President’s Message

Summer 2021

This May I commemorated my 16th year with Allstate and over 50 years in insurance. Prior to Allstate I worked in underwriting and management for other insurance carriers. Throughout my career, I thought being a member and leader of various insurance associations would help expand my career. In 2005, I retired from the corporate world and armed with an early pension I joined Allstate. Shortly after, I became a NAPAA member. My NAPAA history is as a member, director, secretary, executive VP and now NAPAA President.

Through NAPAA I have met other agents and learned about their successes and plans for their future.  Membership is a tax-deductible business expense. NAPAA has the historical knowledge of Allstate, offers various benefits and programs, newsletters, educational videos, Exclusivefocus, the All Agents Page, conferences and so much more. Our Exclusivefocus magazine just went digital.

Legal issues are not new to Allstate or NAPAA. 16 years ago, there were cases of employee vs independent agent, agent terminations, then changes for Allstate’s Canadian agents. There have been guest speakers at our conferences and attorneys representing captive agents of other carriers sharing their case activities and findings with our membership.

NAPAA supports you and understands your investments in your business. We count on those investments to be valuable when we sell our agencies, as was explained to us when we signed a contract with Allstate. For many, that expectation has been shredded. One day we’re vital and then we’re not.  It’s not evident that our work toward customer retention, evaluations and profitable loss ratios are appreciated.  Many of the current changes are adversely affecting our business and hopes for a secure retirement.

There are still satisfied agents at Allstate who are operating in competitive areas. Many of those get the benefit of coaching and support. They are allowed to expand their business and acquire new offices.  There are other agents who appreciate the money they are making and intend to stay, for now. But there are others that can’t afford a financial loss if they leave and are trying to hang on in hope of positive news about mergers and acquisitions. This includes large and small agencies. Many agents struggling to make ends meet with this new comp program.  Many are concerned with the effect it will have on TPP and agency valuations. A new beginning may not be a viable option.

Many agents did not realize that they signed a unilateral contract allowing Allstate to change that contract with 90 days’ notice.  We may not have known what the entire contract looked like beyond those provided at the end of sales school.  Many of the changes benefit the company and shareholder rather than the customers and the agents. One moment we support the split of service and sells, now everyone must sell with limited or delegated customer service. The commission cut was designed to shift your mindset from service to sales, but now you don’t have the money you need to market, telemarket and purchase leads. Top that off with other agency channels competing against you with lower rates and our business partner ready to starve the ‘emerging’ agents even more with lack of support or further commission cuts and potentially requiring use of IS.

We have plenty of challenges:  AAV, Advisor Pro, ABO, New rankings – Emerging, Elite and Pro Rankings, IS, Chat, Texting, and on and on with technical issue after technical issue. Our leadership is looking for transformative growth. They are finally acknowledging the importance of rate. Allstate knows our customers want an agent, yet they require they now use a phone tree, and we lose the flexibility of our lifeline, our phones.  Agents are asking the company to be more transparent concerning the transformative growth. We can’t plan our future as a business owner with 90 days’ notice. The corporation certainly doesn’t plan for 90 days out.

As agents we need to support each other however we can. You could and should become a member of NAPAA at www.napaausa.org/join. More members will give this organization more influence with stakeholders. As a member, you elect your leadership. NAPAA’s goal is to raise all ships and that’s done with a partnership and open dialogue as opposed to a video or learning about our future in shareholder videos or newspaper and magazine articles.

Fellow members, let us know how we can help you. Invite your fellow agents to join NAPAA and the All Agents Page. Continue posting on that page and others because you are helping another agent.

Now take stock of where your business is mid-year. Look at your earnings versus your expenditure.  Update any goals you’ve set that need tweaking and finish the year strong. We are here for your success.

Claudia Gamache, CPCU, ARM

Spring 2021

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

As I sat down to write my last and final message as the President of NAPAA, I reflected on my past, working as an agent about 20 years ago. At that time, Allstate felt like a family and the corporation seemed supportive of their agency force. It looked to be a lucrative career choice. Before Allstate, I was working as a retention specialist at a middle school with at-risk and Title 1 challenges. I took the plunge and invested whole-heartedly in the Allstate mindset. In the beginning, I began to notice that Allstate philosophy had begun to change.

The change seems to have come incrementally. They started to take away some of our supplies, ink cartridges, paper, message pads, and business cards. Ah, you remember the good old days! Of course, that was annoying, but the real clincher came when they started to reduce our commission on our home policies. Then a few years later, your commission structure got tied into the other factors such as your production credit, etc. The rules continued to change through the years: sometimes an emphasis on how much life insurance you sold, and then juvenile life insurance policies did not count. The changes were never-ending.

