Stacie King (Director of Communications with Agentero) hosted Cameron Brown in our first Peer-to-Peer Training webinar. We were very excited to have Cameron Brown with us, and this was a very interesting discussion that we felt other Agency Principals or producers that we love to see. Cameron is President of Insurance Brokers of Arizona and moderninsurance.io. Welcome, Cameron!
First, I think any speaker should always give their background so you guys know who you’re talking to. You know, they’re just not a fly-by-night agent. I’m going to start an insurtech agency, and then how I structured it, carriers, and options, be happy at the end to take any questions as well. So started off with my background. I was I went to school for engineering and lost my job after 911. My dad told me to get into sales. So I asked him what the best sales job would be. He said insurance, and 20 years later, I agree with him. Insurance is the best industry in this country. I worked for a couple of captive agents for three years between 2002 and 2005. A couple of the big names State Farm and Allstate worked for a startup agent there and then worked for two seasoned agencies. So learned a lot of, you know, the captive side. But I was going to open up my own captive agency with one of the big names. After three years there, I decided that I needed to go independent. The broker side was where I needed to be. So in 2005, I joined an aggregator slash franchisee network to gain access to all the carriers and started my own independent agency from scratch, Insurance Brokers of Arizona. So started that in 2005. The first couple of years that internet leads were just like everybody else starting up back in the day, referral networking, shaking hands. By 2007, we had enough referrals coming in the door that stopped purchasing internet leads. That was the last time that I paid for any leads was 2007.
So 2008, I ended up separating from that franchise network and then started getting my direct appointments with all the carriers. And during that process, I started asking some of the carriers for a QBI link, you know, a link where I can send customers, consumers, and prospects to quote, bind and issue their own policies. You imagined 15 years ago what that looked like. You know they thought I was crazy for even suggesting that, you know, why would we ever let a customer quote mine and issue their own policy, you know, so a couple of them had, you know, talk to me about it, you know, nothing big, you know, they just wanted my ideas. So then in 2010 to 2015, I slowly started seeing some new, more insurtech carriers pop in, and then they collapse, they’d fail, they go out of the market, you know, so just kept happening, and everything which I was excited about because at least some agents or some insurance carriers were starting to go that route 2016 and 2018 those three years, you know, you started seeing some carriers starting to stick you know the Lemonades of the world the Hippos and all them you know they started to build their platforms build their policy language, and they started to get it right. So I kept my eyes on them, kept tabs, talked to him, and followed them all. And then, in 2021, I decided that the timing was right for me to start an insurtech agency alongside Insurance Brokers of Arizona.
My Insurance Brokers of Arizona it’s grown; we’re a $12 million premium agency right now, over a million and a half in revenue. And I’ve got 14 agents working for me and Insurance Brokers of Arizona; it’s set up a little different than most models; there are zero producers, and they’re all handling the incoming leads I’ve generated over the years. Okay, we’ve built it completely by referral and driven SEO. So the reasoning for me to start this Insurtech agency was, the first thing you’ve got to do is you gotta figure out a reason why, you know, is it just an add-on and complement your existing agency? Do you want complete digital, so it’s mostly hands-off down the road? And then you got to build it from there. For me, it was twofold. The main reason was that I wanted options down the road. You know, I figured out with growing insurance brokers of Arizona, once personnel, you know, for me hit eight employees, it started to become a lot of work for me, you know, a lot more stress involved with the staffing and personnel issues. So for me, it was just I was other options. And I realized that with these InsurTech, carriers, I could probably run the same size agency with a third of the staff if I ever had to. The other option down the road would be to sell the traditional agency insurance brokers of Arizona and run a purely digital or sell on both just run one. The options there gave me many more options, you know. So I decided to find a good platform, you know, I didn’t want to handle I didn’t want to mess with carriers; I wanted this digital agency to be easy, as stress-free as possible.
So you know, I connected with Agentero, and they gave us access to all of the digital InsurTech carriers that we wanted. We got a few of them outside of Agentero direct, as well. I decided I wanted everything completely separate from the Insurance Brokers of Arizona. So I structured it like it’s its own, it’s its own entity, its own platforms, everything. However, as we’re starting up, I do utilize the same employees and resources. Modern insurance, that IO. So at some point here, probably in the next year or so, we’ll have a full staff on that side and everything strictly, you know, free from Insurance Brokers of Arizona. But I did; I decided that it was gonna be InsurTech only; we’re not going to have the progress with Travelers or any of the other traditional carriers there. I wanted everything in there to be fast, simple, and smart. Knowing that down the road, those InsurTech carriers will make it even easier. They’re going to have those TBI portals out there. They’re going to have those direct API integrations for whatever you want to do. So from there, you just get to look at the carriers and make sure that they’re on board with your vision. And then look at them. There are several different platform aggregators out there. Agentero is one of them that I think is probably the best, you know, out there. One of its beauties is that you guys can build and structure your agencies in the independent agency world. However, it works and makes sense for you. You know, we’re not told what we need to do. You just have to do your due diligence, map it out, and run with it.
