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A Message From PIA's President

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Richie Clements Presidents Message PicApril 2015

WE'VE HEARD A LOT OF TALK RECENTLY about some new competition that independent agents will be getting from direct writers.

The threat from Google is serious. But we need to keep something in mind.

For many decades, the so-called "experts" and "industry pundits" have predicted the demise of the independent insurance agent. They keep trying to plan our funeral. But there's just one problem: We keep refusing to get in the casket!

Why do professional Insurance Agents continue to thrive? There are many reasons. We are adaptable. We are always learning. We are fiercely competitive. We don't run from change, we embrace it. We provide what customers continue to value.

But perhaps the most important reason we will continue to succeed can be summed up in one word. That word is "local."

Google will never be able to be local. Google is the exact opposite of local.

Independent insurance agents personify local

Local, Professional Insurance Agents—you and me—are members of our communities. We are in the schools, in the churches, at the ballpark, at the dance review, at the fire station, anywhere you look in town we are there. We are the neighbors of the clients who turn to us to protect what they have.

In the next few months, PIA's agency-company council, The PIA Partnership, will be out with its latest research project, "Voice of the Customer - Commercial Lines."

To get a handle on the new challenges agents face, we decided to speak directly with commercial lines customers. We did a series of focus groups and surveys across the country. The results will be provocative. Here's a preview:

  • Commercial lines customers value what agents bring to the process. Many prefer dealing with agents, for many reasons. But here's a downside we found:
    • Some commercial lines customers might be open to buying on the Internet at some point in the future.


The current Partnership project will lay out many of the obstacles agents will encounter in the ongoing evolution of commercial lines sales, based on the significant research we conducted.

The results will also show the great opportunity that exists for agents to increase their role in commercial lines sales and protect their future, based directly on feedback from commercial lines customers. So PIA will be coming out with a wake-up call, along with a roadmap and tools agents can use to meet the new challenge. Stay tuned.

"A man is called selfish no for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor's." –Richard Whately

Richard A. Clements
President