Currently there is a big push for ABO, regardless of how competitive your current local market is, and no one cares. When I first started with Allstate, we had a system called Alstar. It was not what I would call a user-friendly system, but eventually you learned how to navigate the system. But at that time, many people worked in the technology support team and if you were stuck on a screen or if things were not working, a simple call would get you through the process. I am not declaring that we should have never changed the Alstar system. My point is more about the technological changes and the lack of support you receive from Allstate and unfortunately, once again, no one cares.

I could go on and on about the changes, but I really would rather focus on NAPAA and the great strides of changes that have made NAPAA better. I was the first female and Hispanic President, which on its own merit did not qualify me to be a good president, but what it did show, is that NAPAA has always been about getting the right people to do the job that needs to be done regardless of what is popular.

NAPAA has never been afraid to stand up for what is right and has always gone to bat for the agent in a professional manner. My experience with NAPAA has been very positive and I do not believe that I was ever singled out by Allstate because I served on the NAPAA board. I was not terminated because I served on the board. I was terminated because Allstate had an agenda and I fell into the category of what did not meet their criteria. The goalpost will continue to move until Allstate completes their elimination of the select number of agencies they have projected don’t fit their business plan.

In conclusion, I have no regrets, I had a great gig going for a long time, I have met some wonderful people, many of them are Allstate agents.  I traveled on Allstate’s dime and had the honor of lobbying against domestic violence in Washington DC representing the state of Arizona. Many grants have come from my office, and along with some other agents that collaborated with me, we made a difference in many children and people’s lives. Many clients received good coverage due to my expertise and I was able to share so much of my knowledge in my speeches to numerous groups.

My advice to you would be to join NAPAA, move forward, do the best that you can do, and don’t look back. Remember Lot’s wife; there is nothing to gain in looking back. My best to all of you agents and to the wonderful board of directors of NAPAA, Ted Paris, our very capable Executive Director; Dirk Beamer, our loyal attorney, and to our management company. Together, we did incredible moves for the protection of the agents we represent and will continue to do so with NO REGRETS!

Good luck and God bless you all!

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Winter 2021

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

As I sat to write this note from the president’s desk, I was amazed how much Allstate really calls the shots in your business. This brought me to a book titled, “Guide to SuccessfulSelf Employment.”

At the beginning of the guide is a definition of self-employment, which can be a business owner, independent
contractor, sole proprietor or freelancer. Regardless of your particular situation, the definition is as follows: “A self-employed person is any person who earns their living from any pursuit of economic activity as opposed to earning a living working for a company or an individual.”

The guide goes on to give examples of running your own business and key elements that need to be considered for success. One needs to
consider location, employee overhead, insurance, computers, tax liabilities, etc. If it genuinely is your business, then you should be the one calling all the shots. After all, you are the one taking on all the financial and legal risks associated with being self-employed. If you happen to fail due to uncontrolled
expenses, poor location, or operational issues, it lies at your feet, the feet of the business owner. On the other hand, if you succeed, it is because you had the vision and magic formula to make it happen.

In the case of Allstate, the lines of being an entrepreneur and a wholly controlled employee have been significantly blurred. Allstate ultimately decides your location, hours of operation, flaky computer applications and ultimately the expense of your employees. If it is not painful enough to endure Allstate’s dictatorial mandates, they are now taking over the telephone system, which is the lifeblood of any insurance business. This, of course, is allegedly for your own good and protection against any E&Os you might happen to have against you. Although Allstate sells the individual enterprise owner concept, they ultimately control all the important business decisions that determine whether you are a success. Even though it is you, the self-employed business owner, whose capital is on the line, business location, employee expenses, technology and where you buy it are all in the hands of the
corporate mothership.

Now, Allstate, and not the entrepreneur, controls marketing and business customer communications. As an agency owner, you take all the financial risks.
You advertise, advise clients and follow the Allstate rules. But Allstate has virtually nothing at stake if you fail. It is the self-employed, solely the business owner, who invests her entire life savings, puts her name on her shingle and incurs the risks of venturing off on her own. When evaluating the definition of self-employment and being a small business owner, I am sorry to tell you, being an Allstate agent is more like being a captive employee. Employees can check out at the end of the day. However, when it is your business, it is your business 24×7.

Business owners should not become pawns, making millions for the corporation or the president of Allstate and his “yes” Board. If you think I am wrong in my analysis, you still might be drinking the Kool-Aid and believing in Santa. There probably has not been a better time to join NAPAA. This legal defense is solely for the benefit of the Allstate agent. Consider joining and sending a contribution today.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Fall 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

Boy, have things changed!

As I was cleaning my office, I found my old recruiting marketing material. Reading the Allstate promises reminded me of the proverbial story of the frog in the boiling pot. In this story, the frog is placed in a pot of water and the temperature is raised so gradually that he does not recognize the danger he is in until the water is boiling around him and it is too late to escape.

The recruitment brochure states: “Building a Business as an Allstate Exclusive Agent.” “Exclusive” has two definitions: 1. excluding or nor admitting other things. 2. restricting or limited to the person, group or area concerned.

