A few years ago, Becky Grosso and Jeff Foy in our Manchester, New Hampshire, office saw a car crash into a gas pump across the street. Without any hesitation, they ran over and rescued an unconscious man and his granddaughter from the burning vehicle.
Were they superheroes like the ones we see in movies or just two ordinary people doing what anyone else would do? At a ceremony at the statehouse in Concord, where they were honored along with dozens of other first responders from across the state, Becky simply said she was glad to be of help. Other citizen-heroes who had saved lives echoed the same sentiment. “We just did what we thought was right,” they said.
I know that’s what James Foy, the founder of my family’s independent agency, would have done. The Foy family motto from old English times is “deeds not words.” And isn’t that what you would expect, too, from Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or Black Panther? Superheroes exemplify and inspire us to be our best. They use their super powers to save lives and better our world.
I believe independent agents are champions for their clients in the best superhero tradition. The only difference is that they’re not comic-book characters. They’re the real deal. They save real lives and make a difference in real communities. As a tribute to independent agents, I asked the staff at Foy Insurance to think about the things we do every day that go above and beyond what a customer might expect.
Here are six things independent agents do that make them superheroes in my book:
- Agents protect people. Like Spider-Man, we spin a web of protection around our clients. We continually search for the right marketplace for the risk and have the insured’s best interest at heart year after year without having to be prompted. We educate ourselves, as the market and products are constantly changing, to provide our clients with the best coverage at the lowest cost. Like Wonder Woman with her lasso of truth, we work hard to educate our clients about insurance and how it can best protect them. We have open and honest conversations about what our clients need and show genuine care in protecting them and their interests to provide them with peace of mind.
- Agents advocate on behalf of consumers. Independent agents are legendary for their power to get things done in state legislatures and on Capitol Hill. Like the Justice League, they work tirelessly to make sure consumers get a fair shake. They lobby their representatives to ensure appropriate coverages are available and the products they sell are the best they can be. For example, legislation signed into law a few years ago extending the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) program and establishing the National Association of Registered Agents and Brokers (NARAB II) represented a huge victory for insurance consumers and small businesses. Independent insurance agents are the ones who made that legislation possible, along with many other protections over the years.
- Agents come to the rescue of their clients. Whenever a community has a disaster, who helps rebuild homes, businesses and lives? Insurance
agents. The insurance agent and the adjuster are there 24 hours a day to help. When there is a personal tragedy, agents are there for their clients to pick up the pieces after a car accident or a fire. We help our clients get new vehicles, find temporary lodging or secure a generator or water after a disaster. When a shocked and devastated client asks, “What’ll we do?” it’s the agent who responds by immediately getting them a rental car or booking a motel room. When the claims process becomes onerous, we’re there to help, too. Like Superman, we show up when they most need assistance. We don’t ask for anything in return. We just do what’s best for the client.
- Agents are heroes to their communities. Who do you see in your community every day at the blood drive, the food pantry or Habitat for Humanity project? Who serves on local civic boards or on the city council? Who organizes coat drives, sponsors sports teams or supports local charities? Insurance agents! Each year, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America recognizes outstanding community service through the Dan Fulwider Award. Dan was a real-life hero in his community. He volunteered as an assistant boys’ basketball coach; he was active in the National Eagle Scout Association; he was involved in the Iowa State Alumni Association; and he was an active member of his church. He passed away after a valiant battle with cancer, but not before inspiring thousands of agents and everyone he encountered to live a life of service. As Wonder Woman says, “Govern yourselves with love, kindness and service to others.” That was Dan and most of the agents I know.
- Agents have super powers to find coverage. Independent agents go way beyond what a client might experience with a direct carrier. With our knowledge of the market and the close relationships we’ve forged with dozens of companies, we can help consumers get coverage when they’ve been turned down elsewhere. I can’t tell you how many times my agency has helped customers get coverage when they were declined or canceled by their company. Like Professor X, the leader of the X-Men, independent agents have the uncanny ability to see where others can’t. We know where to go to place the coverage and get the best rates. By the same token, we work with clients to get a claim covered versus their having to fend for themselves when they file a claim with a direct writer.
- Agents have a strong moral code. As Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben says in Spider-Man, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Agents believe in doing the right thing for their customers and their communities. We succeed when our customers succeed. Like superheroes, we don’t use our powers for our own advancement; rather, we use our powers to help others. Nothing makes me prouder than when my agency is able to transform someone’s life. Getting customers what they need to move through a painful period in their life, to recover or to rebuild — that’s what this business is all about. As Commissioner Gordon tells Batman, “You’re going to make a difference. A lot of times it won’t be huge, it won’t be visible even. But it will matter just the same.”
So I say, hats off to the independent agents, the real superheroes of the insurance world! ■
Michael J. Foy is president of Foy Insurance Group in Exeter, New Hampshire
Article posted on March 16th in The Standard.