NU Online News Service, April 16, 10:38 a.m. EDT

The Commercial Insurance Agency of the Year Award program, run for the past eight years exclusively by National Underwriter, has been expanded and is being managed in partnership for the first time with its sister publication, American Agent & Broker, with entries due by July 1.

Both publications are part of Summit Business Media’s Property & Casualty Magazine Group.

In past years, NU editors, working in conjunction with outside judges from the industry, would give out awards to three agencies–with one named the year’s “Champion” and the other two receiving an Honorable Mention.

This year, NU and AA&B editors will work in tandem with industry judges to cite one organization as the overall 2010 “Commercial Insurance Agency of the Year,” but will also hand out four additional “Commercial Agency Awards for Excellence” to recognize organizations doing an outstanding job in “Sales and Marketing,” “Customer Service,” “Technology and Operations,” as well as “Recruitment and Training.”

The major objective of the award program remains the same–to shine a national spotlight on agencies that serve as role models for their peers. To that end, the winning agencies will be profiled in the Oct. 4 cover story of NU, as well as in the November issue of AA&B.

Principals from the winning agencies will also participate in a roundtable discussion on “The Future of the Independent Agent,” hosted by the two publications, with edited highlights appearing in the Nov. 2 edition of NU and the December issue of AA&B.

For your agency to be considered, you must send in a completed entry form (including essay questions about the agency’s operations and approach in the various award categories), along with a sample proposal for a new or renewal account so the judges can see how an agency positions itself to buyers.

Although a third-party nomination is not required to enter the award program, NU and AA&B welcome nominations from insurance carriers or others doing business with independent agencies to call our attention to worthy candidates. Nominations are due by May 15. (See the entry material for further details.)

Agencies will be judged based on a variety of factors, including:

o Growth and development.

o Management of client relationships.

o Technology aptitude and efficiency.

o Innovative solutions to sales challenges.

o Projection and maintenance of brand identity.

To receive a copy of the award program’s rules and an entry form, e-mail sfriedman@sbmedia.com. Entries are due by July 1.