We’ve all been to conferences and conventions where we don’t know anyone, the hotel is in a boring place, and the whole affair costs an arm and a leg.
Pacific Interstate Insurance Brokers (PIIB) does things a little differently.
The most recent convention, held this spring, was in Napa, CA. PIIB makes a point of holding its conventions in places people actually want to go. While attendees have to pay for their own transportation and lodging, everything else is covered.
A cluster group, PIIB hosts conventions twice a year, attended by a majority of the agents and brokers in the network. The spring convention is the big one, though, because it features a draw that can’t be beat: CEO Larry Manning hands out the annual profit-sharing checks.
While members certainly don’t need to come to the convention to get their checks, it is a tradition they seem to like.
“They like to come,” said Tracy Ryan, who handles marketing and agency relations for PIIB. “It’s like a family reunion.”
The convention also features a tradeshow, with the 40-45 insurers contracted to do business with the network each having a booth. Ryan said PIIB gets lots of calls from insurers who want to be part of the network, but she said that PIIB rarely takes on a new company at this point. “If we bring in more companies that write the same business, it just spreads it. We grow through adding agencies.”
She said PIIB brings in 20-30 new agencies a year, working mostly with agencies in the Western US, reaching as far east as Texas. PIIB was founded in 1994 when 5 independent agents got together in order to write with more companies than they could do individually, “and it just took off from there,” Ryan said.
In addition to the convention, brokerages are drawn to PIIB because of the 90% profit-share, and the fact that they are free to leave the network anytime and take their book of business with them, she said.