Now in its third year, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance’s Agent for the Future Award celebrates the most forward-looking, digitally savvy independent insurance agencies.
This year’s award winners have cultivated new capabilities, accelerated their digital presence and pivoted to find new ways to attract and retain customers – all during a uniquely challenging year.
The award applications highlighted five ways top insurance agencies are evolving to meet rapid changes in the channel:
Digital was essential well before the pandemic hit
When COVID-19 hit, Agent for the Future Award winners already had many of the digital tools in place and were able to continue doing business without much interruption. Many of the agencies were able to continue to grow at a fast pace even in the challenging marketplace.
Remote work brings opportunities
A few of the top agencies were already fully digital and offered flexible working arrangements prior to COVID-19. But even those who had a more traditional office setup say they plan to adopt a hybrid approach to work moving forward. Some said they will decrease the size of their physical office space, saving money to invest elsewhere in the business. Others said embracing remote work allowed them to hire new team members outside of their geographic area.
Digital marketing is increasingly important
Winning agencies used lockdowns as opportunities to double down on their digital marketing efforts. Many launched new programs or branched out into new marketing platforms – such as revamping their agency’s website for search engine optimization, building up a library of educational videos, or launching targeted digital advertising through Google ads or social media.
Communication and service through any (and every) channel
Winning agents know that consumer expectations are rapidly changing. They work hard to communicate with clients via multiple channels and let clients do service via their preferred channels – whether through text, automated emails, self service portals, social media, or more.
Top agencies are always seeking to grow and innovate. They view digital adoption as a journey, not a destination.
The 2020 Agent for the Future Award winners exemplify the trailblazing, innovative spirit that drives the independent agent channel forward.
This year, we awarded one national winner along with eight regional winners, and we also introduced a new Emerging Leader category, designed to celebrate an agency that took an unconventional path to building and growing their business and is early in their journey to becoming an Agent for the Future.
The 2020 Agent for the Future Award winners are as follows:
National Winner: RiskSOURCE Clark-Theders
A data-driven, digitally savvy agency that is using technology to streamline their internal processes, RiskSOURCE Clark-Theders embodies the Agent for the Future spirit in so many ways.
RiskSOURCE works hard to foster a workplace culture that empowers their team to serve as trusted advisors to every client. This year, that trusted advisor piece included sharing educational resources and webinars with customers – covering topics such as working from home, cyber security, contingency planning and returning to work safely.
The team at RiskSOURCE was evolving their digital capabilities for employees and customers well before COVID-19 hit, and they have used this year to evolve even more and rethink how the agency will operate in the future. They integrate technology into every aspect of their work, using tech tools to expand their reach, deepen relationships with clients and extend staff capacity.
RiskSOURCE stands out as an inspiring agency that is finding creative ways to grow, build excellent experiences and drive the entire independent agent channel forward.
Emerging leader: Majdas Touch Insurance
When Majda Baltic launched her independent agency just over two years ago, she decided to take a different approach from the traditional captive agency she’d previously worked for.
From the beginning, Majdas Touch Insurance operated as a fully virtual, remote agency. They are also a paperless agency – the team uses e-signature for paperwork, and they teach clients to take a screen capture of their ID cards instead of hassling them to print them out.
Baltic, a refugee from Bosnia & Herzegovina, was just 28 when she started the agency. Her agency now writes business across 25 states. This year alone, they hired four new team members and tripled in size.
An unconventional agency with a big vision for the future, Majdas Touch shows what’s possible when agents think outside the box.
These agencies stood out as leaders in each of our eight regions across the country.
Northwest Region: Castell Insurance
Pacific Region: Alta Vista Insurance Agency
Midwest Region: Compass Insurance Agency
Mountain Region: Advantage Insurance Solutions
Central Region: Goosehead Insurance
Northeast Region: DealerPolicy
MidAtlantic Region: Sahouri Insurance & Financial
Southeast Region: Harris Insurance
“This group includes some of the most innovative agencies in the entire independent agent channel,” says Tyler Asher, president of independent agency distribution for Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance. “While they are all unique – each with their own distinct value proposition, customer focus and company culture – what they have most in common is in just how prepared they were to tackle the challenges of 2020 head on.
“They quickly adapted to the changing market conditions brought about by the pandemic, fully embraced digital to ensure the customer experienced remained strong, and continued to cultivate great corporate cultures to keep their teams engaged.”
Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all that applied this year. And a special thanks to our judges: Claudia McClain, founder of McClain Insurance Services (winner of a 2019 Regional AFTF Award); Dave Willis, editor-in-chief of Rough Notes magazine; and Tyler Asher, president of independent agent distribution at Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance.
We will be interviewing the winners throughout 2021, so sign up for the Agent for the Future email list below to learn more about the strategies winning agents used.