, an industry data communications network was required to allow companies to communicate with agencies, whatever the hardware they had in their office. 

By the end of the 1990s, the internet arrived as the great liberator to market access and independent agent distribution. As the power of the internet grew more sophisticated, it gave birth to real-time quoting, faster transfer of policy information and underwriting terms, comparative rating, APIs and all the other tools agents have access to today. 

After the pandemic in 2020 prompted the sudden and necessary adoption of digitalization, the industry took the opportunity to look back and take stock of how far it had come. The emerging plethora of InsurTechs had in fact met the technological needs of the independent agency channel. The Big “I” and the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) continue to support efforts to create a single platform that independent agents can use to access all markets and companies. 

Raising the Standards 

Big “I” committees on a local and national scale have helped shape the insurance policies in use today, as well as a vast amount of insurance-related legislation. As coverages evolved, the Big “I” Technical Affairs committee has worked with ISO to review policy forms and inform them why certain changes should or should not be made. 

Ushering generation after generation to join the independent agency system is a hallmark of the Big “I.” Since the 1960s, state young agent committees have provided an opportunity for young agents to network and share strategies among their peers. 

In 2021, young agent committees continue to enjoy strong numbers and engagement, where core values include community involvement, networking and fundraising. Ultimately, young agents bind generations of the independent agency workforce, ensuring its continual perpetuation. 

The Big ‘I’ Serves the Consumer First 

From an industry that used quills and typewriters to agency management systems and real-time online quoting platforms, the Big “I” has been at the forefront of insurance innovation.  

“From a group of 20 agents that sought standardized underwriting and fair commissions to an army of nearly 250,000 Big ‘I’ members that took on the might of Wall Street and secured the stability of the economy in the wake of 9/11, the Big ‘I’ has led the way,” said Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” president and CEO. “From an industry that focused simply on property insurance to an industry that insures the modern property-casualty market, the Big ‘I’ has been securing the fairness and integrity of the delivery of insurance since its inception.” 

As the insurance world has changed, the Big “I” has been a constant—advocating for its members, consumers and the insurance community on every level. 

And as the industry looks ahead to new challenges, such as cybercrime, extreme weather and economic instability, the Big “I” will be doing the same, striving to uphold its long-held values of fairness, choice and trust. 

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