For the past four years, the Agent for the Future Awards have recognized the most forward-looking and digitally savvy independent agencies.
This year’s Awards featured new categories dedicated to celebrating agencies and individuals that are working to build a stronger, more innovative and inclusive independent agency system.
This year’s group of winners are driving digital innovations, investing in their communities, finding better ways to serve their customers and more.
Here are the 2021 Agent for the Future Award winners:
Outstanding Agency Overall: The J. Morey Company
The J. Morey Company’s success comes from a mix of innovation and tradition.
For example, the company created its own insurtech platform to help leverage agency data into actionable insights. As they have acquired other agencies in their area, they have integrated updated technology to help them stay relevant.
However, as a second-generation agency well-established in the Japanese American community in Southern California, the agency is dedicated to honoring their history and values. They’re also committed to continuing the legacies of the agencies they have acquired, many of which are minority owned and have deep cultural roots in minority communities.
With the help of agency acquisitions and new technology, The J. Morey Company has tripled in size over the last year since Joshua Morey purchased the agency from his father and uncles.
Click here to read more about The J. Morey Company in this month’s edition of Rough Notes.
If you want to become an Agent for the Future, you need to be flexible to change but deeply rooted in values.
Adapting to the changing digital environment of insurance is critical to the future of the company but more importantly, the Agent of the Future needs to remember the past.
Outstanding Large Agency: Weaver & Associates
Third-generation agency principal, Dana Dattola, has worked hard to make sure Weaver & Associates fully embraces technology that will help the agency perpetuate into the next generation.
Among the changes were automated follow-ups, fully digital applications, reviews and renewals. Agency leaders realized that their best personal lines prospects where people who worked with financial advisors, so they created an online form that made it easy for financial advisors to present coverage reviews to clients.
During the pandemic, Weaver converted an empty office into a video production studio and started filming videos answering common insurance questions, which they included in email campaigns.
The hardest part of becoming an Agent for the Future is taking the first step in bettering yourself or your agency.
It can feel overwhelming when you think about all that needs to be done, but don’t let that delay you from taking that first step.
Outstanding Small Agency: Granger Financial
Granger Financial focuses on impact and believes in the power of service.
During the pandemic, the agency pivoted to creating digital content, starting a weekly video series on Facebook to provide education on insurance and finance.
Granger is also highly involved in their local community. In 2020, they created a peace walk and rally in honor of Breonna Taylor. It has since become an annual event that now annually honors 4 minority female scholarship recipients: with awards totaling over $50,000 in just two years.
In the words of my friend NFL player Antione Bethea, "Always bet on yourself."
Be innovative in your approach knowing there’s space for you and what you will bring to the industry. And remember to keep the client in the center of what you do!
Digital Innovator: Mylo
An insurtech innovator backed by insurance brokerage Lockton, Mylo brings together insurance knowledge and tech expertise into a one-stop-shop insurance platform for consumers. Their AI-powered technology recommends ideal coverages and provides quotes from carriers. Customers can shop digitally or connect with an agent.
Innovators seeking to revolutionize insurance for today’s shoppers need to offer an ideal balance between technology and human expertise –
empowering customers to transact entirely digitally when they want to but also have convenient access to specialized guidance on important life decisions from tech-equipped human experts. An ideal platform will combine hassle-free digital shopping for a wide range of personalized products with licensed advisors who have deep insurance expertise.
Outstanding Female Principal: Kristin Garlow, Mountain State Agency Alliance
Kristin started her insurance career in 1998 as an intern at an insurance agency in West Virginia. She went on to work full-time as a P&C producer while taking evening classes to put herself through college. When she started at MSAA, a regional company of SIAA, she and her mentor created a strategy for Kristin to eventually own the business.
Now, Kristin and her team effectively manage over $70 million dollars in premium and just over 80 agency locations. She utilizes many virtual and digital programs to allow herself and employees the flexibility to be able to be leaders at home and at work. In 2020, Kristin was elected the President of the Safeco Insurance National Agent Advisory Council.
Agents of the Future will always be those who believe in themselves!
Never be afraid to ask for what you want and work tirelessly on the goals that matter in your life.
Emerging Leader: James Castell, Castell Insurance
A second-generation agency owner, James Castell has helped take Castell Insurance from a brick and mortar, 100% paper-based agency to a versatile, digital-first agency.
The agency now integrates text messaging, e-signature, video proposals, youtube Q&A, live medicare and health webinars via zoom, community-driven Facebook content and more.
James is also dedicated to sharing his expertise in video content and digital marketing with other independent agents, helping them create strategic plans to enhance their digital presence and interaction with clients.
You have to start somewhere.
As much as we’ve heard all the cliché of “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” it’s totally true. Online presence, digital marketing, digital tools to enhance the customer experience all take time. But you do have to start. If you pause too long for fear of the long distance race, you cannot ever finish. Just start!
Congratulations to all the 2021 Agent for the Future Award winners!
- Outstanding Agency Overall: The J. Morey Company
- Outstanding Large Agency: Weaver & Associates
- Outstanding Small Agency: Granger Financial
- Digital Innovator: Mylo
- Outstanding Female Principal: Kristin Garlow, Mountain State Agency Alliance
- Emerging Leader: James Castell, Castell Insurance