Are you leveraging health insurance in your property/casualty insurance agency?
Join us as Bob Fee, National Director for the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, explains how property/casualty insurance agencies can leverage health insurance to grow their business.
Bob Fee is also the president and COO of Fee Insurance, an independent agency in Kansas.
Our chat today with Bob Fee is another fantastic episode of our Insurance Industry Interview Series.
Watch the video interview or read the transcript below:
Marty: Marty Agather here at the 2015 Legislative Conference. I’m joined by Bob Fee, the state national representative from Kansas. Bob, welcome.
Bob: Good morning. Thanks for having me.
Marty: You’re absolutely welcome. We love to have you. Tell me a little bit about your agency; where are you located, the size of the agency, what you like to write.
Bob: Okay. Well, we’re in Hutchinson, Kansas, which is pretty much right in the center of the state, which is pretty much right in the center of the country. So we’re close to the actual center of the continental United States. We are a multi-line agency, primarily about 70% commercial, about 20% personal, and about 10% benefits and life insurance, and that actually is our fastest growing segment. Well, I would say we’re a generalist. We’re in a town of about 40,000 people, we have also offices scattered across Kansas. We’re in the Kansas City area. We have an office in Salina, in McPherson, in Wichita, and Dodge City. So we’re trying to spread that risk a little bit around the state. My brother and I own the agency, my brother’s son Jordan has joined us and is a young agent. So we’re a hopefully growing business that has got some perpetuation coming.
Marty: Excellent. Do you have a significant farm business?
Bob: We write some ag farm type business that I would not say is our largest segment, unbelievably. We like medical risks, we write some manufacturing, quite a bit of manufacturing, and just, like I said, general business type accounts.
Marty: I think the fact that you said that you’re doing some benefit stuff is interesting, because a couple years ago everybody assumed that with the ACA, ObamaCare, that that was just going to disappear for us. So how have you seen that development?
Bob: Very interesting. Okay, we did a strategic plan about three years ago now, two and a half years ago, and part of that plan was, “Hey what are we going to do with benefits? Are we in it? Are we out of it? Where is this going?” As a result of that strategic plan and discussing, we actually found, or actually she found us, we found someone who is as knowledgeable with the Affordable Care Act as anyone maybe in the country. And she has an HR background, she has a background working with a third party administrator, and she wanted to be in sales.
Well, she’s a consultative salesperson more than anything, and we’ve built a staff around her and her knowledge. And like I said, the need for consultants with benefits right now is enormous, because nobody knows what their responsibilities and obligations are under the new Affordable Care Act and we’re able to help them. We can either provide just the advice at a fee, or we can take over your benefits and provide the advice along the way. So it’s been a very good thing for our clients, that’s who we’re going to see first, and I think it’s something that they are appreciating more and more.
Marty: That’s really interesting. So you took what sort of common wisdom said was this was going to create a hole on our income statement, and you said “No, no. This provides a new opportunity.”
Bob: Absolutely right. And we really do see that as a fast growing segment of our business.
Marty: So what would your advice be to the viewers of our video here on how they might think about this as an opportunity for their agency?
Bob: Well, two things. Number one, consultative selling works and number two, the Affordable Care Act and all the nuances that are out there provide us a great opportunity to advise our clients and hopefully sell a product along the way. So, it’s not something to forget about and ignore, because I believe those agencies and brokers that are going to pick up on it are also going to come pick up on the property casualty piece along the way.
Marty: So are you primarily doing that to existing P&C accounts that you’re cross-selling, or do you actually go out and acquire a piece of benefits business which you then bring the P&C side into?
Bob: We’re doing both.
Bob: We’re absolutely doing both, but we believe that we need to go to our current clients first and provide the service and the benefit to them. And some of them already work with somebody else and that’s fine, as long as they know that we’re doing it. And then we’ve created a whole new potential property casualty side of things because our benefits team is going out seeking new opportunity as well.
Marty: Excellent. What are the economics like in Kansas right now?
Bob: The good thing about Kansas and the mid-west is our lows are never as low as they are on the west coast and the east coast, and our highs are never as high as they are in the west coast and east coast. We’re fairly steady, but the economy, I think, since 2008 we’ve seen improvement. I don’t think we’ve seen drastic improvement, but certainly payrolls are up, employee count is up, and for the most part business is good. One of the challenges in smaller communities, and probably in larger communities too is that we’ve had a number of businesses sell out. When a business sells out to either a multinational company or just a larger company headquartered in Chicago, we tend to lose the business. And so that’s why we’re having to really spread across Kansas looking for a new opportunity, because that becomes a challenge in small towns.
Marty: That consolidation, yes. Well I know you obviously have been very committed to the association over the years, right?
Marty: So you’ve had a number of key roles within the national association, I’m sure you held many chairs in the state association before you came.
Marty: Talk a little bit about what volunteering means to you, because I know you’ve got a strong service bent and how that’s benefited your agency and yourself personally.
Bob: Okay. Well, I’ll credit my mom and dad because they instilled in us at an early age that from whom much is given, much is expected, and we have been blessed with quite a bit. And so our whole focus in our agency is to give back, and we try to give back in many, many ways in our communities, all the communities that we’re in and I have always been a believer in giving back to our industry. This is a fantastic industry, some of the best people I’ve ever met are in this industry and this association, and by my giving, I always get more than I give. I always get more than I give. So I think servant leadership is a good way of living your life and being a part of your community and being a part of your industry, and that’s just what I believe.
Marty: I agree. Words to live by, without question. Now that you’ve been at the national level for some time, tell me what’s one of the big issues that you’ve gravitated towards, that you think this association needs to move towards to really make a difference.
Bob: That’s a big question.
Bob: We have so many things going on at this association, I guess if I boiled it down I would say that one thing I tend to think that we should do is a little bit of a self-examination on what we’re doing. Are we doing too much? What is good for our members? What do they want? And recognize that, and there may be some things that we don’t need to do anymore so that we can put more money into other areas and opportunities that will benefit our membership.
And we need to remember that as an association, we always need to be mindful of who is footing the bill for us. It’s our members. If we’re not providing services and things that they need, they’re not going to join and they’re not going to be involved. So I guess I don’t have any one thing. That was a tough question. But I think it’s a real holistic look at ourselves as a national association and I think each state needs to do that as well, so that we can really be lean and mean and do the very best that we can for our members.
Marty: I think what you’re describing is stewardship, because we ask our members to participate and we have to make sure that we are maximizing the value of the resources that they provide to us, because they expect nothing less.
Bob: That’s correct. Absolutely.
Marty: All right. Well Bob, I want to thank you. I know you’re busy, you’ve got another meeting to get off to. Thanks for coming.
Bob: Thank you.
Marty: We’d love to do this again if we’ve got a chance.
Bob: We’ll get a chance. Thank you.
Marty: All right, thanks. Bye-bye now.
Health insurance, despite recent Obamacare regulations, still provides property/casualty insurance agents with an incredible revenue growth opportunity.
Are you leveraging health insurance in your agency?