I, and thousands of potential agents, took the scary first step into the proverbial pot by signing up as Exclusive Agents. We took out loans, borrowed from family, cashed in 401Ks and sometimes quit corporate jobs with guaranteed paychecks to become business owners.

How did I miss that Allstate was raising the temperature? How could I have known it had veered off the path promising busines ownership and the opportunity to sell as retirement security?

I remember the first time I heard that some independent agents could sell Allstate insurance in a small, rural communities; I felt like a wide-eyed young woman who lived in Pollyanna. I thought it was a breach, but, as all of you agents know, the word “Exclusive” has a new definition in the world of Allstate.

About one year later, I found that Allstate was being sold by independent agents in my city without any concern for the “Exclusive” title. Two years ago, my best friend’s son signed up with SelectQuote insurance in California. He is also an Allstate agent; except he is working for Select and can also sell other companies in 48 states.

The incremental changes that Allstate has made throughout the years have not been beneficial to the Agents; we have adversely affected most. Many agents’ books have decreased in value due to the compensation changes. Now, we are unable to sell our books. When I look back, I wonder if I should have leaped out of the pot a long time ago. Sadly, the good hands were not there for agents.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Summer 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

The “good hands” people at Allstate, the hands that once showed such confidence, are no longer supporting agency owners. 2020 has proven to be a rough year for our agent community, with or without the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have learned that the “good hands” of Allstate really don’t extend to the agent community. The loyal agents who have faithfully served their clients and communities for years have discovered that Allstate has taken the reins of their businesses and made selling their agencies virtually impossible, especially for small and medium-sized agencies. This made our books of business, which we worked every day to build, plummet in value. This investment is now being held hostage by the “good hands” people.

The changes in renewal compensation announced in late fall 2019 adversely affected the value of our businesses. The pandemic that occurred in the spring 2020 put even more pressure on the agencies’ bottom lines. Coupled with Allstate’s decision to enforce ABO’s arbitrary demands, hundreds of agents have been forced to close their doors so Allstate could pursue the low-cost 800 number business model and implement an integrated service center to provide “good hands” service without the advice or guidance of a local professional agent.

Even though the “good hands” is moving away from the model that serves agency owners, we know that people buy from people they like. Our clients don’t buy off the web, they buy from US. Financial investments aren’t made over toll-free calls, they are the result of relationships cultivated by years of community investment and support. The lifeblood of Allstate is hardworking agents. Let’s hope they realize this before it’s too late. Or, maybe this is the new normal for Allstate which I, for one, do not like.

There has never been a better time to join NAPAA because we are the only voice for agent advocacy. We do thank Allstate for being a marketing force for growth and membership acquisition for NAPAA.

Meet the Team – Board, Staff and Executive Director

Members of NAPAA are supported by a dedicated Board, Staff and Executive Director.

Board

Each year, we hold an election for board members. Some members are new while others are up for a re-election of their two-year terms.

All Board Directors are actively engaged with and understand the challenges of being an Allstate agency owner or Exclusive Financial Specialist. They are required to be active agents under contract when elected, though we do allow members to serve the remainder of their terms if they leave Allstate. Board members are not allowed to serve if they operate an independent insurance agency. Check out https://napaausa.org/ to read the bios of the board members.

I am pleased to present the board of directors for the upcoming year below. I look forward to working with, and offer my congratulations to, each and every one of them.

First, congratulations to the agents who have stepped up to take officer positions:

  • Claudia Gamache (IL) was re-elected to her second term as Vice President;
  • Lezlee Liljenberg (TX) was elected Secretary, replacing Virginia Ottenberg (OH) whose term on the board expired; and
  • John Harvester (IN) is our current Treasurer.

In addition to the officers above, the following board members were elected:

  • Rob McBride (AZ) to his second term;
  • Mike Garofalo (CT) for his second term;
  • Javier Najera (TX) was elected to replace a retiring board member; and
  • Fred Manfredi (VA) was elected to his first term on the board.

Finally, due to the increase in membership over the past 18 months, the board decided to increase its number from 8 to 10 for the upcoming year to adequately address member concerns.

  • Dean Gentile (NY) and
  • Scott Verbarg (IN) were appointed to the board for the next calendar year.

Staff

In addition to our board members, NAPAA employs the services of an association management firm, IMI Association Executives, of Raleigh, NC, to run day-to-day operations. Your contacts there are Peter Kralka, our account manager, Christina Alevizatos, who handles general questions regarding membership status and Meredith Parker, who helps us with media and publishing. Please reach out to them if you have questions. Our toll-free number is 877-627-2248 or 919-573-5025. Email membership@napaainc.org .

