Category Archives: insurance network group

Prepare to be “Underwritten”

I recently had a very interesting conversation with Shane Tatum, the President  & CEO of Integra Insurance Services, an organization in Texas which provides agency network affiliation for qualified agents and agencies.

While Shane was explaining the Integra prospecting approaches and overall philosophy for determining the quality and experience of agents and agencies that his organization seeks as possible members, he said something that I had not heard before.   He stated that they carefully “underwrite” each prospective member before considering them for inclusion into one the two key Integra membership programs.

Action words like ‘vetting’, ‘analyzing’, ‘evaluating’, etc.  are most frequently heard in conversations of this nature.  However, after hearing Shane describe the Integra “underwriting” approach, I do believe it is most descriptive of the actual process that needs to take place in order for an agency network organization to make the best educated decision as to who should be a member of a network group.

It is well known that traditional insurance underwriting requires knowledge of as much about the proposed insured as possible and the risks to which they may become exposed.  This information is needed to make an informed decision as to whether the company wants to provide insurance coverage.   Similarly, an agency network should want to know as much as possible about each prospective member.   Most do but some are more about quantity than quality.  Those that underwrite their prospects are models for the others.  As an agent or agency seeking an agency network group to join, look for the groups that make you feel as though you are being subjected to an underwriting process.   It will be to your advantage, in the long-run.

A written marketing that is well-developed will prepare you to be effectively underwritten.

Sale of Your Agency – Examples

Before you join a premium aggregator or agency network group, one of the key questions to ask is:  “What would happen if and when I decide to sell my agency to an agency that is not a member of your network?”   Make sure that you get a very logical and understandable answer, in writing of course.

It is also a good idea to make up a few sample scenarios and present them to the network representative, asking for clear answers to cover each situation.  Again, get the answers “in writing”, email or whatever covers it for you.  Think of a few agency sales or mergers in the area, of which you have some basic knowledge.  Use them as your examples to present to the representatives.


Decision Making the ‘Ben Franklin Way’

Most people know that Benjamin Franklin was a really interesting & creative man who contributed greatly to the development of many useful things in both society and industry.

In 1772, he introduced what was considered to be the first ‘decision balance sheet’.  Many of us use it today.  I call it my ‘pros & cons’ list.  It is a simple exercise that can serve us well in many aspects of life, not just in business decision making.

In its most simple form, take a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle, listing ‘Pros’ on one side of the line and “Cons’ on the other.  Apply this process when you are trying to decide the best option between two choices.

In a business example for an insurance agency principal:  “Should I join the ‘Smith Premium Aggregator Group’ or The ‘Jones Premium Aggregator Group’?

Do a separate sheet on both groups.  List the pros and cons of each, as Ben’s decision making tool indicates.  After the pros and cons of both are listed, weight each one in terms of level of importance to you.  (I use a 1-5 rating scale, with 1 being the least important to me.  However, you can also use 1-3 or whatever scale you choose to apply.)  Add them up and while it isn’t a perfect system, if you do it carefully enough, it should give you a pretty good idea of which insurance network group you should consider joining, based on the values of each of their respective programs’ characteristics, as they relate to your agency.

It will also help you identify issues that may not be clear to you and require that you ask additional questions of the insurance network group representatives, so that you are clear on everything.

Obviously this simple approach can be used to make decisions of all types, both personal and business related.

Thanks, Ben!