Issues of Interest

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Summer 2023 ExclusiveFocus

Leading with Purpose – Michelle Hubert 

Leading with purpose means showing up as the best version of ourselves, leading ourselves well, and setting a positive example for our team. Before we can lead others, we must first lead ourselves well, being intentional in how we nurture our own lives. To achieve this, we must continuously expand our circle by connecting with successful individuals who inspire us. We should also pay attention to the content we consume and prioritize personal development. Leading others with purpose requires adopting a servant leadership approach, putting the needs of team members first and creating a framework for their success. This involves building connections, prioritizing consistency in actions and expectations, and fostering collaboration among team members.  

Our teams are primary to our success. It is the leader’s role to support the people who are getting things done, not the other way around. When the team succeeds, results will follow. You can create a leadership framework and lead with purpose by focusing on what Michelle Hubert calls the three C’s of leadership: connection, consistency, and collaboration. 


Agencies Are At a Crossroads. It Is Time to Decide. Craig Wiggins 

In 1996, Craig Wiggins began his career as an Allstate agent, filled with excitement and ready to apply his training. However, he soon faced challenges, particularly with getting people to qualify for insurance coverage, and discovered that even minor incidents in the past could exclude potential clients. Despite his frustrations, he persevered and even reached out to classmates for support.  

Reflecting on the past and looking ahead to 2023, Wiggins acknowledges that the challenges faced by agency owners have evolved. With the rapid pace of change, agencies must adapt to demands from carriers and seize opportunities. He urges agency owners to make a choice: either focus on selling more policies, or work on selling your book of business. He emphasizes the importance of building a strong team, implementing intentional hiring and training processes, and staying ahead of the industry’s changes. Finally, it’s also important to consider your timeline, and either committing to producing or to considering selling the business soon, as the future remains uncertain. 


 Nurturing Leads Through the Funnel: Strategies for Exclusive and Independent Agents Alike Mike Hodges, SIAA 

 As someone who has worked as both an Allstate and independent insurance agent, Mike Hodges emphasizes the importance of nurturing leads through the sales funnel. A sales funnel represents the journey of a potential client, starting from when they become aware of the agency until they make a purchase. Nurturing leads involves guiding prospective clients with targeted messaging and content. This article outlines the stages of the sales funnel, including creating awareness, generating and qualifying leads, making sales presentations, and closing the sale.  

Hodges stresses the significance of personalized service, persistence, and follow-up to keep potential clients engaged and interested. He also shares his experience as an independent agent, where he focused on targeting the right leads, providing valuable content, and offering excellent customer service to capture attention and move leads through the sales funnel. 

Finally, Hodges highlights the importance of providing the best customer service and being proactive in marketing efforts as an independent insurance agent. It is important to understand the individual needs, lifestyle, and financial situation of potential clients to offer tailored solutions. As an independent agent, Hodges shifted his focus to providing resources, advice, and valuable information to potential customers through various channels such as email, newsletters, and social media. By using these approaches, he was able to establish relationships and increase the likelihood of converting leads into long-term clients. 

Ten Ways to Help Your Service Team Master Subtle Selling Wendy Sheaffer 

An agency’s best CSRs and producers usually have very little in common, work-wise. But you could have untapped sales potential on your service team. Wendy Sheaffer’s article shares 10 tips for helping your service team master the art of the subtle sell, including:   

  1. Implement a pilot program. 

Rather than making an immediate change, a pilot program lets your service team ease into the new expectations. Set measurable milestones to keep things on track.  

      7. Keep up with career development.

Top service reps want to be experts. They feel good when they can impart their knowledge to customers. Give them all the support they need to learn as much as they can about your products and services. 

       8. Assess your team and increase self-awareness. 

Understand the talent on your team with behavioral assessments. Uncover who has natural sales aptitude and who doesn’t. Also, share the information. When your team can see their natural strengths and challenges, they’ll feel more secure about how to manage new tasks.  

Spring 2023 ExclusiveFocus 

Where is Your Place? – Javier E. Najera

A wise agent once said that being a captive agency owner is very much like riding a fast-moving train. Essentially, he said, the “old Allstate” in the pre-2019 period had a different model, something he personally didn’t appreciate until later on. Much of the change introduced to the exclusive agency force has caused many to either thrive or question their future with the company. Today’s Allstate Exclusive Agent is not the neighborhood agent it was before 2019 when service and retention for tenured clients were regarded as highly as new business.  

