Affiliate Perspective: Scott from Marindependent
An Agency Owner’s Perspective on Why OLI Has Been a Great Partner
In this OLI Insight, we are going to hear from Scott, an affiliate who partnered with us to help his agency. Scott is an independent insurance agent based in Marin County, California. He started out in retail sales, worked in sales in the wireless industry, and then was exposed to working in sales within a captive insurance agency. After his negative experience with that first insurance agency, he decided to go out and create his own independent agency, Marindependent Insurance Services.
Scott’s insurance agency specializes in hard-to-place insurance in a county that is full of many potentially hazardous conditions like mountains, flood zones, wildfires, etc. Scott discovered early on that there’s no one insurance company that can do it all with excellence, so he decided to go the independent route. And he’s never looked back since then. Scott’s partnership with OLI has been very beneficial for the growth of his independent agency, and we are going to unpack just why that is below.
Let’s Hear Scott’s Perspective:
1. Why Did You Choose to Partner with OLI Insurance Services?
“It was really quite simple, I was just really quite impressed with them (OLI) from our very first meeting, they were so patient with me, and they weren’t pushy. I’ve worked with lots of MGA’s (Managing General Agent) [and similar access partners], but they just seemed super patient with me and I was impressed with it.”
“It took me, I don’t know, maybe six months for me to finally commit and make a decision. But it was really just their knowledge of the industry and their access to all the tools that really appealed to me.”
2. What Has Your Experience with OLI Been Like?
“My experience with OLI has been a fantastic experience. The rollout took me several months, and I’m still learning new things every day. The one thing that has separated OLI from the other access partners I’ve worked with, is the Client Relationship Manager–the client representative.”
“It’s just such an important role that none of the other market access providers have. You can actually call this one person as kind of your quarterback, asking them ‘who do I call on this or where do I go?’ And the support at that level is a fantastic difference, and like I said it’s been a really positive experience.”
“I don’t know everything and few insurance agents do know everything, and it’s really helpful to have one person you can go to and direct you.”
3. How Has OLI and the Use of Technology Impacted Your Business?
“I think in the insurance industry, the word technology is almost kind of a scary word, but it doesn’t have to be. The thing is, when you have a good partner, it saves me from having to go and research price for agency management systems, or other IT insurance-related products.”
“All I have to do is just focus on using what they have and learning what they have to offer. After taking the time and applying it, I can focus more on the marketing and sales, which is really where insurance agents should be focusing, and not have to worry about the backend so much.”
Here, Scott is referring to how we offer our brokers a turnkey agency management system, so that there is greater efficiency in how they operate. We can implement things like an API connection directly into a carrier website, so the broker can put in a lead once, get it quoted, get it bound and then have the agency management system seamlessly updated.
Another component to that is our Fully Outsourced solution where we create a New Business Microsite, a lead referral portal, and brokers like Scott are able to refer leads for insurance coverages outside his core competence. OLI fulfillment staff then sells and services on his behalf, and is able to provide coverages for Commercial Lines, Personal Lines, Life Insurance and/or Employee Benefits. Then we take it a step further, with our Prospect Manager Application, where these brokers can actually check in real-time, who’s assigned to a referred lead, what the status of the lead is, what markets have been approached, and much more. It’s great because it gives full transparency all around.
These two systems help to bridge the gap in trust by providing consistency and transparency across the entire process. To our knowledge, very few partners can offer agencies with this ability and allow them to maintain freedom and autonomy while growing their company.
4. What Have You Been Able to Accomplish With OLI That You Weren’t Able to Before?
“OLI has allowed me to produce more, bringing in more business rather than me spending so much time locating the carrier or finding whatever technology I needed to in order to connect me to the right carrier. I spend a lot less time searching and a lot more time closing with OLI behind me.”
“You know, small insurance agents shouldn’t be spending an infinite amount of time locating the right resources. I feel like I’ve got somebody at my back that I can turn to and pick up the phone and call my Client Relationship Manager and say, ‘Okay, where do you guys think I should take this one? Where’s the best solution to this?’”
“With the technology and resources provided together from OLI, it really enables small agencies to grow a lot quicker, especially for my own agency with it now growing more than I ever was before.”
