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Following more than 35 years as a senior executive with four different P&C insurance organizations, including serving as CEO, I was offered the rare opportunity to run a midsize independent agency in northern Indiana. Although I had relied heavily on my grasp and knowledge of independent insurance agencies in building successful insurance companies, I didn’t realize how little I actually knew about life at the agency level.

After two years in my role as president & CEO of the Silveus Insurance Group’s P&C division, I feel as if I have completed an MBA degree in insurance-company operations. While some of my experiences have been affirmations of approaches I had experimented with in my years at carriers, other lessons have shown me that the importance I once placed on certain agency-company interactions was far greater—or smaller—than what is truly required or desired by agency principals and their organizations.

My recent experience has given me a heightened awareness of what agencies need and expect from their company partners. I have developed a lengthy list of “dos and don’ts” that, given the opportunity to return to the ranks of insurance-company executives, I would immediately implement—and I firmly believe these changes would fundamentally alter for the better the company’s strategic relationships with its independent-agency partners. Oh, to have been given this opportunity much earlier in my career.

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