Ohio Insurance Agents Association establishes data analytics company

GAHANNA, OH – Ohio Insurance Agents Association, Inc. (OIA) creates IntellAgents, LLC, a first-of-its-kind, analytics-driven organization that specializes in actionable insights for independent agents.

IntellAgents, LLC was formed to help independent agents across the country leverage big data in order to make better business decisions for their agencies. Through partnerships with other state-based independent agents’ associations, IntellAgents will have access to thousands of isolated data points across independent insurance agencies and be able to turn them into business intelligence.

"The independent agency system has been overlooked and underutilized in a world driven by data analytics. That ends today. Through this collaborative effort, independent agents will have access to advanced data analytics resources and business intelligence to propel their businesses into the future," states Jeff Smith, CEO of OIA. "Ultimately, these efforts will allow independent agents nationwide to improve the experience and guidance they provide to consumers."

"We have built the largest warehouse of independent agent data in the country to help agents grow, make informed business decisions and compete in the ever-changing insurance marketplace. The benchmarks and insights that we can provide to agents are more relevant than the national benchmarks that are available today. Utilizing the data in a specific marketplace is much more meaningful to our agents and will allow them to make informed business decisions about the growth and future of their agencies," states Carey Wallace, CEO of IntellAgents.

To date, Ohio Insurance Agents Association is joined by six additional investors, including the Florida Association of Insurance Agents, Independent Insurance Agents of Illinois, Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents, Michigan Association of Insurance Agents, Insurance Agents & Brokers of Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, and Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, to lead the effort in bringing data analytics insights to independent agents.

IntellAgents products and services will be in the investor states, as well as several other “subscriber” states, in 2019. Availability will continue to expand rapidly throughout 2020.   

"We are excited to partner with our colleagues on this initiative that will provide our members the data-driven strategic insights they need to excel in today’s increasingly competitive environment," said Nicholas A. Fyntrilakis, President and CEO of the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents. "As an association, we need to evolve and ensure we are providing value to our agents, and IntellAgents is key to that evolution."

"Bringing together agent-led organizations who all share the same mission, to help independent insurance agents grow and prosper, ensures that our agents’ success is always the focus of IntellAgents. Our state association organizations are perfectly positioned to maintain the trust and loyalty of thousands of independent insurance agents across the country. It is a natural fit with our collective mission to leverage independent agents’ data to provide meaningful insights and offer business consulting services to put those insights to use in agencies across the country," said Carey Wallace. 

"The insurance industry has long relied on data to both improve and be more efficient. Unfortunately, independent insurance agents haven’t had the resources to do the same," said Jason Ernest, President and CEO of Pennsylvania-based Insurance Agents & Brokers.

"That changes today. Through IntellAgents, we will be providing agents the data points they need to compete better. We are very excited about this partnership."


About IntellAgents, LLC

IntellAgents, LLC is a first-of-its-kind, analytics-driven organization that specializes in actionable insights for independent agents. Founded in 2018 by Ohio Insurance Agents Association, it is the fastest-growing independent insurance data warehouse in the country. IntellAgents products and services are available in Ohio, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania. Availability in other states will continue to expand throughout 2019.

About Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,300 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. OIA helps agents by providing agency valuation, succession planning, generational health, operational benchmarking reports, other business solutions and industry thought leadership.


In Reversal, Flood Insurance Program Resumes Normal Operations During Shutdown

Last Friday evening, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) will resume the normal sale of new insurance policies and the renewal of expiring policies.

This order rescinded an earlier decision that halted sales operations by the NFIP because of the current government shutdown and lapse in appropriations.

The reversal came after banking, insurance and political leaders from both parties criticized the halting of sales of new and renewal flood policies. Critics said that FEMA was ignoring the intent of Congress to keep the NFIP operating during a shutdown expressed when on Dec. 21, 2018, it passed legislation that reauthorized the NFIP until May 31, 2019.

Insurance, Banking Groups Balk at Limits on Flood Insurance Operations During Shutdown

Critics also argued that any disruption in sales of flood insurance could hold up real estate closings. “FEMA’s unexpected decision will complicate and delay loan closings for borrowers who are required to carry flood insurance and seek NFIP coverage for as long as the government shutdown continues,” the American Banking Association (ABA) said in a statement earlier yesterday.

FEMA said all NFIP insurers have been directed to resume normal operations immediately and advised that the program will be considered operational since Dec. 21, 2018 without interruption.

Sen. John Kennedy, R- La., a sponsor of the NFIP reauthorization bill, was among the lawmakers trying to get FEMA to restart normal operations.

“It’s taken a lot of phone calls to Washington, D.C., but FEMA finally came around to what I recognized from the beginning. My reauthorization legislation, which was signed by President Trump into law, prevents any disruption to the National Flood Insurance Program,” said Sen. Kennedy.

Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., ranking member of the House Committee on Financial Services, was among those who also urged FEMA to reconsider what she called its “harmful and incorrect interpretation of its authority” and resume its “important work of providing flood insurance.”

This article was originally published by Insurance Journal on December 28, 2018.

Stay up to date on all Advocacy National Issues by visiting our website. 

Learn more


OIA Welcomes Ashley Fitzsimmons to Customer Experience Role

GAHANNA, OH - Ohio Insurance Agents Association is excited to announce that Ashley Fitzsimmons has joined the association as their Customer Experience Manager.

Growing OIA’s vision to be a “change agent for agent change,” Fitzsimmons has a goal to lead the association’s initiatives to build and develop networks among agents, specifically the OIA’s new Peer Exchange Groups.

“Ashley is a connector. She has an energy and aura about her that will bring agencies together in our peer exchange groups to help them grow and improve their performance,” says OIA CEO Jeff Smith, JD, CIC, CAE.

