Become a Best Practices Agency

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Since 1993, IIABA’s Best Practices Study has examined top-performing agencies across the country.  For these agencies, inclusion provides the prestigious status of “Best Practices Agency” and opens the doors to many benefits.
​The purpose of the research is to compile the operating statistics of the country’s leading agents and brokers.  This is provided to the industry to provide benchmarks, operational information on growth, profitability, productivity and financial stability.
The Process 
  • Once every three years the Big “I” requests agency nominations from state association and company partners. This is taking place now until January 2019.
  • Nominated agencies are invited to participate in February 2019.
  • Agencies that choose to participate submit detailed financial and operational information which is scored and ranked objectively. Responses to management and industry-related questions also requested with data. The invitations will go out to those nominated in February 2019. The nominated agencies must submit their data by Mid-April 2019.
  • The top agencies in the six revenue categories are included, notified and deemed “Best Practices Agencies.” Participants will be selected and notified in June 2019.

  • The Best Practices Agency names announced to the industry in September 2019.
  • The Study results are released annually. For the 2019 cycle: 2019, 2020, 2021.
  • To retain status, each agency must submit year-end results each year.  There is no other commitment. 
Find out how to become a Best Practices Agency, learn more about Best Practices products online,  or email Best Practices staff with questions.
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Joe Vincent Management Seminar Preview: The Risk & Rewards of the Sharing Economy


Did you know that a car rental agency is the original form of car sharing? Are you familiar with the 3 periods of TNCs? What do AirBnB and VRBO have in common? If a sharing economy risk contacted you for coverage, do you know what information to collect?

The concept of the “sharing economy” is not new but it has exploded over recent years for peer-to-peer sharing. Online social networks and mobile electronic devices have created an environment to easily match consumers for peer-to-peer exchange of goods and services. 

The sharing economy is an ever-changing space with little to no regulation, therefore, insurance carriers are struggling to create best practices and products in a timely manner. Many agents are unsure of what questions to ask and are opening themselves up to E&O exposures. Likewise, consumers are open to risk as they are unaware of exclusions on their policies. The economy is also being impacted on several scales – such as rental car companies, hotels, motels and B&Bs.

During her presentation at the Joe Vincent Management Seminar, Insuring the Sharing Economy – The Risks and Rewards, Munich RE Sr. Vice President Maureen Brown will address the insurance implications of the sharing economy, explain its risks and rewards, and describe what is needed to procure coverage.

Learn More and Register

About Maureen Brown, CPCU, RPLU

maureen-brown-tmb-smallMaureen Brown, CPCU, is Underwriting and Operations Lead for Munich Reinsurance America, Inc.’s Incubator, a strategic business unit responsible for identifying, researching and recommending new areas of growth for the company’s US P&C operations.

Prior to transferring to her current role, Maureen was a casualty underwriter in the Chief Underwriting Office of the Specialty Markets division. In that role, she supported both the Programs and Alternative Market units as a referral casualty underwriter focusing on emerging issues such as drones, terrorism and cyber. Previous to Munich Re, Maureen held management positions in both Underwriting and Operations. In addition to her insurance company experience, Maureen spent several years at an MGA as the Chief Underwriting Officer for a national program for landscapers and arborists.

Maureen is the current chair of the CPCU Society’s Excess, Surplus and Specialty Lines Interest Group. Her committee focuses on addressing current and relevant issues for this community through webinars, articles and annual meeting sessions.



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BCH Profiled in Independent Agent Magazine


IIAT member agency Brady, Chapman, Holland & Assocs. is featured in the latest issue of Independent Agent magazine. IIAT Chair Jeff Brady, president and CEO of BCH, spoke about the importance of benchmarking to gain valuable insights into how to improve agency performance.

“Best Practices gave us the start of operationally trying to measure whether we were attaining what we hoped to attain through comparison,” Brady says. “That has spun off into us doing a bunch of things on our own. So we have not only external benchmarks through Best Practices, but we also have enough history that we can compare against our previous results.”

BCH is meticulous about measuring everything from quantifying the efficiency created by technology to revenue per employee to liquidity. The results are shared with employees at a town hall meeting each month. “We talk about where we are, averages, comparing ourselves against the industry—and comparing ourselves against ourselves.”

Read the article.

Get Featured in IA Magazine!

Are you an agency with a great story to tell? Are you a trailblazer in the tech space, or someone who has found success in a niche market, for example? Contact IA Magazine. Email Jacquelyn Connelly, senior editor, and Will Jones, IA assistant editor, with contact information.

