Quest for Personal Lines Begins Anew


Project CAP digital marketing services and consumer portal make debut in 2012.

Three out of four consumers do research online before buying insurance. That’s up from 61% just a few years ago. Are your consumers finding you online?

The independent agency distribution channel faces challenges today not just from traditional competitors but from structural changes to the insurance industry marketplace. Digital marketing is no longer just a good idea, it is an essential part of doing business when (according to ComScore) close to 75% of consumers go online before buying insurance. Concepts such as search engine optimization and being liked on Facebook have replaced traditional marketing models in both importance and effectiveness in building a book.

The challenge for the independent agency channel is seen most clearly in its personal lines market share, which sagged from 35.9% in 2005 to 34.3% in 2009. Regaining market share is vital to the future of the independent agency channel since every point of personal lines market share equals approximately $2.8 billion in net premium, based on A.M. Best Co. data.

Get the Point in Personal Lines
Personal lines represents a huge market. Personal auto alone now constitutes approximately one-third of the entire property-casualty pie.

One percentage point of market share in personal lines is now worth approximately $2.8 billion in net premium. Independent agents need to team up to “get that point” and recapture market share. That single point also adds up to $300 million in annual agency commissions.

The Big “I” is leading a sustained, concentrated effort to support independent agents in their collective effort to recapture market share in personal lines. This effort includes implementing a digital marketing strategy to help agents reach today’s consumers in the places they are researching and shopping for personal lines coverage.

“The Big ‘I’ understands that the status quo in personal lines is not acceptable for independent agencies,” says Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” president & CEO. “We must do business the way consumers want to do business. We are leaving a lot of good business on the table because consumers cannot find independent agencies online.”

As the New Year begins, this effort is coming to fruition and is poised for implementation. Through a new initiative known as Project CAP, Big “I” member agents in 2012 will be able to access:

New digital marketing offerings through Project CAP’s Industry Services (launching in Q1 2012), designed exclusively for Big “I” member agents to be more visible and accessible to insurance consumers in their local markets.

A Consumer Portal where insurance shoppers (launching in July 2012) can find an agent, look at agency profiles, find information resources about insurance, compare auto rates and coverages and get quotes from agents.

Website Offers Digital Marketing Strategy and Services
Scheduled for initial rollout in early 2012, a new Industry Services website ( provides digital marketing services for independent agencies as well as carriers. It will be an internal industry Web solution for agencies to gain access to digital marketing tools, business intelligence, training, systems and services they need to build their brands and enhance their online presence.

From introductory self-instruction offerings to advanced outsourced services done by professionals, each element of Project CAP’s digital marketing solutions will help agencies develop marketing strategies that compete effectively in local online markets while reinforcing national brand values.

Project CAP’s Industry Services digital marketing programs also will prepare participating agencies to manage prospect relationships generated through the new Consumer Portal once it is active later in 2012.

Together with the Consumer Portal, the unparalleled resources available to agencies and carriers will help drive Project CAP’s “national strategy of marketing locally” for the independent agency channel.

Independent agents can sign up now for a wide range of digital marketing training, products and services at

Endorsed by IIABA and Trusted Choice®, Project CAP agency marketing programs feature a full set of tools, technologies, strategies and tactics agents can apply immediately to increase their digital marketing expertise and dominate their target markets.

Choices range from a basic, do-it-yourself digital marketing package offered at no additional charge to IIABA agencies, to comprehensive website development and digital marketing programs that include a full suite of professional services for additional cost.

Given the diversity of experience and knowledge among independent agencies, Project CAP has designed a range of digital marketing packages to fit the broad range of agencies—no matter how they are currently using digital marketing. The menu includes:

  • Complete turnkey packages for agencies that want to get started right away without customizing.
  • Packages for agencies that can work on a do-it-yourself basis.
  • Premium packages for agencies that want to take a “done for you” approach.

Pricing varies by package. Contact Project CAP directly for information, including the latest in carrier-sponsored agency programs.

Agencies do not need to participate in Project CAP agency digital marketing programs in order to participate in Project CAP’s Consumer Portal. However, those agencies that employ the digital marketing services provided through Project CAP’s Industry Services will be better prepared to manage portal leads and better equipped to generate greater online marketing results on their own. Additionally, insights and data gleaned from the Consumer Portal will give agencies that use Project CAP’s digital marketing services an edge.

Project CAP also is offering insurance carriers a range of business intelligence services.

Even if agencies are not ready to participate at this point, they can sign up for regular program updates and announcements at the Industry Services website or

Consumer Portal Set for Summer Launch

Industry buzz already surrounds the fact that Project CAP has been researching and developing a national Web portal. This Consumer Portal is slated to launch in July 2012. Designed and built by some of the best minds in both the insurance industry and Internet marketing, this new website will address the insurance customer’s collective desire for knowledge, choice and comprehensive service.

While some other online options may also offer consumer research and rate comparisons, none present the unique combination of benefits that will be available in the Consumer Portal. The portal will provide consumers with the capability to select an independent agent who will advocate on their behalf, to evaluate dozens of insurance companies and products, and to buy insurance from an agent.

Grounded in the strategy and spirit of Trusted Choice®, this unique consumer resource will allow participating IIABA agencies to gain exclusive, real-time access to consumer leads, inquiries and activity.

The basic resources and services of Project CAP’s two powerful initiatives will be available at no additional charge to members of IIABA and Trusted Choice®. Agencies can choose from a range of enhanced digital marketing offerings and professional services for an additional cost.

Join the Cause

With professional and financial support from a number of national and regional carriers, Big “I” association leaders created a new entity to champion agents’ cause and advance visibility with today’s consumers. Now it’s your turn. Join the cause—to “get the point.” Project CAP’s national strategy of marketing locally is designed with independent agents in mind, to help them sustain and grow their business in personal lines.

Visit and learn more about the initiative. Together, independent agents and IIABA can raise a collective voice, elevate the independent agency channel and recapture a share of personal lines.


by Rick Morgan senior vice president of Aartrijk.