Executive Director

Finally, we employ an executive director to run our organization. Ted Paris has been our executive director for over three years. Prior to taking over the position, Ted purchased three Allstate agencies in West Central Indiana and ran them for 12 years. Ted was previously a district manager for Farmers Insurance for 18 years. He can be reached at tparis@napaausa.org .

Our only purpose is to represent you- the agency owner. As you can see, we have the commitment and means to do that. We have the resolve and resources needed to be your voice to the Company, to the Allstate Board of Directors, to the media and to the investment community. We have the knowledge to give you unbiased advice and library of needed resources for you to use.

Thank you for supporting us so we may support you.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Spring 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

As I wrote this article, I felt a little nostalgic regarding how things used to be at Allstate. My affiliation with Allstate will reach 19 years in July. My have things have changed at Allstate! And I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if current and future changes will be for the better or worse.

We simply have a few choices to make. We can decide to sell and hope that Allstate approves the buyer, or we can take TPP for those of us that qualify. An additional pathway is to “go for it” again and use best practices for our business to ride the waves. We are so fortunate to have a very good executive director, Ted Paris, who has great experience as a manager and former agency owner. He is ready and willing to discuss issues and help you plan for your future.

My history with Allstate is not as long as many of yours, but I do remember how Allstate tried to look like they really cared about the agents. As one of my board members said recently “they used to treat us like royalty.” This is not the case for many of the small-to-medium size agencies today. There is a long list of changes implemented by Allstate and I don’t need to go into the details of the new compensation plan, the integrated service option, the lack of executive advantage dollars and even the charge for marketing materials.

The industry is changing as many industries have changed and will continue to change in our lifetimes. Captive Allstate agents appear to be going the way of dinosaurs; they are disappearing. But we must face the era in which we live. The Baby Boomers still like to have a personal agent because they have assets and want them protected. Younger groups of people only want help when they need it. Insurance Companies are marketing more to these do-it-yourself techies. But of course, when things go wrong, we are the first to be called.

When I was young, there were pay phones in every corner. Today, I doubt many of us long for pay phones. I can remember when I was in high school and microwave ovens were the future of cooking. I don’t think many of us cook with them, but I would bet that just about every household in America has one. I was learning how to work with computers in high school and they were cumbersome and huge, no one knew that, in several years, they would be vital assets to maintain just about everything in our lives When I walked into McDonalds the other day, I was instructed that all orders MUST be placed at the kiosk instead of the counter. As I stood at the kiosk, I realized that they’ll replace the jobs of the 16- year-olds that used to work at McDonald’s during the summer months. When I thought about what they do now for extra cash, I noted that they certainly do not sell newspapers, because hardly anyone reads print and newspapers are going out of business. We used to receive our news from paper and three major network news channels. Now it is all about cable and social media.

Times have changed and we need to move with them. So, my advice is to make changes, move incrementally with the industry and have flexibility. Or maybe it’s time to move elsewhere. Smokey Bear said “only you can prevent forest fires.” Today, I want you to know that only you can decide what is right for your future.

There was a time when agents could set the goals they wanted to achieve in their agencies. But, like pay phones, those days are long gone. Since Allstate Corporation does not see the agent as an integral asset to the future and, in all fairness, considering online purchases for insurance is the rising tide of the industry, you need to consider what is good for you and Allstate Corporation will do what is good for it. I love what I do so I am here until Allstate decides it doesn’t want me or need me.

I do want to end on a positive note: when I was young, we had vinyl albums and turn tables (I actually still have one and my old albums). Those days were done due to technology but there is a current trend to own albums and turntables again. They are more costly than streaming music online, but young people are fascinated by them. My hope is that soon captive Allstate agents will be like albums and turntables and will be worth more to those that seek them in the future. Good luck and all the best to you.

Debe Campos-Fleenor

President’s Message


Winter 2021

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

As I sat to write this note from the president’s desk, I was amazed how much Allstate really calls the shots in your business. This brought me to a book titled, “Guide to SuccessfulSelf Employment.”

At the beginning of the guide is a definition of self-employment, which can be a business owner, independent
contractor, sole proprietor or freelancer. Regardless of your particular situation, the definition is as follows: “A self-employed person is any person who earns their living from any pursuit of economic activity as opposed to earning a living working for a company or an individual.”

The guide goes on to give examples of running your own business and key elements that need to be considered for success. One needs to
consider location, employee overhead, insurance, computers, tax liabilities, etc. If it genuinely is your business, then you should be the one calling all the shots. After all, you are the one taking on all the financial and legal risks associated with being self-employed. If you happen to fail due to uncontrolled
expenses, poor location, or operational issues, it lies at your feet, the feet of the business owner. On the other hand, if you succeed, it is because you had the vision and magic formula to make it happen.