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Tips for Navigating M&A Hazards

“Don’t ‘ready, fire, aim.'”

That was one of the tips from Matthew Davis, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions claims manager, when he served as a panelist during the recent Big “I” Agency Risk Management Essentials webinar, Navigating the Hazards of Buying, Selling and Merging an Agency.

During the session, a panel of industry leaders navigated attendees through many of the tax implications, due-diligence activities, and errors & omissions exposures that need to be considered before buying, selling or merging an agency.

The panelists made so many excellent points during the discussion that the Big “I” Swiss Re Risk Management team collected a few of their favorites in a one-page Things to Know document, which contains more than 20 items insurance agents should consider, as well as whether the tip pertains to a buyer, seller or merger.

If you are facing a merger or acquisition now or in the future, check out the Navigating the Hazards of Buying, Selling and Merging an Agency webinar slides and M&A tip sheet​.

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2018 Election Results – “The Beto Effect”


With the 2018 elections behind us, we can now begin to assess what we should learn from the results. Although Beto O’Rourke was not successful in knocking off Sen. Ted Cruz, the excitement created by his candidacy, along with straight party voting by Democrats, brought some unexpected results. Cruz’s narrow victory (50.9% – 48.3%) was not certain until late in the evening, and as they say in politics, coattails can be very long and decisive, given the right circumstances. The “Beto effect” created the coattails and the circumstances were there for a significant shift in Texas’ political makeup.

Results of the statewide races were as expected but the outcome was much closer than previous elections in the red state of Texas: Governor Abbott won by fourteen points; Lt. Governor Patrick won by five points; Attorney General Paxton won by four points; Comptroller Hegar won by ten points; Land Commissioner Bush won by nine points; Agriculture Commissioner Miller won by six points, and Railroad Commissioner Craddick won by nine points.

Texas House
The evening began with Republicans holding a significant advantage in the Texas House: 95 R’s to 55 D’s. With the results of the election completed, the Republicans lost 12 seats to the Democrats moving the advantage to 83 R’s to 67 D’s. Most significant Republican losses included incumbent losses in eight races and Democratic wins in four open seats.

It is not surprising that the results of the loss of Republican seats came in three urban areas: four in the Austin area, six in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area, and two in the Houston area.

Texas Senate
As in the House, the evening began with the Republicans holding a significant advantage in the Texas Senate. While there were two incumbent losses, the Senate will remain strongly controlled by a conservative majority under the leadership of Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

Incumbent Senators Don Huffines from Dallas and Konni Burton from Ft. Worth were both defeated by their Democrat challengers. Senator Sylvia Garcia will be leaving the Senate as well, being elected Tuesday night to Congress. It is all but certain the seat will remain in the hands of the Democrats, so expect the Senate to begin the session at 19 R’s and 12 D’s – the slimmest of margins for guaranteed sixty percent needed to move legislation without bi-partisan support.

Texas Judicial Races
There were mixed results in the judicial races that IIAT was interested in this year. All three Republican justices of the Texas Supreme court were reelected, which was positive news. In a surprising turnaround from previous years, every Republican candidate for Appellate Court Judges was defeated by the Democratic challenger. Appellate courts had been controlled by Republicans up until last night. Now the shift in power to the Democrats could be a major change in judicial philosophy in Texas.

Federal Outcomes
Much like in Texas, the outcome of the federal races was not unexpected. There were some positives from the evening; Republicans increased their majority in the US Senate; as well as some negatives; the Democrats taking control of the U.S. House.

Texas had six or eight hotly contested Congressional races and the Republicans retained all except two. Powerful Congressman Pete Sessions of Dallas was defeated as well as long-time Congressman John Culberson of Houston. As stated, Sen. Ted Cruz defeated a major challenge by Beto O’Rourke to retain the Senate seat.

Nationally there are a number of undecided races in both the House and Senate, but here is what we know at this time:

  • Senate results: 52 Republicans; 43 Democrats; 2 Independents; 2 too close to call; and 1 runoff.
  • House results: 221 Democrats; 195 Republicans; 19 undecided.

IIAT’s Governmental Affairs team looks forward to meeting and getting to know the newcomers and also continuing our relationships with friends who will be returning. We will continue to promote our members interests in the upcoming legislative session and will do all we can to protect the Independent Agency system in Texas.


