Kansas City’s largest credit union sought to provide its 240,000 members with what it calls “financial peace of mind,” from birth to retirement and beyond. An insurance agency was in order. In 2017, CommunityAmerica enlisted Kansas City native Scott Strickland—who came with a decade’s experience installing insurance agencies into banks and credit unions—to start a firm for the membership. It’s owned by the credit union service organization, CommunityAmerica CUSO One, which, in turn, is owned by the credit union.
The agency’s four producers generate $3.3 million in annual premiums, but to date have tapped only 1% of the membership. Growth potential is enormous. At 94%, personal lines dominate the business mix. Life insurance accounts for 5% and commercial lines compose 1% of business; both are targets for expansion.
Scott Strickland, President
I always say we’re a really small agency in a great big credit union. Members see their credit union as a natural place to seek insurance. They say, “I know these folks. I trust them. I’ll ask them for help.” We’ve assembled a team of highly skilled, compassionate agents who are member-driven. We sell only what members need. They’re folks like us and represent a balanced cross-section of the community. Many are business owners, so we offer commercial policies for small to mid-sized businesses. We want to be the trusted solution for every member with an insurance need.
We spend significant time cultivating visibility within our membership. We use social media. We are featured in the credit union newsletter. We volunteer in our community with projects and organizations that are in line with our objective to be a green agency, like the Ranchland Trust of Kansas, Heartland Tree Alliance and Cultivate KC.
Amanda Pratt, Insurance Agent
As our first agent, I sold Scott the first policy so we could check for leaks or problems. We focused on property and casualty exclusively that first year. Our leading priority is our members’ financial well-being. In some cases, we’re not the best insurance option for a member and are up front about that. We even develop relationships with other local agencies and brokers so when the situation warrants it, we can make an introduction to our competitors. We have the latitude to serve consumers outside the credit union, but most of our nonmember clients are relatives of members who recommended us. We are here to serve the member.
Our office sits within the credit union’s corporate office, but we meet members wherever they prefer, whether a branch or a coffee shop.
Joe Yates, Insurance Agent, Life Specialist
I joined the team in the summer of 2018 because our members expressed a need for life insurance. We resist any temptation to focus on the large package policies or those big single premium life cases. We have the tools and resources to address those, but we're just as energized to write the $100,000 of term insurance for a family starting out or someone’s first insurance policy on their very first vehicle. We stay true to our roots and work to be part of our members’ futures.
I am one of several who joined this firm from the captive side of the business, so it has been invigorating to be able to shop among carriers to find the best fit and value for our members.