"Personal lines insurance is a fundamental part of modern life and is vital in safeguarding individuals, families, property and their wellbeing," says independent agent John Deichl. "It is complex, ever-changing, technology-driven and way more interesting than most people know."
Executive Vice President
How did you get started at your agency?
Scott Stephen, chief growth officer, Guaranteed Rate Insurance (GR Insurance), hired me in 2017 to help grow the agency. Previously, I spent 11 years at Allstate, working with captive and independent agents to build process and sales strategies to grow their agencies. When I started working at GR Insurance, it had 15 employees and $15 million in premium. Six years later, we have 172 employees and over $130 million in premium.
Why personal lines insurance?
Personal lines insurance is a fundamental part of modern life and is vital in safeguarding individuals, families, property and their wellbeing. It is complex, ever-changing, technology-driven and way more interesting than most people know. I also love how personal lines insurance fosters a competitive work environment. Whether between agents, agencies or carriers, I love the competitive environment.
Challenges in the personal lines market?
Inflation has affected the cost of building materials and auto parts. Both home and auto insurance costs have been rising due to severe weather events, leading to higher property damage claims and more expensive vehicle repairs. However, there are also many cool things going on with technology in our industry. The industry ebbs and flows, and we constantly face new challenges when running an insurance agency. The fun part is figuring out how to maneuver your agency through the tough times and then step on the gas during the good times.
Personal lines insurance agencies live in a highly competitive environment, with traditional agency models facing competition from InsurTech startups and other agencies investing in this space. Traditional insurance agency models must innovate and improve customer experiences by adopting digital tools and platforms to enhance their agency and customer experience. Agencies must continue to communicate effectively with current and new customers through online marketing and social media.
Advice for a fellow agent?
Make sure your carrier relationships are mutually beneficial. Listen to what your carriers are asking for in your relationship. Hire great people who fit your business model and don't hold onto employees who do not help your business grow.
Also, understand what technology is available to help grow your agency but avoid long-term contracts that don't allow you to pivot in the future. Create key performance indicators for your business and review them often. Communicate with your team and your customers—everyone should know and align with your goals and vision.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.