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Announcing Cyber Liability Exclusively for IIAT Members

IIAT is excited to announce an exclusive partnership with Wingman Insurance for cyber liability coverage. IIAT members can now access the Wingman Cyber online platform to provide cyber liability insurance for their commercial clients. Additionally, IIAT Advantage E&O clients will have access to Wingman cyber liability coverage for theirwingman-cyber own agencies.

Wingman is a hybrid insurance and technology company that leverages the latest software to streamline every aspect of the sale and service of commercial insurance. Wingman provides A+-rated cyber coverage through an easy online application, a fully-automated policy issuance and online direct bill payment process. Agents can rate, quote, purchase, service, and bill online through Wingman in as little as 60 seconds.

All insurance agents must carry cyber liability coverage for themselves and recommend it to their clients. With half of all businesses impacted by cyber incidents, the risk can no longer be ignored. IIAT hopes that all members take advantage of this cutting-edge product to better protect clients and themselves.

Learn More.

With Cyber-Crime Growing at an Exponential Rate, Offer Protection All Businesses Need.

“In a matter of minutes, after answering only a handful of simple questions, you have a cyber liability quote ready to present and bind. The system’s intuitive and user-friendly design, paired with a cutting-edge cyber product and superior service, has made Wingman my preferred cyber liability solution.”  -Randy Daniels, CIC, Vice President of Products & Services, USI Insurance Services

One of the easiest to use raters I’ve seen with any carrier. Very intuitive and incredibly quick to produce a quote. [Plus] the live chat function is extremely quick to respond if you do have any questions.” -Chris Ganz, Senior Program
Underwriter, Tangram Insurance Services


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Join NCCI for a Free Agent Education Workshop

NCCI invites licensed agents to earn three continuing education credits by attending a free Agent Education Workshop. Get an overview of workers compensation trends, learn how to classify and use the appropriate resources, and gain an understanding of the experience rating process.

What You’ll Learn: Practical day-to-day information to assist you in classifying and estimating a business.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018 |8:30 a.m. to noon 
Dallas/Addison Marriott Quorum by the Galleria
Check-in and continental breakfast will be available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:30 a.m.

  • Texas Workers Compensation Economic Overview and Workers Compensation Trends—Get the lay of the workers comp landscape in Texas, including the role of a rating organization, the workers compensation market, and changes in the job market that affect insurers.
  • How to Classify and Use the Appropriate Resources—Make sure that appropriate premium is being charged for workers compensation coverage. You’ll learn about the classification process, workers compensation rules, how to submit a residual market application, and premium pricing programs that can assist you.
  • Experience Modifications: Understanding, Managing, and Other Helpful Information—Explore the role of experience rating, associated rules for modifying premium, the impact of frequency versus severity, and more.

Register Now

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Mexico Auto Coverage: ‘Tis the Season!

The Mexico Tourism Department estimates that 26 million autos enter Mexico from the U.S. annually. And more than 80% of Mexican auto insurance policies are sold in the last quarter of the year! You could say this is the season to head to Mexico.

Travelers heading south this are going for the weather, for vacation, to visit family, and to enjoy the holidays! Halloween and Dia de Los Muertos brings a large crowd home. Then Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. Whether your clients are avoiding the snow, or going to see family, the holidays are well spent in Mexico.

Make sure your client is properly insured while traveling. Since their U.S. Insurance policy is not accepted by Mexico Insurance Law, they will need a separate Mexican Tourist Auto policy while they are there. IIAT only partners with the best of the best, IIG. By providing only “A” rated Mexican underwriters, your client will not only be legal according to Mexico law, but insured by a quality financial stable trusted insurance company while traveling. Liability insurance is required, with options to additional coverage like collision and theft. Legal assistance and roadside assistance is included in ALL policies.

Our easy online system is quick and easy to use. Your client can purchase online, or with you directly! We provide you, the agent, a custom direct-to-client link that you are able to post on your website or social media. It is a consumer-friendly way for them to self-issue at home or after hours, while you still make commissions! And of course, if a customer wants to purchase with you, in-office or over the phone, just log in and start up a quote! It begins with asking for basic vehicle and travel info. Terms available as short as a day, as long as a year! If they are ready to purchase, just take payment and print out their proof of insurance. Or if they prefer to wait and purchase later, you can email them the quote to finish up online at their own convenience. Quote, compare, buy online; allowing your customer get proper proof of insurance and hit the road in just minutes!