In the case of Allstate, the lines of being an entrepreneur and a wholly controlled employee have been significantly blurred. Allstate ultimately decides your location, hours of operation, flaky computer applications and ultimately the expense of your employees. If it is not painful enough to endure Allstate’s dictatorial mandates, they are now taking over the telephone system, which is the lifeblood of any insurance business. This, of course, is allegedly for your own good and protection against any E&Os you might happen to have against you. Although Allstate sells the individual enterprise owner concept, they ultimately control all the important business decisions that determine whether you are a success. Even though it is you, the self-employed business owner, whose capital is on the line, business location, employee expenses, technology and where you buy it are all in the hands of the
corporate mothership.

Now, Allstate, and not the entrepreneur, controls marketing and business customer communications. As an agency owner, you take all the financial risks.
You advertise, advise clients and follow the Allstate rules. But Allstate has virtually nothing at stake if you fail. It is the self-employed, solely the business owner, who invests her entire life savings, puts her name on her shingle and incurs the risks of venturing off on her own. When evaluating the definition of self-employment and being a small business owner, I am sorry to tell you, being an Allstate agent is more like being a captive employee. Employees can check out at the end of the day. However, when it is your business, it is your business 24×7.

Business owners should not become pawns, making millions for the corporation or the president of Allstate and his “yes” Board. If you think I am wrong in my analysis, you still might be drinking the Kool-Aid and believing in Santa. There probably has not been a better time to join NAPAA. This legal defense is solely for the benefit of the Allstate agent. Consider joining and sending a contribution today.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Fall 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

Boy, have things changed!

As I was cleaning my office, I found my old recruiting marketing material. Reading the Allstate promises reminded me of the proverbial story of the frog in the boiling pot. In this story, the frog is placed in a pot of water and the temperature is raised so gradually that he does not recognize the danger he is in until the water is boiling around him and it is too late to escape.

The recruitment brochure states: “Building a Business as an Allstate Exclusive Agent.” “Exclusive” has two definitions: 1. excluding or nor admitting other things. 2. restricting or limited to the person, group or area concerned.

I, and thousands of potential agents, took the scary first step into the proverbial pot by signing up as Exclusive Agents. We took out loans, borrowed from family, cashed in 401Ks and sometimes quit corporate jobs with guaranteed paychecks to become business owners.

How did I miss that Allstate was raising the temperature? How could I have known it had veered off the path promising busines ownership and the opportunity to sell as retirement security?

I remember the first time I heard that some independent agents could sell Allstate insurance in a small, rural communities; I felt like a wide-eyed young woman who lived in Pollyanna. I thought it was a breach, but, as all of you agents know, the word “Exclusive” has a new definition in the world of Allstate.

About one year later, I found that Allstate was being sold by independent agents in my city without any concern for the “Exclusive” title. Two years ago, my best friend’s son signed up with SelectQuote insurance in California. He is also an Allstate agent; except he is working for Select and can also sell other companies in 48 states.

The incremental changes that Allstate has made throughout the years have not been beneficial to the Agents; we have adversely affected most. Many agents’ books have decreased in value due to the compensation changes. Now, we are unable to sell our books. When I look back, I wonder if I should have leaped out of the pot a long time ago. Sadly, the good hands were not there for agents.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Summer 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

The “good hands” people at Allstate, the hands that once showed such confidence, are no longer supporting agency owners. 2020 has proven to be a rough year for our agent community, with or without the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have learned that the “good hands” of Allstate really don’t extend to the agent community. The loyal agents who have faithfully served their clients and communities for years have discovered that Allstate has taken the reins of their businesses and made selling their agencies virtually impossible, especially for small and medium-sized agencies. This made our books of business, which we worked every day to build, plummet in value. This investment is now being held hostage by the “good hands” people.

The changes in renewal compensation announced in late fall 2019 adversely affected the value of our businesses. The pandemic that occurred in the spring 2020 put even more pressure on the agencies’ bottom lines. Coupled with Allstate’s decision to enforce ABO’s arbitrary demands, hundreds of agents have been forced to close their doors so Allstate could pursue the low-cost 800 number business model and implement an integrated service center to provide “good hands” service without the advice or guidance of a local professional agent.

Even though the “good hands” is moving away from the model that serves agency owners, we know that people buy from people they like. Our clients don’t buy off the web, they buy from US. Financial investments aren’t made over toll-free calls, they are the result of relationships cultivated by years of community investment and support. The lifeblood of Allstate is hardworking agents. Let’s hope they realize this before it’s too late. Or, maybe this is the new normal for Allstate which I, for one, do not like.

There has never been a better time to join NAPAA because we are the only voice for agent advocacy. We do thank Allstate for being a marketing force for growth and membership acquisition for NAPAA.

Meet the Team – Board, Staff and Executive Director

Members of NAPAA are supported by a dedicated Board, Staff and Executive Director.

Board

Each year, we hold an election for board members. Some members are new while others are up for a re-election of their two-year terms.

