Minority Agent Support Still Has A Ways To Go
By E.E. Mazier
Last year, the Independent Insurance Agents of America touted its first joint annual convention with agents from the National African-American Insurance Association and the Latin American Association of Independent Insurance Agencies. The Alexandria, Va.-based IIAA hoped that this would be a step toward a brighter future for minority insurance agents in particular and the insurance industry in general.
However, “to be perfectly honest[we've had] limited success,” admits IIAA CEO Robert A. Rusbuldt.
The IIAA met with insurance companies and agents, Rusbuldt says, to “brainstorm” ways of providing services and education to “minority and multi-cultural” agencies that might be unaware of what is available to them through their associations or individual insurance companies.
He suggests that minority agents have “been too busy trying to make a living” to take advantage of such programs and services.
Rusbuldt reports that IIAA is engaged in a cooperative effort with independent agency companies such as SAFECO, Travelers and Chubb to attract minority agents. The effort also seeks to provide these agents with the services they need to thrive, not just survive, and to “become completely integrated in their communitiesand within the insurance industry,” he says.
The IIAA believes this is not only “the right thing to do,” but also prudent for the industry. This is because the growing Hispanic and African-American populations represent a “huge” insurance market, Rusbuldt says.
“It makes an incredible amount of business sense to make sure that IIAA agents and brokers are servicing that growing portion of the United States population,” he notes.
That servicing, Rusbuldt says, might involve:
Providing Spanish-speaking agents and customer service representatives for people who are newly arrived in the United States.
Recognizing that there are “definite insurance needs and good risks in inner-city neighborhoods.”
Recognizing that, increasingly, women are making insurance decisions for their families.
Still, no one denies the existence of entrenched obstacles to achieving that ideal.