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KAIA Holds Member Focus Group

On June 20, KAIA held a focus group attended by members of all committees to discuss member needs and gather additional feedback on the results of our member survey.  Approximately 40 members joined the focus group which included a good mix of different positions within the agencies and various experience levels in the insurance industry.

The group started with a general discussion on the Kansas marketplace with many describing it as “hard” and “very challenging”. Attendees felt carrier appetites and underwriting guidelines had become much stricter and severely tightened in the past several years. Agencies are spending much more time in remarketing customer accounts with over half of attendees currently remarketing at least 50% of customers!  Changes in carrier appetites combined with increased renewal workload has made new business production even more challenging. From a coverage accessibility and limits standpoint large property, lessor’s risk only, and habitational remain particular challenges.

Educational classes, which the member survey ranked as the number one member benefit, were discussed by the group.  When asked about the main driver of value in education 71% of the attendees said they value learning and good content over simply obtaining CE credits. However, nearly all participants said they do not have a professional development plan for employees to help guide which classes would serve them best in their current role and for professional growth.  This was an area they felt the association could help provide direction. When not utilizing the associations education resources, members commonly utilize carrier educational offerings.

The education needs within the agency continue to be mixed with technical coverage proficiency, soft skills like time management, and sales development being primary needs.  Opinions on the importance designation programs were mixed. Many put the priority on a learning pathway of acquiring knowledge from quality content over the designation. But some felt larger customers may recognize and value designations. All had concerns about the cost of the designations.

There were three primary areas where members could use help when it comes to agency operations. These include developing procedures and workflows, strategic planning, and hiring and talent development. When it comes to producer management and accountability, many attendees liked the idea of creating a mentoring program where producers or account manager could have periodic calls and check-ins with an experienced insurance professional. This could reduce the burden on the agency owners in helping employee’s problem solve and develop professionally. In addition, some of the back-office support challenges agencies are experiencing include reviewing policies and endorsements for accuracy, quoting renewals, and certificates of insurance.

We appreciate all those that participated in the focus group.  The information learned is useful better understanding the changing needs of members.

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