All Board Directors are actively engaged with and understand the challenges of being an Allstate agency owner or Exclusive Financial Specialist. They are required to be active agents under contract when elected, though we do allow members to serve the remainder of their terms if they leave Allstate. Board members are not allowed to serve if they operate an independent insurance agency. Check out https://napaausa.org/ to read the bios of the board members.

I am pleased to present the board of directors for the upcoming year below. I look forward to working with, and offer my congratulations to, each and every one of them.

First, congratulations to the agents who have stepped up to take officer positions:

  • Claudia Gamache (IL) was re-elected to her second term as Vice President;
  • Lezlee Liljenberg (TX) was elected Secretary, replacing Virginia Ottenberg (OH) whose term on the board expired; and
  • John Harvester (IN) is our current Treasurer.

In addition to the officers above, the following board members were elected:

  • Rob McBride (AZ) to his second term;
  • Mike Garofalo (CT) for his second term;
  • Javier Najera (TX) was elected to replace a retiring board member; and
  • Fred Manfredi (VA) was elected to his first term on the board.

Finally, due to the increase in membership over the past 18 months, the board decided to increase its number from 8 to 10 for the upcoming year to adequately address member concerns.

  • Dean Gentile (NY) and
  • Scott Verbarg (IN) were appointed to the board for the next calendar year.

Staff

In addition to our board members, NAPAA employs the services of an association management firm, IMI Association Executives, of Raleigh, NC, to run day-to-day operations. Your contacts there are Peter Kralka, our account manager, Christina Alevizatos, who handles general questions regarding membership status and Meredith Parker, who helps us with media and publishing. Please reach out to them if you have questions. Our toll-free number is 877-627-2248 or 919-573-5025. Email membership@napaainc.org .

Executive Director

Finally, we employ an executive director to run our organization. Ted Paris has been our executive director for over three years. Prior to taking over the position, Ted purchased three Allstate agencies in West Central Indiana and ran them for 12 years. Ted was previously a district manager for Farmers Insurance for 18 years. He can be reached at tparis@napaausa.org .

Our only purpose is to represent you- the agency owner. As you can see, we have the commitment and means to do that. We have the resolve and resources needed to be your voice to the Company, to the Allstate Board of Directors, to the media and to the investment community. We have the knowledge to give you unbiased advice and library of needed resources for you to use.

Thank you for supporting us so we may support you.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Spring 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

As I wrote this article, I felt a little nostalgic regarding how things used to be at Allstate. My affiliation with Allstate will reach 19 years in July. My have things have changed at Allstate! And I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if current and future changes will be for the better or worse.

We simply have a few choices to make. We can decide to sell and hope that Allstate approves the buyer, or we can take TPP for those of us that qualify. An additional pathway is to “go for it” again and use best practices for our business to ride the waves. We are so fortunate to have a very good executive director, Ted Paris, who has great experience as a manager and former agency owner. He is ready and willing to discuss issues and help you plan for your future.

My history with Allstate is not as long as many of yours, but I do remember how Allstate tried to look like they really cared about the agents. As one of my board members said recently “they used to treat us like royalty.” This is not the case for many of the small-to-medium size agencies today. There is a long list of changes implemented by Allstate and I don’t need to go into the details of the new compensation plan, the integrated service option, the lack of executive advantage dollars and even the charge for marketing materials.

The industry is changing as many industries have changed and will continue to change in our lifetimes. Captive Allstate agents appear to be going the way of dinosaurs; they are disappearing. But we must face the era in which we live. The Baby Boomers still like to have a personal agent because they have assets and want them protected. Younger groups of people only want help when they need it. Insurance Companies are marketing more to these do-it-yourself techies. But of course, when things go wrong, we are the first to be called.

When I was young, there were pay phones in every corner. Today, I doubt many of us long for pay phones. I can remember when I was in high school and microwave ovens were the future of cooking. I don’t think many of us cook with them, but I would bet that just about every household in America has one. I was learning how to work with computers in high school and they were cumbersome and huge, no one knew that, in several years, they would be vital assets to maintain just about everything in our lives When I walked into McDonalds the other day, I was instructed that all orders MUST be placed at the kiosk instead of the counter. As I stood at the kiosk, I realized that they’ll replace the jobs of the 16- year-olds that used to work at McDonald’s during the summer months. When I thought about what they do now for extra cash, I noted that they certainly do not sell newspapers, because hardly anyone reads print and newspapers are going out of business. We used to receive our news from paper and three major network news channels. Now it is all about cable and social media.

Times have changed and we need to move with them. So, my advice is to make changes, move incrementally with the industry and have flexibility. Or maybe it’s time to move elsewhere. Smokey Bear said “only you can prevent forest fires.” Today, I want you to know that only you can decide what is right for your future.

