Canter Is IIABA’s First Woman President

By Mark E. Ruquet

NU Online News Service, Sept. 25, 10:57 a.m. EDT, Las Vegas?Louise “BeBe” Canter was installed yesterday as president of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America- the first woman to hold that post in the group’s 107-year history.

Ms. Canter, a senior vice president at Patterson/Smith Associates in Falls Church, Va., took office at the closing session of the association’s 2003 Las Vegas convention and InfoXchange. She becomes the 99th president of the association and will serve as president for a term of one year succeeding W. Cloyce Anders.

Speaking with National Underwriter, she said the two areas where she sees the greatest challenges for the insurance industry are attracting new workers and making good use of technology.

“Bringing young people in, getting them excited and keeping them [is a major challenge,” she said, noting that the current agency force needs younger blood in its ranks. “Insurance is not a career that one naturally gravitates toward, unless you grow up with it. How do you channel that interest to the younger generation coming in is a major challenge.”

On technology, Ms. Canter said the challenge is communicating with the membership. With so much information coming into agents each day, it is difficult for the association to get its message to its members heard. IIABA needs to find new ways to get through to its agents so they have a greater appreciation for the value their membership brings to them.

In her inauguration address Ms. Canter said, “We are a large and growing organization, with several separate for-profit and not-for-profit corporations. My goal in the coming year is to monitor and provide oversight for this growth.”

She said the association must continue its efforts to persuade Congress that the answer to fixing the regulatory issues in the U.S. is by improving state regulations, not federal oversight.

Ms. Canter told agents they need to do more to bring younger members of the industry into the association and to support the InVEST program (which teaches high school and college students about the insurance industry) by volunteering their time for the education of young people.

“I challenge each of you to use the InVEST program as a way to give something back to our industry,” she said in her address. “Volunteer your time and help perpetuate our industry by opening up the world of insurance to as many young people as possible.”