Insurance Office of America’s John Harrold On The Role Of An Insurance Producer
Insurance is a huge umbrella industry with varying types of customer touchpoints. Insurance agents (also known as producers or brokers) all participate as one of the first interaction experiences for any customer. They are often the information facilitator, ensuring that the customer has one touchpoint for most interactions. Additionally, they often act in an advisory and advocate position.
Insurance producers like Insurance Office of America’s John Harrold uphold long-term customer service as an integral part of their role. These insurance professionals serve a key role that helps form the crucial relationship between the insurance company and the client. Professionals in these positions help clarify plan details and provide valuable advice to help their customers choose the right coverage for their account.
Not all producers in an insurance company are the same.
Insurance producer and Vice President of Insurance Office of America (IOA) John Harrold is part of the movement to innovate the insurance industry, with an aim to offer a better value to both customer and producer. With a goal to modernize the antiquated systems that render the insurance industry notoriously cumbersome, these innovators are paving the way to a modern, efficient, and streamlined insurance experience tailored to the evolving needs of consumers.
Insurance Office of America approaches the roles of insurance producers as independent business owners themselves. The IOA leaders believe in giving their agents more freedom to create relationships and sell without continually changing deals.
Building up this position helps the customer benefit from producers who are truly invested in giving them the very best service. When a producer is cared for and valued, they will pass the positive energy on to their contacts. Providing a great work environment means making it better for the whole team, as well as the customer.
This is why John Harrold and IOA believe it is crucial to create a great environment for insurance producers.
What is an Insurance Producer?
Unless a consumer strictly sticks to purchasing online insurance, they are going to interact with an insurance producer. In an online-dependent modern realm, one may wonder if an insurance agent is even necessary. One may not even be certain what an insurance producer does, and how this role may be helpful in the current insurance climate.
We’ve changed as a society with the mainstream integration of the internet. Prior to the general adoption of the internet for completing transactions of any kind, just about every industry required salespeople. From retail salespeople to auto sales associates, these roles continue to exist in today’s physical shopping landscape. When it comes to insurance, there are a lot of details that need to be considered. It’s not only the purchase that may benefit from guidance, but also any claims down the road.
The Role of the Insurance Producer
Some consumers wonder if they need an agent. Why bother talking to a person during business hours when there are options to simply check the boxes and fill out forms online? Times have changed, and we now have options for access to nearly everything online.
However, as IOA Chairman and CEO Heath Ritenour points out, “We have relationships, and those are powerful. A computer can’t build a relationship with a CEO, CFO or an HR director. We can build these relationships, leveraging the power of a computer.” The world wide web isn’t making the producer less crucial, it’s helping them get their jobs done more effectively. There are many key services that insurance producers provide, including:
- Ensuring policy requirements are fulfilled
- Customizing programs to provide ideal insurance coverage
- Inspecting property to determine insurance risk
- Calculating premiums and setting up payments
- Monitoring insurance claims and helping clients with the process
- Acting as intermediary between the client and insurance company
Experienced leader John Harrold of Insurance Office of America wants to ensure his team is offering value that extends far beyond a simple website form. Even with machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), the creativity and personal relationships of human agents offer something a computer can never truly replicate.
That doesn’t mean ignoring the upcoming tech—quite the opposite. John Harrold and IOA leaders want to utilize the intelligence of technology to help their agents gain access to tools that support their efforts. In the modernization process, they want to equip consumers with the streamlined capabilities to self-perform various tasks, with the customer-centric “human communication” capability available when desired. When the tools are better, both the clients and the producers win.
How IOA is Disrupting the Industry
There are many insurance companies that have resisted change. There is a “way things are done” mentality that isn’t always in the best interest of the customer or producer. These policies are often sluggish or slanted in favor of the insurance company’s bottom line.
IOA is interested in modernizing the industry and disrupting the status quo in insurance. This company does not want to be like all the others, but it is still founded on an understanding of what the traditional insurance producer does for a client.
IOA: Different From Inception
Since the company’s fledgling days, IOA Co-founder John Ritenour wanted to disrupt the way insurance producers were being treated. He was frustrated with his employers constantly changing deals on him. He had worked as an insurance producer for years and felt the system just wasn’t there to help him succeed.
“At one of my first agencies, my commission structure changed three times within nine months and never in a better direction,” said John Ritenour. “That’s when we decided to build something different. I wanted to design a place that provided what I looked for as a sales representative.”
Leadership within an insurance company can often get separated from the day-to-day operations. When their top agents start making a lot of money, many traditional leaders tend to reconfigure the deals so the producers have to continually work harder. John Ritenour felt this was a problematic approach.
He decided to create his own insurance company in 1988, establishing the new rules himself. The original company was Insurance Office of Florida but changed names when it started growing to include other states. His goal was to disrupt the market via a company that cared about its employees.
IOA brought on John Harrold as a top insurance producer and Vice President of the company. Along with John Ritenour’s son, Heath, John Harrold has helped lead the company to be different from other insurance agencies.
Choosing the Insurance Producer Over Company Gains
“We won’t go public. We won’t sell.” is a mantra of the family-owned legacy business Insurance Office of America. This allows IOA to make sure their producers have stable deals that won’t change just because they are making too much money, or as a result of overall economic changes. The company is focused on long-term growth, instead of merely beating the quota for the quarter.
If IOA was publicly traded, they would become tethered to quarterly reports and shareholders. As it is, IOA can ensure their producers get a good deal and do what’s best for the customer. Ultimately, IOA has already caused a major disruption in the industry. Agents are leaving other companies as they see the close-knit team that shares growth at IOA.
As the company is private, IOA has been able to invest profits back into the company for both agents and customers. IOA is an innovator looking to the future.
Empowering Producers to Act as Independent Leaders
Insurance Office of America (IOA) is structured in a more innovative manner than their traditional counterparts when it comes to setting up their insurance producers. The company allows their insurance producers to have much more freedom, and also act as independent contractors in their role. This creates a corporate culture that values entrepreneurial spirits, desire to succeed, and autonomy.
The company wants the producers to buy-in to its pursuit of providing the customer with both the value and relationship that makes an insurance producer so important. As the company website explains, “If you are an entrepreneurially driven and strategically minded insurance professional who thrives on the freedom of building a book of business that you have a vested ownership interest in, then IOA is right for you.”
Insurance Office of America offers the best compensation packages in the industry and places no limits on how much Producers can earn. “We’re not here to press down on you and get in your business,” CEO Heath often tells his team. “We’re here to fan those flames, tell you that we value you and give you opportunities as an entrepreneur to build something. And give you the ability to out-earn me as CEO—which every year, folks in this room do. I think that’s great.”
There is no competitive bickering between producers competing for positions within the company. The fair pay structure, freedom and open communication of IOA encourages the participants to act as a team and work together for the good of all.
Leaders Who Fit the Bill
Often, businesses fail when the leadership is too separated from the lower ranks within the company. When higher decision-makers aren’t plugged in with all team members, things start to crumble. Insurance agencies have to treat their producers with care, as they are the wheels that keep the vehicle moving in the right direction. When deals change and insurance companies flip scripts, the agents tend to leave.
Both Heath Ritenour and John Harrold know what it takes to thrive as producers. They have worked their way up the ranks and understand what it takes to succeed in helping clients day-in and day-out. The company treats insurance producers more like independent business owners, trusting them to work hard and help their clients.
Due to their own experience, IOA leaders continually encourage producers to find the balance between family and work. They want their teams to be well-rounded individuals that care about relationships first and foremost.
In an “industry of sameness,” IOA wants to stand out for insurance producers.