“It truly takes a special breed to be an independent agent. Independent Agents are superheroes. They protect. They save. Look no further than the many natural disasters we are experiencing across this country and you see how independent agents help put people’s lives back together” Fitzsimmons says.  

”Having been an independent agent for nine years, I have a deep understanding for the speed bumps and roadblocks they can typically run into. I’d like to think there is no such thing as a problem, only an opportunity. And I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with independent agents in Ohio and help them strengthen their superhero powers and tear down those roadblocks.”

Fitzsimmons shares OIA’s passion and vision for independent agents and the IA system. Her experience working as a Producer with Fitzsimmons Insurance, a small independent insurance agency in Forest City, Pennsylvania, will equip her with the background and knowledge to make a big impact on the broader IA system. In her role with the agency, she implemented many technology features to modernize the customer experience and create relationships with other Next Generation agency leaders.

“One of the biggest things I’m hoping to accomplish with OIA is attracting new talent into the industry. Insurance is affectionately referred to as pale, male and stale. That changes now” Fitzsimmons says. “With the help of the OIA team, I know we can change this stereotype and show younger generations why insurance is the place to be and how you can make a difference in people’s lives in this profession. I’m looking forward to integrating into an incredible team that is changing this amazing industry for the better one day at a time.”

Fitzsimmons will join the OIA team at the beginning of 2019.


About Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,300 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. OIA helps agents grow their agencies and improve their performance by providing agency valuation, succession planning, generational health, operational benchmarking reports, peer exchange groups, other business solutions and industry thought leadership.


Berkshire Hathaway GUARD now writing personal lines in Ohio

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies logoBerkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies has begun offering homeowners and complementary personal umbrella coverage in Ohio.

According to GUARD CEO Sy Foguel, “We have always relied upon independent agents to deliver our policies to consumers, so our goal is to feature products that fill a need within their offices. We believe our homeowners coverage, which provides the same high level of security and service currently enjoyed by our commercial customers, will do just that.”

Senior Vice President of Personal Lines Dovid Tkatch explains that this new initiative has been designed to reflect a few core principles of the company by “providing a quality, easily understood product on a simple platform as well as a high level of service to both agents and policyholders.”

Targeted markets include one- to four-family dwellings, renters, and condo units (both owner-occupied and those held for rental).

“In addition to standard exposures,” Tkatch adds, “Berkshire Hathaway GUARD aims to provide a bridge between certain business and personal insurance needs by considering Homeowners coverage for residences owned by corporations and LLCs; dwellings held for rent; and residences where incidental business activities occur.”

GUARD’s Senior Vice President of Sales Dave Simmons says, “We believe we can provide a great service to agents that write both commercial and personal accounts. We feature a competitively priced product with a variety of available discounts, including one for insureds who have commercial policies with GUARD. We also believe certain aspects of our underwriting appetite are unique and will appeal to producers anxious to cross sell and achieve a greater client share.”

GUARD’s product is generally aimed at dwellings valued at $75,000 to $2,000,000.

By mixing and matching policy forms, endorsements, and optional coverages aimed at broader protection, each policyholder can obtain property insurance suited to his or her exact circumstances.

A personal umbrella with limits up to $5,000,000 can also be added.

According to Tkatch, “We’ve already introduced these personal lines coverages in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Illinois and have been pleased with the response. In 2018, we hope to expand into a few other states as the year progresses.”

As a national carrier, long-range plans call for offering the product countrywide he said.

In October of 2012, GUARD was acquired by Berkshire Hathaway Inc. – an international holding company with diverse interests that include insurance and reinsurance. In 2013, GUARD unveiled a new identity as Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies. 

GUARD offers a national footprint with a growing list of insurance products, including: workers’ compensation, property/liability via a businessowner’s policy, commercial auto, commercial umbrella, professional liability, disability, homeowners, and personal umbrella.

Each of the organization’s insurance companies (AmGUARD, EastGUARD, NorGUARD, and WestGUARD) is rated A+ (“Superior”) by A.M. Best – a leading source of independent rating information on the insurance industry.

Agents interested in learning more should visit guard.com/apply.


OIA Welcomes Craig Niess to Agency Valuation Role

GAHANNA, OH - Ohio Insurance Agents Association is excited to announce that Craig Niess has joined the association as Business Planning and Valuation Manager.

Craig Niess headshotGrowing OIA’s vision to be a “change agent for agent change,” Niess will lead the association’s initiatives to build and develop business solutions in the areas of agency valuation, succession planning and business planning. As an expert advisor, he will help independent agents set up a plan for long-term success.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to develop and manage the consulting practice within OIA and bring much needed services and solutions to Ohio’s independent agencies,” Niess says. “In 2018, we want to offer high-quality business consulting to as many agencies as possible.”

Niess shares OIA’s passion for independent agents and the IA channel. He has more than seven years of financial and operational consulting experience with independent agents through his tenure at Marsh, Berry & Company. In this role, he launched new products, provided customized consulting services, developed and implemented business plans, and created financial models.

“Independent agents are pillars of the communities they serve,” Niess says. “We want to empower them so they continue to thrive in an ever-changing insurance landscape.  We want to help these agencies and provide them with solutions that will keep them viable for generations to come.”

Recently, Niess also worked for a startup in Cleveland and brings his entrepreneurial spirit cultivated from that experience to his new role at OIA. He holds an MBA from the University of Iowa and a Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University.


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,300 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. OIA helps agents by providing agency valuation, succession planning, generational health, operational benchmarking reports, other business solutions and industry thought leadership.

  < 1 2 3 4  >