I have been a licensed P&C insurance agent since I was 22 years old, right out of college. Every meal I have ever eaten, I owe to the independent agency channel.

My career has spanned national brokers and small-town agencies, retail and wholesale, sales, marketing and technology. It’s been a great journey and the adventure is only getting better. For the past 5 years, I have been privileged to lead TrustedChoice.com and Agency Nation.

While the photo below doesn’t include our full crew, it does capture our hardworking, fun-loving culture.

A flashback and fast forward

The transformation and evolution of TrustedChoice.com over the past few years has been nothing short of amazing. I remember the day in 2013 when we connected the first personal lines insurance shopper with an insurance agent in Minnesota. Back then, the site was in its infancy and struggling to make an impact on an industry both large and competitive.

Fast forward to the close of 2017 and it’s remarkable to see where we are today!

In four short years, we’ve welcomed more than 15 million insurance shoppers to TrustedChoice.com. We’ve educated them, empowered them and connected them to the right independent insurance agent for their family or business when they needed it most.

Through our technology we made digital introductions in every city and town in America, providing visibility to the 27,000 agency locations receiving referrals from TrustedChoice.com. This year alone, we will deliver over 125,000 referrals to independent agents across the country.

From large commercial policies to personal home and auto policies to the unique, the one thing these referrals all share is they have all been real people looking to buy insurance from a local independent insurance agent.

Teamwork makes the dream work

Since the beginning, our team has been singly focused on building solutions that help our partners thrive in the modern insurance world. We’re continually working to enhance our digital solutions and advance IA channel success.

Alongside driving referrals and visibility for agents and insurance companies, I am also proud of the work we’re doing, under the direction of Chief Marketing Officer Ryan Hanley, at Agency Nation. More than a digital marketing education platform, it’s also a rich and growing community of the best and brightest stars in the IA universe.

If you haven’t discovered the valuable content on Agency Nation, I encourage you take a few minutes to watch an episode of Ryan’s The Show or Syd’s Front Roe, or peruse an article from industry veteran Marty Agather and newcomer Joey Giangola.

Better still, come join 600 of your most fun-loving, innovation-focused peers at our now annual conference, Elevate 2018, and you’ll see what I mean.

There is an unbelievable amount of positive energy coming out of Agency Nation and its source is all of you, like some of the agents shown below who joined us last year—agents that are stepping up and making a statement about who they are and what they stand for. And leading their business forward.

Our insurtech bet is squarely on you

I am also encouraged by what I am seeing in the insurtech space. This has been a hot topic for the past few years. Namely, that these insurtech “disruptors” spell an end for our channel.

I have one reply to that idea, which I share every time I get on stage, “Wanna bet?!”

The value that you bring to your clients is invaluable and not easily replaced by a chat bot, that’s for sure.

When a person or a business has something to protect and they are buying insurance for that reason—protection, safety, security—they aren’t buying a piece of paper or a low-price premium, they are buying peace of mind.

It’s the ability to put their head on a pillow at night and sleep well, knowing that their life-savings is protected and that a professional expert advisor, someone they trust and can hold accountable, stood with them and advised them to make their insurance purchase.

They don’t want to worry that they didn’t buy the right insurance, that they clicked the wrong button or replied incorrectly when a chat bot asked them a question. I’m certain you share same assessment.

Building tech to leverage relationships, not replace them

The consensus I am seeing now across the industry is a move toward an evolving hybrid model. One that combines both digital and analog technologies to leverage the strengths of the IA channel, not replace it. The expertise and inherent trust that come with an independent agent are the key to the best possible customer experience.

We see digital technology as the efficiency multiplier that eliminates wasted time for agents and makes it possible for them to be more productive than ever, helping more customers than ever.

We’ve had one heck of year, driving more traffic, referrals and visibility for the IA channel. Whether you took a risk on a TrustedChoice.com subscription in 2013 or you are just getting started building online relationships on our digital referral platform, thank you for your trust. We’ve been working hard to build value for you, with so much more to come.

Thank you and cheers to a prosperous 2018!

Chip

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