Big “I” Chairman Jon Jensen presented the State of the Association address to Big “I” Virtual Legislative Conference attendees, offering hope and encouragement after what can only be described as a very difficult year.
Big “I" Chairman Jon Jensen (pictured left) presented the State of the Association address to Big “I" Virtual Legislative Conference attendees today, offering hope and encouragement after what can only be described as a very difficult year where we have “seen the loss of loved ones, severe sickness, isolation, jobs lost, schools shuttered, and more," he said.
As Big “I" members across the nation continue to work hard to assist their clients and communities through unimaginable challenges, Jensen highlighted the many ways the Big “I" has been “on the cutting edge in delivering for agents during the pandemic."
“Almost immediately after the world shut down last spring, thanks to our company partners, we raised $2.8 million in our Trusted Choice® Covid-19 Relief Fund," Jensen said. “On Capitol Hill we secured important Payroll Protection Program funding in federal law to help you and your employees."
“Our bank, InsurBanc, has written nearly $100 million in PPP loans for our members," Jensen continued, and “we have also worked with our insurance companies to expedite contingency payments for agencies during the pandemic."
The world has changed the way it does business and as agents adapted, the Big “I" did too. TrustedChoice.com verified that agents are doing more transactions online with potential and existing clients. To help agents adapt to the digital world, the Trusted Choice agent resources website has recently been redesigned to “help you emerge from the pandemic stronger than before."
Jensen also highlighted the ongoing success of the Agents Council for Technology (ACT) which he describes as being “at the forefront of ensuring our members' data security is a top issue." Additionally, the Big “I" Virtual University “continues to see higher usage by our members every year and with the pandemic producing lots of confusing and unprecedented coverage questions, the VU will continue to be an invaluable resource moving forward."
Furthermore, “Big 'I' Hires continues to grow, with nearly 1,000 new hires in member agencies since the program began in late 2018," Jensen said. “It has also provided much-needed HR assistance to help members navigate telework and compliance with new regulations from various COVID-19 assistance programs."
The Big “I" continues its work in helping agents come back stronger than before with the launching of new initiatives “because we want everyone—agency principals, producers, CSRs, young professionals, human resources staffers—to lean on the services and expertise the Big “I" offers," Jensen said. “Throughout the year, look to our social media, website, publications, your amazing state associations—even Insurance Journal TV—to learn about how we help every Big “I" member agency employee succeed."
Throughout the pandemic, Big “I" members have continually shown commitment to the communities they call home and Jensen cited a few examples—“the staff of Meiers, Lombardini and Lemanski in Michigan, have been purchasing lunches from their struggling restaurant clients to distribute to local hospital cleaning crews; the Hazar Insurance Team in Maryland takes part in a state program with the Turkish Embassy to provide personal protective equipment to local government entities; our Massachusetts state association made bins of individually wrapped snacks to sustain exhausted first responders working double shifts, and the staff from Shepard Walton King Insurance in Texas gave the Rio Grande Valley nurses thank you cards and gifts and partnered with a food bank and education group to help families impoverished by the pandemic."
“We are at our best when our clients and communities need us most," he added. “We put lives and businesses back together."
Looking ahead, there is light “at the end of this dark tunnel," Jensen said. “With vaccines more widely available and federal and state assistance flowing, we will see our economy improve, and that's good news for our industry and the independent agency system."
Big “I" advocacy efforts will continue at every level and “will remain crucial to our future success," Jensen said. “Bob Rusbuldt and Charles Symington are recognized virtually every year as top association advocates in Washington, D.C.—not just in our industry, but for all national associations."
But as we look to the future, we also celebrate our past. 2021 marks the 125th anniversary of the Big “I."
“We were founded in 1896, with many of our local boards even older," Jensen said. “We have a storied history that we will commemorate throughout the year. Watch later this year for a special edition of Independent Agent magazine in September, some special videos, and an anniversary dinner at our Fall Leadership Conference in Kansas City."
“Let's keep the hope that this pandemic ends soon, and we'll return to more normal business, but with the benefit of the knowledge we've gained from the last year," Jensen said. “As independent agents, we always build on our past, evolving to adapt to the future."
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.