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Industry Launches Personal Lines Initiative

Industry Launches Personal Lines Initiative

Unique, Online Alliance Will Shine Bright Light
On Independent Agency Channel Opportunity to Grow Share

SPRINGFIELD, VA (February 9, 2010)—Encouraging independent agency owners to take a fresh look at the opportunity presented by personal lines of insurance, a powerful and motivated coalition within the Independent Agency System today announced the launch of the Personal Lines Growth Alliance (PLGA).

The PLGA (www.personallinesgrowth.org) will bring a unique focus to personal lines in the distribution channel by showing independent agents and brokers the potential for growth, sharing knowledge and resources, and positioning them with their consumers. The Alliance consists of a growing cadre of agents, carriers, service providers and trade associations.

“Personal lines represents much more opportunity than a simple ‘accommodation sale’—and it’s time for more independent agency owners to get excited about it,” says PLGA Chair Steve Brooks, CIC, CPIA, president of Steve Brooks Insurance Services, based in Westlake Village, Calif., a leading independent agency in personal lines.

“While it gets more attention, the commercial piece is not the sole driver of growth, stability and profitability for independent agencies,” Brooks says. “In fact, the personal lines opportunities for our distribution channel are unprecedented. Today’s agents and brokers can offer consumers strong carrier markets, fast service with real-time technology, choice of products and pricing, and overall superior value.”

The personal lines segment is ripe for market share growth by the IA channel, Brooks says. While independent agents and their carriers command 80% of all commercial lines, they only write 34% of personal lines. Moreover, commercial lines is mired in a prolonged soft market, and recent economic worries have put downward pressure on premiums, with reduced payrolls, inventories, auto fleets and other soft conditions. Meanwhile, private-passenger auto, homeowners, umbrellas and related lines offer a tremendous growth potential.

The Alliance will leverage social networking and a Web site platform to:

  • Convince independent agency owners of the value and stability of personal lines insurance products in today’s market, and show how they contrast with the commercial lines activities on which most agents rely for their main revenue stream
  • Provide agents with insight to the wide choice of personal lines marketing and sales strategies, as well as strategies to enhance customer relations
  • Educate agents on the efficiencies of today’s personal lines processing and workflows.

Brooks says the technology piece should be a particular driver of change for the mindset of many independent agency owners. “Agency leaders 30 years ago began calling for more efficiency within the personal lines universe,” he points out. “They said inefficiency was the source of the high expense ratios that prevented independent agencies from successfully competing with direct and captive writers. The playing field has now been leveled, and it’s time for our side of the industry to capitalize on our opportunity.”

Brooks says the Alliance will operate as a virtual association, leveraging the strong resources and educational material already available by its partners. “We won’t compete with other associations or reinvent the wheel,” Brooks says, “although we do intend to move the wheel forward. The Alliance will be a leverage point to highlight personal lines-focused growth tools available to agents from carriers, associations and education organizations.”

Membership in the Alliance initially is free and open to interested parties.

For detail about the Alliance’s stated need for a new approach to personal lines, see a PLGA report at http://personallinesgrowth.org/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/PLG-Alliance-February-2010.pdf.

About the Personal Lines Growth Alliance

Launched in February 2010, the Personal Lines Growth Alliance (www.personallinesgrowth.org) is a virtual association dedicated to improving the competitiveness of the independent agency distribution channel. The Alliance is supported by independent agents, trade associations, carriers and technology providers.

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