To date, we started modern insurance that IO last June. We’re coming up on one year since we launched it. We currently have about $750,000 in premium through those insurtech carriers. Our Commission is starting to hit, you know, eight $9,000 a month now, you know, $6,000 to $9,000 regularly. So it’s starting to really take hold. I do believe that. The more the insurance checks are around and dialing things in, the more they get a larger market share. There’s that younger generation who doesn’t want to talk to agents much. You know, they want it fast. They want it quick they want it now! I felt that from now on, my thinking and building something that can do just that- separately. At first, it wasn’t obvious to have this big thing, but it’s gonna get there. It’s, progressing with the Insurtech field. So, three years from now, four years from now, if I can make us move fast, we’ll be able to just drive consumers to that agency. In the future, I’m guessing 90% of it will be driven by the consumer. They’re going to be doing most of it. So for that, we’re going to be more of a marketing agency, and then a little service help. In a nutshell, this was my thinking behind it.
Cameron and Stacie have talked about his amazing close ratio with cross-selling. Cameron recently said he is using the digital agency for a cross-sell opportunity agency. He’s got his traditional agency, and he services his traditional agency like he would otherwise. He told us how he kind of introduced this new digital agency and this new platform (Agentero) to his current client base. Cameron continues… “We saw Agentero’s platform; they have got a portion in there called opportunities; they will comb your existing book of business and find opportunities that you do not currently have for your existing customers. So we’ll send a report in there, their team throws it into their algorithm, and then spits out on their dashboard, these rental properties that our customers have that we don’t insure their autos, or that we don’t insure that we have their homeowners, I mean, it scrapes the web is bound. I don’t know their algorithm, but it scrapes everything and returns with the opportunities we didn’t have. It’s our existing customers.
So with that, we created a new role within our agency for a cross-sell agent; their entire job is to sit there and go through and comb these new opportunities. It’s I call it the easiest sales job in the world. I mean, it’s current customers. We’ve got over here, look, we’ve got their auto and home. But look, they got three rental properties. Oh, that’s easy. That’s an easy phone call; they know who you are! Boom, done. So we’ve been doing that for a few months. Now. We’re closing at an 85% ratio, guys. So it’s easy.”
What I found in a traditional agency when I really started to dive into our data is we are spending so much time servicing policies. After the sales team issues it, you guys get those underwriting requests and everything after the policy is issued? It drives me nuts. It’s like, you guys already underwrote this, we have already bound it, we took the money it’s issued, quit asking me for more stuff, do it all upfront. So even some of our carriers that were we write a lot of business with pay the higher commissions, I’m finding that it’s costing me $100,000 Or more just to service, the damn book of business, you know, because of everything that they’re asking for InsurTech carriers, obviously, there’s a lot less that goes in after that you issue that policy, there’s virtually nothing. And then the customers can go on the apps and direct with many of them and do their own service requests. So it’s just watching your data and seeing where you’re getting, you know, where the funnel is getting clogged? Basically,
Stacie asks, “How does your staff feel about all of this? Are they on board with it?” They were nervous at first. Not knowing what would happen with the traditional agency, you know, obviously, with a staff of, you know, 14 or 15 agents now, when we launched it, they were a little nervous. But once I showed them the carriers we had on the insurtech side, I went through most of those apps and showed how quick and easy it was. They all jumped on board. I mean, they’re their favorite carriers are our insurtech carriers. And that goes for the sales and service teams; the service team wants the sales team to put everybody through there. So yeah, it’s just so hands-off after the sale, and everything is easy. Our tagline on modern insurance.io is fast, simple, and smart. That’s all we care about for the customer, fast, simple, smart, you know. So yeah, the team, the team jumped on board real quick.
Stacie mentions, “You and I have had this conversation before. That we truly feel like it’s a, it’s a hybrid approach that really works best. Because there are going to be clients that need to speak with an agent at times, and they’re going to want to speak with an agent, especially on a claim situation, they’re going to at least want to have a conversation, typically. But as far as ensuring that you can be the best to your clients when they need you to be and get information in their hands quickly. And like you said, fast and simple, with very little friction. That’s where the digital carriers come into play. We love our traditional carriers; we’re also starting to bring some of those on board as you now. But we also love the system’s simplicity where it just works and does some work for you.”
Even with new prospects, our agency trains our agents to go to one of the insurtech carriers. You can pull all the household information within 30 seconds, just name and address, and 90% of the time, that pulls all the household information. The response on the other end of that phone, when you’re just confirming what vehicles they have, and the drivers versus them having to give you all that information, is overwhelming. I mean, you’re making it easy for him from the get-go. So make that closing ratio go up quite a bit; that builds that rapport much faster. Just a good experience all around for the client.
Stacie asks, “Is there anything else you feel is important to share? We talked just a little bit about, you know, carriers. Stacie asks Cameron, “Would you like to share anything about the difference between direct and aggregator? Or kind of how that works within the agency?” Cameron shares, “I mean, we’ve got all of our carriers are direct, you know, through insurance brokers of Arizona. You know, after early on in my career, being part of that franchise network and everything, it just the aggregator route was no longer appealing to me, you know, so but on the inshore tech side, it just, again, I was trying to make life simpler for me going forward after grown this thing to where we have. So it made more sense for me to join Agentero’s platform with access to their carriers. It just took one thing off my plate that I didn’t want to deal with. So that’s where I’m at. Like I said, the nice thing about being independent is you can do whatever works best for you where you’re at in your stage; what is working for you now makes sense. You may rethink it and change it up five years or eight years down the road. And that’s okay. You know, the key is to always be on that right path and do what you want and think.”