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Feb 21
InternNE to Answer Your Questions About New Internship Program

internNE-UNKwebinar.pngThe University of Nebraska at Kearney College of Business & Technology Career Center has teamed up with InternNE to host a Q&A Zoom session on Thursday, February 29 at 4 p.m. CT. 

If you haven’t heard, InternNE has been revived this year and they are working with businesses across the state to help fund internships for students. 

Please plan to attend the session if your agency is looking for ways to create and fund an internship program. Internships approved by InternNE may or may not be eligible for academic credit. 

Here are the session details:

Date: Thursday, February 29

Time: 4:00p-5:00p

Location: Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81783858979 
Meeting ID: 81783858979​

Feb 14
Richardson, Roberts Earn Insurance Professional Scholarships

Big “I” Nebraska and the IIAN Foundation are proud to announce the most recent winners of our Insurance Professional Scholarships!   

The First Year Scholarship for up to $500 goes to Bowen Roberts of Adams Insurance Advisors in Ogallala, and the Year 2-5 Scholarship for up to $1,000 goes to Jacob Richardson of Cornerstone Insurance Group in York.

Jacob will pursue the Certified Insurance Service Representaive (CISR) designation with the scholarship. 

After five and a half years working in law enforcement, Jacob made the career change to insurance in May 2022, according to his application essay. He joined the team at Cornerstone Insurance Group and hit the ground running. Now working as a Commercial Lines CSR, Jacob enjoys continously learning every day.

"I have decided that insurance is the right career choice for me, and I'm looking forward to many more years of learning and growing," Jacob said.

Bo has a similar story, having recently made a career change in his 40s. Bo plans to enroll in the upcoming session of Elite Force Sales Academy, which will equip him with the tools needed to close more sales and generate more commissions.

"I have always strived to be the best I could be at whatever venture I have pursued, and Elite Force Sales Academy appears to be a class that can give me a jump start in my career, and an edge on competition," Bo said in his essay. ​

Thank you to all who applied; we love to see that members are passionate about furthering their education!  

The next opportunity to earn this scholarship will be in July 2024. Learn more on our Insurance Professional Scholarship webpage.     ​​


Feb 14
ACT Celebrates 25 Years of Helping Independent Agents

ActAnniLogo2_C_(1)_-_Copy.png1999 was a fascinating year on several fronts.  In the mind-blowing new movie, The Matrix, Neo was challenged with choosing the red or blue pill and the opportunity to know the truth.  And all of us were preparing for an existential crisis of our own, the threat of the Y2K crisis.  While The Matrix went on to become a classic series of movies over the years, some education, preparation, collaboration, and hard work allowed us mere mortals to navigate Y2K unscathed. 

In 1999 independent agents and carriers were just starting to wrap their collective arms around the idea of technology’s potential impact to the industry, but still relied heavily on paper, fax, manual rating guides, and the need to be in-person for many transactions.  In what turned out to be a prophetic decision, the Big “I” chose the red pill to address the truth.  The emergence of technology and the real fears associated with Y2K illustrated a need for our industry to better understand the vast opportunities and risks associated with technology.  With this insight and desire to support independent agencies across the county, the Big I introduced the Agents Council for Technology in 1999.

Over the last 25 years, we have all come a long way and, yet we still have a long way to go.  We invite you to follow ACT on social media and join us as we spend 2024 reflecting on the industry’s technology journey and how ACT has played an integral part in the story.  But we are not done!  While Y2K is a distant memory, the industry is on the precipice of understanding AI and continues to contemplate the best ways to address multiple entry, integration, data, and how our teams and customers are impacted by technology-based transformation.  With that spirit, ACT is spending just as much time this year thinking about the future and how we need to evolve to serve the industry for the next 25 years. 

Thank you to every agent, company partner, carrier, and supporter of ACT over the past 25 years.  We literally could not have made it this far while laying the foundation for the future without our engagement and support!

Learn more about ACT: https://www.independentagent.com/ACT


Feb 08
UNICO Group Announces Strategic Leadership Transition to Support Long-Term Growth and Independence

UNICO Group, a client-focused insurance broker, has officially announced the transition of key leaders, effective January 1, 2024, aimed at supporting the company's long-term growth and independence. 

The new leadership structure is designed to reinforce the company's commitment to strategic vision, operational excellence, and sustainable growth.

The UNICO Shareholders have appointed Tom Champoux, Ric Stoakes, Shane Ideus, Neal Lyons, Ryan Swinton, and Chad Ideus as members of the 2024 Board of Directors. ​

Tom Champoux, a seasoned professional renowned for his comprehensive risk management and consulting services, will assume the role of Chair of the Board. In this capacity, he will provide strong governance guidelines and spearhead the development of board committees, ensuring robust oversight and strategic guidance.

In line with the restructuring, the Board of Directors have announced the recalibration and appointment of two executive leadership roles.

