Transition in Insurance: IIA of Nebraska Building a New Generation of Leaders

Over the next decade, the insurance industry in Nebraska will see a large generational turnover in many family-owned agencies.

One of the biggest concerns of Independent Insurance Agents of Nebraska (IIAN) members is finding quality candidates to fill positions, according to Executive Director Anne Ames.

“Finding a new generation of leaders in all types of agencies is a priority,” Ames said.

Founded in 1907 as the Nebraska Association of Local Insurance Agents, IIAN today represents over 500 independent insurance agencies and has more than 2,000 member agents throughout the state. The association is organized under a board of directors, but the CEO and five staff members run the daily operations.

The industry is also facing a major transition as larger national companies purchase smaller agencies, many of them family-owned.

“It is critical that we learn and adapt to what those larger companies need from us compared to the needs of our smaller agencies,” Ames said. “The insurance industry is embracing technology and automation where it is appropriate. Agents want to make things easy for their customers by offering digital services and options, but it’s also important to maintain personal connections and hands-on service.”

Organizational Focus

IIAN works to provide resources and services that allow Nebraska independent insurance agents the opportunity to grow and reach their potential. It does this through legislative advocacy, educational programs, marketing resources, notifying members of current events, offering competitive products and resources, partnering with industry vendors and fostering a community with fellow independent agents, and much more.

“Our overall goal is to ensure that [independent insurance agents] have a support system in place through the association for whatever need they might have,” Ames said.

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The organization provides educational opportunities for members. IIAN currently has a large catalog of online learning and in-person classes, certification opportunities and conventions that provide in-person learning, networking and growth opportunities.

“IIAN works with our members to determine legislative priorities and is active in the Nebraska Legislature to voice both concerns and support for bills that we have identified,” Ames said. “We also work with the National Association of Independent Agents and Brokers of America to address legislative issues that exist on a national level. IIAN has a local PAC for Nebraska and supports our national InsurPAC as well.”

The organization works in tandem with its national offices to help agents with marketing, social media, market access and a variety of promotions.

IIAN also operates a for-profit side, Nebraska Agency Services Corporation, which provides insurance products for agents, including business liability policies.

The Next Five Years

Going forward, IIAN will work toward improving market access options for its members.

“We want to make sure that our members are able to find new customers and not lose potential customers to online-only companies,” Ames said. “It is our goal to make sure that Nebraskans understand the tremendous value that comes along with working with an independent insurance agent and the personal service that agent is able to provide—both on the front end and when problems and claims arise.”

A top priority is providing outreach to the youth in Nebraska, in particular through the organization’s college outreach programs at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Nebraska at Omaha and University of Nebraska at Kearney.

“Insurance is a solid career path with many varying options in terms of work and we want to make sure that younger people take that into consideration when making career choices,” Ames said.

Another top-tier goal is to assist IIAN’s agencies with remaining relevant.

“As technology changes and more things are digitized it’s easier than ever to find services online without having to interact with a human,” Ames said. “We want to make sure Nebraskans know that personalized service from an independent agent provides them with a higher quality of product and a relationship that they can count on.”