Big “I” Recognizes Best Practices Study’s Top Performers

GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND, THE BAHAMAS, Jan. 14, 2008 – Six insurance firms from across the country have been recognized as �Top Performing Agencies� and enjoy the distinction of being included in the recently released Best Practices Study, a prestigious report from the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big �I�) and Reagan Consulting, an Atlanta-based management consulting firm.

The six agencies were singled out for their operational excellence, financial results, and overall management achievement in their respective revenue-size categories.

“These agencies should serve as models for agencies and brokerages who want to take their business to the next level and experience significant gains in sales, reputation and customer appreciation,� says Madelyn Flannagan, Big “I” vice president of education and research.

The “Top Performers” include:

  • Bridges Group, Inc., Norton, KS � Bridges Group, Inc. is an independently owned insurance agency that has been serving northwest Kansas since 1894. Although it is a full-lines insurance agency, it is an Agri-Business insurance leader in its marketing area. The agency has offices in Oberline and Norton, KS.
  • Ed Berrong Insurance Agency, Weatherford, OK � Ed Berrong Insurance is a family-owned agency now in its 59th year of business. Located along the mid-west I-40 corridor, the agency does business throughout Oklahoma and in surrounding states. The agency is a full-lines insurance agency with a focus in the oil & gas industry and is a surplus lines broker for its clients.
  • B.H. Gold Insurance Agency, San Diego, CA � Established in 1920, B.H. Gold is California� leader in low cost auto and homeowners insurance. The agency also specializes in affordable health, life, business, and workers compensation insurance. The independently-owned agency has two locations in San Diego and Ventura County.
  • Swingle Collins & Associates, Dallas, TX � Swingle Collins is the largest property-and-casualty-only insurance agency in the Dallas area. Having just celebrated its 25th anniversary, the firm is committed to remaining independently owned. The agency targets mid-market customers and strives to offer the best market representation and relationships available in Texas.
  • Puckett Scheetz & Hogan Insurance Agency, Myrtle Beach, SC � With a vision of writing coastal insurance, in 1980, Puckett and Scheetz Insurance Agency of Greenville, South Carolina opened a branch in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The office was lead by Mike Hogan, who in 1989, purchased the agency from Puckett and Scheetz. A week later Hurricane Hugo struck the South Carolina coast. Despite this setback, the agency has grown to be the largest independent agency on the Grand Strand. Today, with 48 employees, the agency�s focus is customer service whose primary market is condominium insurance associations.
  • McGriff Seibels & Williams, Birmingham, AL � McGriff, Seibels & Williams has a history of service to its clients reaching back more than 100 years. As a privately-held, employee owned company, MSW was ranked 13th among the top 100 insurance brokerage firms in the United States. In February 2004, MSW merged with BB&T and is now affiliated with the 6th largest brokerage firm in the country. MSW operates as a wholly-owned subsidiary of BB&T, retaining its name, management team and corporate philosophy.

“We are extremely proud of these �Best Practices� agencies,� says Shirley Lukens of Reagan Consulting. �They epitomize the professionalism and standard of quality that the industry strives to achieve. That they took the time and effort to participate in the study speaks volumes of its importance to the agency community.�

Eleven insurance companies and three industry vendors that provided financial support for the research and development of the study � Applied Systems, Central Insurance Cos., Chubb, EMC Insurance Companies, Encompass Insurance, Hanover Insurance Group, Harleysville, Imperial AI Credit Companies, InsurBanc, Liberty Mutual, Main Street America Group, MetLife Auto & Home, Safeco, and Zurich North America � were also recognized for their sponsorship.

Every three years, the Big �I� and Reagan Consulting join forces to select �Best Practices� firms throughout the nation for outstanding management and financial achievement in six revenue categories (Under $1,250,000; Between $1,250,000 & $2,500,000; Between $2,500,000 & $5,000,000; Between $5,000,000 & $10,000,000; Between $10,000,000 & $25,000,000; and Over $25,000,000). More than 800 independent agencies and brokers of varying sizes across the country were nominated to take part in the study. Only 195 agencies, the top thirty to thirty-three in each of six revenue groups qualified for selection. The agency was nominated by either a Big �I�-affiliated state association or an insurance company and qualified based on its operational excellence.

The Best Practices Study was initiated by the Big �I� in 1993 as the foundation for efforts to improve agency performance. The survey and study of leading independent insurance agencies documents the business practices of these �best� agencies and urges others to adopt similar practices.

For further information about the Best Practices Study, please contact Madelyn Flannagan at (800) 221-7917 or Shirley Lukens of Reagan Consulting at (404) 233-5545.

Founded in 1896, IIABA is the nation�s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing a network of more than 300,000 agents, brokers and their employees nationally. Its members are businesses that offer customers a choice of policies from a variety of insurance companies. Independent agents and brokers offer all lines of insurance�property, casualty, life and health�as well as employee benefit plans and retirement products. Web address: www.independentagent.com

Reagan Consulting is a financial and management consulting firm specializing in services to the insurance distribution system. Clients include the leading brokers, agents and bank-insurance programs in the United States. They provide thought leadership to the banking and insurance industries through perennial research, seminars, and other industry forums.