The Alexandria, Va.-based Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America announced today that The Hartford Financial Services Group has joined the independent agent branding program Trusted Choice.

IIABA, which founded the marketing effort in 2001, said the new member is the 49th company to join.

Neal Wolin, president and chief operating officer of The Hartford’s property and casualty operations, said, “We have always enormously valued our independent agents as strong partners, and we are building on that partnership by becoming part of Trusted Choice.

“This is an important way to make consumers more aware of the valuable service that independent agents and brokerage firms provide.”

Based in Hartford, Conn., The Hartford has approximately 31,000 employees and reported $2.9 billion in net income in 2007. The company provides automobile and homeowners’ insurance and business insurance for companies and institutions of all sizes. The company sells its property-casualty products through a network of independent agents.

“Having a recognized national brand such as The Hartford join Trusted Choice will help take this consumer brand to new heights,” said Robert A. Rusbuldt, IIABA president and chief executive officer.

Dave Evans, executive director of Trusted Choice, said The Hartford name carries influence.

In addition to the 49 companies, over 10,000 independent insurance agents have joined the branding program.