There was a time when agents could set the goals they wanted to achieve in their agencies. But, like pay phones, those days are long gone. Since Allstate Corporation does not see the agent as an integral asset to the future and, in all fairness, considering online purchases for insurance is the rising tide of the industry, you need to consider what is good for you and Allstate Corporation will do what is good for it. I love what I do so I am here until Allstate decides it doesn’t want me or need me.

I do want to end on a positive note: when I was young, we had vinyl albums and turn tables (I actually still have one and my old albums). Those days were done due to technology but there is a current trend to own albums and turntables again. They are more costly than streaming music online, but young people are fascinated by them. My hope is that soon captive Allstate agents will be like albums and turntables and will be worth more to those that seek them in the future. Good luck and all the best to you.

Debe Campos-Fleenor

President’s Message


Fall 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

Boy, have things changed!

As I was cleaning my office, I found my old recruiting marketing material. Reading the Allstate promises reminded me of the proverbial story of the frog in the boiling pot. In this story, the frog is placed in a pot of water and the temperature is raised so gradually that he does not recognize the danger he is in until the water is boiling around him and it is too late to escape.

The recruitment brochure states: “Building a Business as an Allstate Exclusive Agent.” “Exclusive” has two definitions: 1. excluding or nor admitting other things. 2. restricting or limited to the person, group or area concerned.

I, and thousands of potential agents, took the scary first step into the proverbial pot by signing up as Exclusive Agents. We took out loans, borrowed from family, cashed in 401Ks and sometimes quit corporate jobs with guaranteed paychecks to become business owners.

How did I miss that Allstate was raising the temperature? How could I have known it had veered off the path promising busines ownership and the opportunity to sell as retirement security?

I remember the first time I heard that some independent agents could sell Allstate insurance in a small, rural communities; I felt like a wide-eyed young woman who lived in Pollyanna. I thought it was a breach, but, as all of you agents know, the word “Exclusive” has a new definition in the world of Allstate.

About one year later, I found that Allstate was being sold by independent agents in my city without any concern for the “Exclusive” title. Two years ago, my best friend’s son signed up with SelectQuote insurance in California. He is also an Allstate agent; except he is working for Select and can also sell other companies in 48 states.

The incremental changes that Allstate has made throughout the years have not been beneficial to the Agents; we have adversely affected most. Many agents’ books have decreased in value due to the compensation changes. Now, we are unable to sell our books. When I look back, I wonder if I should have leaped out of the pot a long time ago. Sadly, the good hands were not there for agents.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Summer 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

The “good hands” people at Allstate, the hands that once showed such confidence, are no longer supporting agency owners. 2020 has proven to be a rough year for our agent community, with or without the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have learned that the “good hands” of Allstate really don’t extend to the agent community. The loyal agents who have faithfully served their clients and communities for years have discovered that Allstate has taken the reins of their businesses and made selling their agencies virtually impossible, especially for small and medium-sized agencies. This made our books of business, which we worked every day to build, plummet in value. This investment is now being held hostage by the “good hands” people.

The changes in renewal compensation announced in late fall 2019 adversely affected the value of our businesses. The pandemic that occurred in the spring 2020 put even more pressure on the agencies’ bottom lines. Coupled with Allstate’s decision to enforce ABO’s arbitrary demands, hundreds of agents have been forced to close their doors so Allstate could pursue the low-cost 800 number business model and implement an integrated service center to provide “good hands” service without the advice or guidance of a local professional agent.

Even though the “good hands” is moving away from the model that serves agency owners, we know that people buy from people they like. Our clients don’t buy off the web, they buy from US. Financial investments aren’t made over toll-free calls, they are the result of relationships cultivated by years of community investment and support. The lifeblood of Allstate is hardworking agents. Let’s hope they realize this before it’s too late. Or, maybe this is the new normal for Allstate which I, for one, do not like.

There has never been a better time to join NAPAA because we are the only voice for agent advocacy. We do thank Allstate for being a marketing force for growth and membership acquisition for NAPAA.

Meet the Team – Board, Staff and Executive Director

Members of NAPAA are supported by a dedicated Board, Staff and Executive Director.

Board

Each year, we hold an election for board members. Some members are new while others are up for a re-election of their two-year terms.

All Board Directors are actively engaged with and understand the challenges of being an Allstate agency owner or Exclusive Financial Specialist. They are required to be active agents under contract when elected, though we do allow members to serve the remainder of their terms if they leave Allstate. Board members are not allowed to serve if they operate an independent insurance agency. Check out https://napaausa.org/ to read the bios of the board members.

I am pleased to present the board of directors for the upcoming year below. I look forward to working with, and offer my congratulations to, each and every one of them.

First, congratulations to the agents who have stepped up to take officer positions:

  • Claudia Gamache (IL) was re-elected to her second term as Vice President;
  • Lezlee Liljenberg (TX) was elected Secretary, replacing Virginia Ottenberg (OH) whose term on the board expired; and
  • John Harvester (IN) is our current Treasurer.

