Membership to the PIA is vital to so many insurers. This article, written by Gene Galligan, is an excellent example of how his membership to the PIA helped save his agency in a time when catastrophe ripped (quite literally, as you’ll read) through his hometown, and he almost lost everything he had built.
THE DATE MAY 4, 1989, will be etched in my memory forever. On that day my home town Monroe, Louisiana, and Ouachita Parish were hit by a catastrophic hail storm. We did not have pea, dime, quarter baseball or even softball-sized hail; we had jagged pieces with sharp edges that ripped and tore through buildings and automobiles. That evening, we had torrential rains that flooded areas and entered homes through the damaged roofs. My agency sustained losses 10 times my volume.
Within a week, my major carrier at the time announced that they were ceasing to write new business and would leave the state within 6 months. As time passed, every company that we represented canceled contracts. We were not alone, other agents our size were experiencing the same fate, and many were selling their agencies to the larger agents and working for those agencies. We had received numerous calls and visits about selling our agency.
At that time, we had been a member of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of Louisiana (IIABL) for 15 years and had recently joined the PIA. The offers to purchase had come from several IIABL members, with the quip that the one man shops were a dinosaur and fast becoming obsolete. I had contacted numerous companies about planting with our agency, but had been unsuccessful.
Then I attended our local PIA chapter luncheon and another agent asked if we had been able to locate another market. I told him “no,” and he advised that if he heard anything he would let us know. He did more; he spoke to his friend who managed a general agency. After the meeting, his friend approached me and advised that he wanted to come by my office immediately after the luncheon. I assumed that my contract with them was going to be canceled. Instead, Mickey Slaughter, who was the general manager of Southern States General Agency, said he had heard about our problem. He told me that he had talked to Trinity Universal Insurance Company and that a contract was in place and we could start binding business with them immediately.
Because of our PIA affiliations, we were able to continue in business; from there we were able to plant with other companies. Twenty six years later, we are still in business and still a member of PIA! From those acts, I realized that PIA agents are not just competitors but part of a family, and I needed to be an active member in that family.
We would like to hear your success stories as well. If you have a testimonial about how the PIA helped you, please E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.