The Big “I” president & CEO received the 2023 Jeff Yates Lifetime Achievement Award, the highest recognition the Big “I" bestows on a non-agent.
At this morning's Big “I" Legislative Conference Breakfast, Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I" president & CEO, received the 2023 Jeff Yates Lifetime Achievement Award—the highest recognition the Big “I" bestows on a non-agent.
The award, established in 2013 in recognition of former Big “I" CEO Jeff Yates, recognizes those beyond the agent community who contribute to the vitality and strength of the independent agency system. The Big “I" designed the award to identify an individual—whether a carrier field rep, state association staff member or industry educator—who committed their career and energy to make independent agents and the national association successful.
In September 2022, Rusbuldt announced that he will retire on Aug. 31, 2023. Subsequently, the Big “I" Executive Committee named Charles Symington, Big “I" executive vice president, as Rusbuldt's successor, who was on hand to present Rusbuldt with this prestigious honor.
Rusbuldt “has devoted his entire adult life to serving independent agents and, specifically, the Big 'I,'" Symington said as he announced the award. “He has become the longest-serving top executive in the history of this organization. His accomplishments are many and varied ... but suffice to say, he has been the No. 1 advocate of the independent agency system and the Big 'I' during his nearly 38-year career."
Rusbuldt joined the association in 1986 and was named CEO in 2001 after leading the government affairs department at the Big “I" for many years. He has overseen many major Big “I" initiatives, including the inception of Big “I" Markets, a market access program for agent members; the formation of BIRC, a reinsurance company, and InsurBanc, a bank catering to independent insurance agencies' needs; the implementation of a marketing brand for members, Trusted Choice®, and the consumer-facing agent locator and company, TrustedChoice.com; the creation of Big “I" Hires, a national hiring resource for the independent agency channel; and the establishment of the Trusted Choice Disaster Relief Fund and COVID-19 Relief Fund for member agencies in need, among other notable innovations.
“It's been an incredible privilege and honor to serve you," Rusbuldt said as he accepted the award. “I couldn't ask for a better job and better agent and broker leadership. I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams and I thank God for that blessing."
During his time at the Big “I," Rusbuldt was named a “Top 25 Living Legend of Insurance" by PropertyCasualty360.com and, last year, he was recognized by Insurance Business magazine among the world's top insurance leaders on its Global 100 list. Rusbuldt also recently steered the Big “I" through the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the celebration of the association's 125th anniversary.
Rusbuldt is a respected expert on tax, banking, insurance and financial services issues in Washington, D.C. The Washington Post, Roll Call and The Hill have repeatedly cited him one of the most influential private-sector people with Congress. He has been a frequent television and radio commentator on small business, insurance and disaster recovery issues and has also provided election and political analysis for a variety of national and local news outlets over the years.
Jeff Yates came on stage for the presentation of the award, and Rusbuldt thanked him for being a “mentor and incredible friend."
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.