Ric Stoakes, a visionary leader with a proven track record, will take on the role of CEO, providing enhanced strategic vision and alignment at UNICO. His focus will also extend to leadership over the Executive team and fostering key relationship management with strategic partners. 

Shane Ideus will assume the position of President, bringing a focus on accelerating financial performance, providing organizational clarity, and driving strategic initiatives. Shane will also provide leadership to core functions such as the operations, sales, and marketing teams.

These strategic leadership transitions have been carefully designed to fortify UNICO's infrastructure, ensuring it is robust enough to support the current growth trajectory and future company goals. The new leadership team is poised to drive operational excellence, foster strategic partnerships, and capitalize on emerging opportunities, positioning UNICO for sustained success and growth in the dynamic marketplace.​

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Feb 07
Celebrate Insurance Careers Month with Invest and APCIA

InsuranceCareersMonth.pngFebruary marks Insurance Careers Month, and IIAN invites you to join in the celebration!

The annual event was established by the Insurance Careers Movement. In addition, Invest has partnered with the American Property Casualty Insurance Association (APCIA) to increase awareness about all the great careers insurance has to offer.

Insurance Careers Month is a great opportunity to recognize the diversity of careers in insurance and introduce various groups, such as students entering the job market and career changers, to the industry.

Join us in promoting careers in the independent agent channel throughout February:

  • Explore more about the Insurance Careers Movement.
  • Visit the Big “I" Insurance Careers Month webpage for social media ideas that will help you effectively promote your agency to a new, diverse pipeline of talent.
  • Mark your calendar for the next Invest informational Zoom call on its new partnership with DECA. The call will take place Feb. 12 at 3 pm E.T. Join to find out how you can participate in the partnership with Invest and DECA. Register for the call now.

Let's come together to celebrate and showcase the amazing opportunities in the independent agency channel!

Feb 01
Big ‘I’ National Board Adopts Hard Market Policy Statement

The Big “I" Board of Directors has adopted a policy statement on agent compensation and appointments in the current hard insurance market. 

The statement is intended for all insurance industry stakeholders and emphasizes the critical and unique role that independent agents and brokers play in the insurance marketplace. It details the services they provide for both consumers and carriers and expresses concern about recent carrier reductions in agent commissions and inappropriate agency terminations.

While acknowledging the challenges insurers face in the current hard market, the statement also affirms that “we also believe the practice of reducing agent compensation and terminating agency appointments is rash and misguided" and that “the ability of agents to serve the needs of consumers is hindered when insurers inappropriately terminate agency appointments." 

The policy document goes on to say that insurers have a responsibility to discuss in advance with their distribution force any significant actions they will take.

The board discussed and voted on the statement at its recent annual Winter Board Meeting. This marks the first time a formal public policy statement has been issued by the Big “I" board since 2007.

The new policy statement is available to view with a Big “I" member login on the legal advocacy & governance section of the Big “I" website.

For questions or more information, contact the Big “I" office of the general counsel

Feb 01
IIAN Members Build Connections with Senators During 2024 ‘Day at the Capitol’

dayatcapitol2024-issuesbriefing-crop.jpgA group of nearly 30 IIAN members from across the state spent a successful “Day at the Capitol” on Jan. 31! They were briefed on legislative bills that impact the insurance industry, and then met with Nebraska senators over lunch at the Governor's Mansion. ​

​IIAN's lobbying partners, Ken Schilz and Mary Vaggalis of Nebraska Strategies, provided an outlook on insurance-related issues in the state unicameral. 

In addition, Raaed Haddad, Big “I" director of federal government affairs, joined us virtually to present a legislative update on the national front.

​​dayatcapitol2024-senatorsluncheon2-crop.jpgAgents in attendance proceeded to the State Capitol to meet with their senator or staff and escort them to the Governor's Mansion for lunch.  

Big "I" independent agents and senators enjoyed fruitful conversation during the meal, as IIAN members were able to share their insurance expertise and make their voices heard.  

Did you know that in 2023, Nebraska was one of the top states that raised the most funds for InsurPac? Click here to learn how to protect your industry, in both Lincoln and Washington, D.C.!

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Jan 17
Top 5 Underrated Insurance Marketing Tips & Tricks

​Article Courtesy of ACT News​

Odds are, you’ve likely heard many basic insurance marketing tips and tricks, like establishing a social media presence or starting a newsletter. In many cases, though, these commonplace marketing ideas are not very simple to execute. With so many people trying to get attention on social media, and flooded email inboxes, it can be tough for insurance agents to stand out. That’s why turning to some of the more underrated insurance marketing tips and tricks can be so valuable. 
 