If you have issued Mexico policies with IIAT in the past, just log in, and your client’s vehicle information is saved and ready to go. Merely plug in the new travel dates and take payment. If you are unsure of your login credentials, or this is your first time, not a problem. Contact Polly Middlebrook or start by filling out the Mexico Producer Application here !

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Joe Vincent Management Seminar Preview: Why Isn’t Every Service Call a Sales Opportunity?

Trick question!  Every service call is a sales opportunity! It’s just a matter of whether or not you are taking advantage of the opportunity.  Without getting into a whole sales theology debate, it should be pointed out that basic sales strategies have changed in the last 30 (even 10 years).  Gone are the days of “getting them to sign on the line which is dotted!”.  The terms advisory sales and consultative sales are the terms we use now.  But at the end of the day there simply has been a shift in the approach from doing whatever it took to get the sale towards a more honest approach of explaining to the customer what they need and reaping the benefits of providing the product or service that they need.

We used to have a clear divide in how we would approach servicing versus selling.  Servicing was simply providing the client what they asked for. You want to add a new vehicle?  Sure, no problem. I’ll add that without even discussing that you still only have 20/40 limits. Selling was the opposite.  It didn’t matter what product you sold or who was the best fit, you tried to sell the product. I literally walked off the job after a meeting with a 92-year-old woman where my “mentor’ was showing me how to sell her long-term care insurance.

My mission in life is to see the titles, account manager or advisor and salesperson or producer, all come to mean the same thing in the eyes of the public (at least in our industry).  I want us to move away from the hard sale as salespeople but recognize that selling a client something they need is not a bad thing. I don’t want to ever hear the words “I’m not a salesperson” ever again!

A good account manager is always going to talk about increasing limits or why writing all lines of business under one roof make sense.  Is that not selling? Isn’t that exactly what we teach and train our producers and salespeople to do on a regular basis?

My definition of Good Service is “giving people what they need, not what they ask for”.  You cannot provide Good Service without a selling component. When I hear people tell me that they are not salespeople, it’s either an excuse to reduce the effort they have to put into anything or there is a misunderstanding of the role of an Account Manager.

Once we recognize that selling a product to someone that needs it is Good Service, and that sales is not a four letter word (unlike “busy”!), we need to determine the approach to build the skill set and to determine how to make selling more comfortable.   A good sales training program can not only provide the skills necessary to be able to talk with prospects and clients about new business, increased limits, additional endorsements, and account rounding policies, but will help the account managers realize that this is part of their job and is in the client’s best interest!

About the Author

Kelly Donahue-Piro is the founder and president of Agency Performance Partners. She iskelly-donahue-tmb-small a no-nonsense effectiveness expert who has helped hundreds of insurance agencies identify and capitalize on sustainable improvement opportunities. Over the past several years, Kelly has worked with small businesses across the country to build and implement successful programs to boost revenues, profits and efficiency. In 2014, she created Agency Performance Partners with a mission to “partner with insurance entrepreneurs who dream to take their business to the next level – and beyond – by relentlessly pursuing excellence in world-class service and sales strategies.”
More info

See Kelly at the Joe Vincent Management Seminar. 
Get more details and register.

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Get Your Copy of the 2018 Future One Agency Universe Study

The findings of the 2018 Future One Agency Universe Study were released this week, and the state of the independent agency system remains strong and healthy!

The number of independent agencies in the U.S. stands at 36,500—a slight decline since 2016 which is likely attributable to a robust mergers & acquisitions landscape and the use of a more accurate resource to validate the data for 2018.

Overall, 76% of agencies reported increases in total revenues with an average increase of 25%. The 2018 results suggest that agencies are embracing social media and digital marketing strategies, but still consider phone calls and client visits a vital part of their commitment to customer service.

When it comes to what agencies are most concerned about, their top challenge is finding and retaining qualified staff, followed closely by finding ways to grow their commercial lines book of business.

One-third of agencies are concerned about consumers using direct purchase options for personal lines, while a quarter are concerned about the emergence of online commercial lines purchase options.

Paperless offices increased in both personal and commercial lines agencies by nearly 15%, as did use of texting with clients and agency e-signature initiatives, which both increased by nearly 10%.

The lack of diversity in independent agencies continues in 2018, with ongoing underrepresentation of women and people of color in agency principal positions. However, newer agencies saw an increase in African-American ownership, up nearly 10% since 2016.

The 2018 Future One Agency Universe Study is available for p​urchase in both a summary and full report format. Contact IIABA’s Madelyn Flannagan, vice president of agent development, research and education, with any questions.

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