The new model favors a new generation of agents, who come to the business with technological acumen to digitize and modernize processes for speed and efficiency. 

Recently, NAPAA formed a Facebook group with the sole intention of giving agents a way to connect with those who have moved on to other models in the industry. Called Plan B—planning for Life after Captive Agent, the group is made up of captive agents, current and past, as well as independent groups, all of whom can connect in a space that lends itself to conversations and advice.  

What is your place in the insurance business? A new direction for some captive carriers is to purchase and/or transform the exclusive agency force to independent agents. Many agents want to stay in the business, though they cannot or will not sustain the demands of a captive company. Many agents want to stay in the business, though they cannot or will not sustain the demands of a captive company. 

Thriving or Surviving Who Does Better in a Hard Market – the Independent or Exclusive Agent? – Doug Coombs, SIAA

A hard insurance market presents many challenges for insurance agents, both exclusive and independent alike. Increased premiums, reduced underwriting capacity, limited coverage, and non-renewals—the year ahead has its challenges irrespective of how one chooses to sell insurance. 

What if the key difference between surviving and thriving in a hard market was simply a matter of adaptability? Of being able to pivot and respond to what the market brings?  

If you believe that, overall, adaptability and control over the business is a better way, then an independent agency may just be your solution to a hard market. Typically, independent agents receive a higher commission rate than exclusive agents and appear to be better protected against extreme highs and lows. When combined with the fact that the sole agent does not have title to the renewal commission, independent agents appear to be more profitable in the short and long term. With the challenges of a tough market this year, consider the pros and cons of being independent or exclusive, then consider which option best suits your personal style and your business goals. 

Find Your Herd, Amplify Your Belief, Unlock Results – Craig Pretzinger

“Deliberately seek the company of people who influence you to think and act on building the life you desire.” —Napoleon Hill  

In 2016, Craig Pretzinger attended an event that changed everything. It had been a challenging run between 2008’s financial collapse and that event. For eight years, agency ownership had been frustrating for a variety of reasons. Most years were a marathon grind just to break even. There were some great years, with some huge bonuses, but the consistency was definitely lacking. He needed to build the business into a vehicle that kicked out a great net income whereby he could re-invest his profits back into marketing. 

In 2016, he spent $10,000 to attend Tony Robbin’s “Business Mastery” conference in Las Vegas and learned that knowing his math was the single most important thing to create, predict, and fund scalable growth. Three fundamental ideas from Business Mastery helped him transition from a five-figure income to a seven-figure income.  

Price Optimization

Price optimization is an emerging practice in the insurance industry drawing the attention of state regulators, consumer advocates, insurance agents and consumers. Opponents claim that insurers are mining data on customers to set rates based on factors that are unrelated to risk of loss in order to charge each individual customer the highest price that the market will bear. Proponents believe the pricing model is a statistical technique, within actuarial and regulatory standards, which helps insurers determine competitive rate plans.

Allstate Retiree Life Lawsuit

In July 2013, former Allstate employee agents received notification from the company that their Allstate Retiree Life Insurance Benefit would be discontinued effective December 31, 2015. Many active Exclusive Agents were affected by the decision as well as other employee retirees who left the company after 1989. The company initiative prompted at least two lawsuits, which have been combined. The case is currently making it’s way through the court system.

Romero vs Allstate

On August 1, 2001, thirty-two former employee agents (the “Romero Plaintiffs“) sued Allstate on behalf of about 6,200 current and former Allstate agents whose employment was terminated as a result of Allstate’s “Preparing for the Future” reorganization initiative, seeking to recover pension, medical and other benefits estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Employees or Independent Contractors?

Agents under contract with Allstate Insurance Company have been classified by the company as independent contractors.  However, many agents contend they have been misclassified.

Private Letter Ruling

On November 15, 1988, Allstate submitted a request to the IRS for a ruling on the status of Exclusive Agents for Federal Tax Purposes  in advance of introducing its new Neighborhood Exclusive Agent program in 1990.