In addition to the officers above, the following board members were elected:

  • Rob McBride (AZ) to his second term;
  • Mike Garofalo (CT) for his second term;
  • Javier Najera (TX) was elected to replace a retiring board member; and
  • Fred Manfredi (VA) was elected to his first term on the board.

Finally, due to the increase in membership over the past 18 months, the board decided to increase its number from 8 to 10 for the upcoming year to adequately address member concerns.

  • Dean Gentile (NY) and
  • Scott Verbarg (IN) were appointed to the board for the next calendar year.

Staff

In addition to our board members, NAPAA employs the services of an association management firm, IMI Association Executives, of Raleigh, NC, to run day-to-day operations. Your contacts there are Peter Kralka, our account manager, Christina Alevizatos, who handles general questions regarding membership status and Meredith Parker, who helps us with media and publishing. Please reach out to them if you have questions. Our toll-free number is 877-627-2248 or 919-573-5025. Email membership@napaainc.org .

Executive Director

Finally, we employ an executive director to run our organization. Ted Paris has been our executive director for over three years. Prior to taking over the position, Ted purchased three Allstate agencies in West Central Indiana and ran them for 12 years. Ted was previously a district manager for Farmers Insurance for 18 years. He can be reached at tparis@napaausa.org .

Our only purpose is to represent you- the agency owner. As you can see, we have the commitment and means to do that. We have the resolve and resources needed to be your voice to the Company, to the Allstate Board of Directors, to the media and to the investment community. We have the knowledge to give you unbiased advice and library of needed resources for you to use.

Thank you for supporting us so we may support you.

Debe Campos-Fleenor


Spring 2020

Picture of NAPAA President Debe.

As I wrote this article, I felt a little nostalgic regarding how things used to be at Allstate. My affiliation with Allstate will reach 19 years in July. My have things have changed at Allstate! And I don’t have a crystal ball to tell you if current and future changes will be for the better or worse.

We simply have a few choices to make. We can decide to sell and hope that Allstate approves the buyer, or we can take TPP for those of us that qualify. An additional pathway is to “go for it” again and use best practices for our business to ride the waves. We are so fortunate to have a very good executive director, Ted Paris, who has great experience as a manager and former agency owner. He is ready and willing to discuss issues and help you plan for your future.

My history with Allstate is not as long as many of yours, but I do remember how Allstate tried to look like they really cared about the agents. As one of my board members said recently “they used to treat us like royalty.” This is not the case for many of the small-to-medium size agencies today. There is a long list of changes implemented by Allstate and I don’t need to go into the details of the new compensation plan, the integrated service option, the lack of executive advantage dollars and even the charge for marketing materials.

The industry is changing as many industries have changed and will continue to change in our lifetimes. Captive Allstate agents appear to be going the way of dinosaurs; they are disappearing. But we must face the era in which we live. The Baby Boomers still like to have a personal agent because they have assets and want them protected. Younger groups of people only want help when they need it. Insurance Companies are marketing more to these do-it-yourself techies. But of course, when things go wrong, we are the first to be called.

When I was young, there were pay phones in every corner. Today, I doubt many of us long for pay phones. I can remember when I was in high school and microwave ovens were the future of cooking. I don’t think many of us cook with them, but I would bet that just about every household in America has one. I was learning how to work with computers in high school and they were cumbersome and huge, no one knew that, in several years, they would be vital assets to maintain just about everything in our lives When I walked into McDonalds the other day, I was instructed that all orders MUST be placed at the kiosk instead of the counter. As I stood at the kiosk, I realized that they’ll replace the jobs of the 16- year-olds that used to work at McDonald’s during the summer months. When I thought about what they do now for extra cash, I noted that they certainly do not sell newspapers, because hardly anyone reads print and newspapers are going out of business. We used to receive our news from paper and three major network news channels. Now it is all about cable and social media.

Times have changed and we need to move with them. So, my advice is to make changes, move incrementally with the industry and have flexibility. Or maybe it’s time to move elsewhere. Smokey Bear said “only you can prevent forest fires.” Today, I want you to know that only you can decide what is right for your future.

There was a time when agents could set the goals they wanted to achieve in their agencies. But, like pay phones, those days are long gone. Since Allstate Corporation does not see the agent as an integral asset to the future and, in all fairness, considering online purchases for insurance is the rising tide of the industry, you need to consider what is good for you and Allstate Corporation will do what is good for it. I love what I do so I am here until Allstate decides it doesn’t want me or need me.

I do want to end on a positive note: when I was young, we had vinyl albums and turn tables (I actually still have one and my old albums). Those days were done due to technology but there is a current trend to own albums and turntables again. They are more costly than streaming music online, but young people are fascinated by them. My hope is that soon captive Allstate agents will be like albums and turntables and will be worth more to those that seek them in the future. Good luck and all the best to you.

Debe Campos-Fleenor