These less well-known marketing ideas still require commitment and effort, but they can potentially help your agency more than if you just tried generic approaches. These underrated insurance marketing tips and tricks include: 

  1. Boost Your Local SEO: Attempting to rank highly for search terms like “commercial insurance agent” might not be realistic for individual agencies as you not only have to compete with other agents near and far but also large insurance brands, news sites, research firms, etc., that might use those keywords. Instead, shift your focus to local SEO
    Aim to include keywords related to local areas like your city and state, especially if you can identify terms that other agents don’t seem to be targeting. Consider neighborhood names, communities, and more. Boosting your local SEO doesn’t mean you can’t serve clients outside your immediate area,  it just gives you a better opportunity to be found online by relevant prospects in your local area. 

  1. Find Niche Groups for Networking: Like getting more specific with local keywords, insurance agents can attain more marketing success by potentially focusing on niche groups for networking. For example, trying to stand out in a general LinkedIn group for small business owners nationwide might not be easy. Instead, perhaps you’d have better luck joining a group — online or offline — that focuses on a more specific area. For instance, you could join a local business group. Or find a more niche group such as one like cybersecurity for small businesses. Consider also working with your local Chamber of Commerce or other local groups. 

  1. Develop Content Partnerships: Get more mileage out of your marketing efforts by partnering up for content. Instead of just creating a blog post about business budgeting and sharing it on your social channels, consider partnering directly with a small business owner or industry expert.  Then incorporate that person’s insights into your content to create a more unique post, while also giving their company exposure to your audience. Their company could then share the article on their channels, so you both get to expand your reach by cross-posting.  

  1. Learn Your Cost Per Lead: If you don’t already have a clear cost per lead, learn that number so you can get more from your marketing efforts. For example, if you run social media ads, track your spending on those compared with how many new leads you get, such as if they click through on the ad to then sign up for your email list. 
    If you then see that your cost per lead for certain social networks is lower than others, you might decide to invest more in those with a high return on investment (ROI). Conversely, if you see that you’re spending more per lead than you would like to bring onboard in revenue, then that’s a sign that you need to switch your attention to another marketing channel, like creating more inbound blog content. 

  1. Ask for Referrals: Lastly, don’t be shy! Ask for referrals so that you can have more outbound marketing success. For example, you might send a thank you note to a new client, asking them to refer you to friends and family or other professionals if they enjoyed working with you. Many people are willing to help in this regard, they just need a nudge. 
     
    Once you do get those referrals, you might find that you’re better able to close those deals, since you’re starting warmer than when randomly reaching out to potential prospects. Getting more referrals can also free up more of your time than you would otherwise be spending on searching for new leads. With that time, you can dedicate more resources toward improving your marketing by crafting more detailed email newsletters and blog content or engaging in real conversations on social media. 

Improving your insurance marketing doesn’t have to be overly complex, you just might need to investigate less obvious methods. Focusing on more local, niche topics can help you avoid getting lost in too large a crowd, and partnering with other professionals can help you expand your network.  

Keep in mind that marketing takes time. Instant results can come from spending lots of money on advertising, but even with those, you still need to test and tweak to refine your marketing tactics. Take time to strategically think about how you want to grow your business and work backward from marketing initiatives from there. Knowing how and what is working can help you determine where to direct your time and money, and asking for referrals once you’ve gained customers can help you increase your efficiency even further. 
 
Try these insurance marketing tips and tricks and see if they can help you pull in more prospects and grow your business. 

This article was provided by ACT Supporting Partner, Coterie Insurance, a partnership-focused MGA simplifying small business insurance. Coterie Insurance uses automated underwriting to provide instant quotes for partners as well as agents and brokers to better serve their small business clients. Learn more about Coterie Insurance.

Dec 20
Check Out the Top Resources Used by Agents in 2023

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Dec 13
Irys Joins ACT

​Irys is the newest company to join the Big “I" Agents Council for Technology (ACT). Irys is a cloud-based agency management system (AMS) provider.

“Efficiency, connectivity and overall human experience are at the core of independent agencies' relationship with emerging technology, and ACT is dedicated to driving solutions that empower agencies to achieve their unique strategic initiatives," says Chris Cline, ACT executive director. “We're excited to have Irys join us in our mission to help agencies understand the full array of technology available to them in an ever-changing tech environment."

Built by and for insurance insiders, Irys leverages decades of industry experience to provide a unified workspace that simplifies workflows and eases connectivity while offering a much-needed escape route from the confines of traditional systems. Irys' AMS, created by former agents and brokers, offers streamlined interfaces between agency task and workflow management, agency insights and analytics, sales tools and data management. The platform equips agents to maintain pristine data, track invoicing and commissions, identify trends for business growth and performance optimization, automate workflows, and more.

“Our open API software platform shows the industry that you don't have to accept the restrictions imposed by legacy AMS providers—that you can have an innovative management system that delivers exactly the critical information you need, when and how you need it," said Margeaux Giles, CEO of Irys. “I like to say that we aren't just shaking the tree; we are uprooting it. It is a mindset and an approach that inspires us to offer a platform as dynamic, integrated, and forward-thinking as the future and the industry demands."

Learn more about Irys.​

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