5. How Does Your OLI Experience Differ From Other Aggregator Experiences?
“Am I allowed to laugh in this interview? Yes, I’ve noticed a huge difference. Honestly I’ve probably worked with, six, maybe ten different aggregators, MGA’s, clusters, whatever you want to call them, and I’ve had positive and negative experiences. However OLI is the closest thing I’ve come across to a full-service, full-access aggregator out there.”
“From everything like help with direct access [to top, A-Rated national carriers] to non–admitted options, commercial lines, flood lines, earthquake lines, but it’s not just help there, it’s the technology, the support, the training as well. Quite frankly, OLI is one of the only aggregators that I’ve worked with that I get the feeling that [they] actually know what [they’re] doing.”
“The quote I like to use is they say you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince, I don’t know that I’m looking for a prince but I did kiss a lot of amphibians in the process and I finally feel like I can stop kissing the frogs at this point!”
6. How Does Working With OLI in Your Industry Prepare You for The Future?
“The big thing is that I feel like I don’t need to worry. I mean, I don’t want to say not worry but before it was constantly ‘oh my gosh, what am I supposed to get now?’ I know if there is something that I need to know, or there’s some new tool, OLI is much more likely to bring it to me than I’m going to stumble across it.”
“[OLI] just recently brought on a cyber insurance option which, it sounds horrible, but it’s something that I haven’t given much thought. That’s a classic example of OLI locating something that I hadn’t really considered before.”
“So I know [OLI] has my back on that and are bringing me things almost every quarter, like ‘okay I hadn’t thought about this’, this saves me the time of worrying.”
7. What Made You Decide to Start Looking For an Aggregator?
“Well, you know I left a captive insurer, and I had a pretty bad experience with them. So ever since I left them, to start up my own insurance agency I’ve been constantly looking for aggregators. I could go through the list of carriers, aggregators, or clusters that I’ve interviewed or used, many of the ones that don’t have a fee for service, I’ve used them because it’s simple to get in with those guys. So I’ve constantly been looking for [the right] one.”
“I have a big internet presence. I’m kind of like a half internet guy, half insurance agent and a lot of people find me through the internet. Virtually everyone outside of referrals, finds me via the internet. So I’ve been constantly looking for aggregators or MGA’s but at this point because of OLI, I’m not really looking anymore.”
“I feel like I found a home and this one works, the system works, and the thing about OLI is, they listen to me. I make suggestions and they take in some of my suggestions.”
8. What Made You Happiest About Working With OLI?
“The people. Seriously, it’s the people. You can talk about technology or insurers all you want but it’s the people. As I’ve already said, I have a dedicated Client Relationship Manager that I can call, that’s the first thing. But I’ve met these people, they put well-choreographed events together, they call me, they check in, and people follow up and they do what they say.”
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve submitted applications off to carriers and they don’t even acknowledge they received the email and that’s just not the case with OLI. The people are what stand heads above other aggregators.”
9. Why Would You Recommend OLI to Others?
“One of the main reasons is the people. You get real people and in this day and age everyone calls a 1 – 800 number and nobody picks up the phone. That happens to me in my selling world, I’ll pick up the phone and say ‘this is Scott Johnson, how can I help you?’ and people will be like ‘holy cow, someone who actually answers the phone?’ it’s like people are shocked.”
“But the people side is a big part, the piece of the pie that makes OLI whole, but the people are a huge part. The technology it’s the plug-and-play, they have all the stuff you need that you don’t need to research it. The other piece of the pie is the carriers, they have lots and lots of carriers, where I’ve got tons of options.”
“The last piece of the pie, which is probably the newer stuff that they’re working on, is helping insurance agents market and create business for themselves.”
Want to Work With a Trusted Insurance Aggregator Partner?
As you’ve seen from Scott, we care about our relationships with the agencies we work with. We take pride in knowing they are achieving the kind of success they want in their agency.
OLI Insurance guides our affiliate brokers with solutions in a number of areas like providing the opportunity to grow your agency through access to top carriers, helping you leverage synergistic relationships in our network, and have access to the innovative tech, admin, and marketing solutions you need to succeed. We also provide agency exit and perpetuation strategies focusing on freedom and independence for your agency.
Whatever your particular needs, in most cases, we can provide a solution to you where you don’t just survive, but thrive. If you are ready to have a conversation with us, please click to learn more about how to become an Affiliate today.
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