After Progressive’s announcement that it was appointing independent agents in Massachusetts, Agency Checklists contacted Steve Pichette, Regional Sales Manager at Progressive to find out more about what the insurer offers agents as well as what it looks for when considering an agency. Mr. Pichette, who oversees a six state territory for the insurer, has over 14 years experience in the New England insurance industry. Mr. Pichette also spearheaded Progressive’s entry into the Massachusetts’s independent agency channel in May 2014 with the introduction of its personal auto product.
As the regional sales manager for Progressive, what are your main functions and responsibilities?
I manage Progressive’s agency sales within the six New England states. I have an experienced sales team in place with the primary focus of cultivating strong agency partnerships, serving as business consultants and ultimately meeting the needs of our agents to help them grow their books of business profitably.
Tell us a little bit about Progressive’s history with independent agents
Agents have been an integral part of our company, which dates back to 1937. We have more than 35,000 independent agents countrywide, making us the largest carrier in the channel. In fact, we have been consumers’ number one choice for personal auto through independent agents for more than 20 years.
Has Progressive always worked with independent agents? If not, since when?
Progressive began its business by working with independent agents and the channel remains a vital part of the organization’s success.
How much business does Progressive write through appointed agents?
More than half of our business is sold through independent agents and we continue to make investments to provide our agents with the products and services needed to help them grow.
What is the reasoning behind Progressive’s decision to appoint new agents in Massachusetts at the present time?
Since 2008, we’ve had existing relationships with Massachusetts agents who sell Progressive Commercial Auto and Special Lines products. Our goal has always been to provide Massachusetts agents another competitive option for auto which happens to be a national leading brand – Progressive is the 4th largest auto insurer in country – and a full complement of products. To us, it is a natural progression since we operate and sell personal auto through agents throughout rest of country.
How many agents do you expect to appoint over the course of the next 18 months?
We don’t have a specific number of appointments we’re looking to make, but we are open to any Massachusetts agent that is looking to build a productive partnership with us. Progressive offers competitive rates, superior claims handling and technology that makes quoting and binding fast and easy backed by a recognized national brand. We also offer agents co-brandable sales materials and cross-sell tools to help with marketing to customers.
How does Progressive measure up as an agency based writer?
Progressive has been the largest writer of personal auto in the country since 1992. We are represented by more than 35,000 independent agents countrywide.
Are there any specific areas in the Commonwealth where Progressive would like to see more growth?
We’re not focused on any specific geographic location, but we are excited to bring some new offerings to market, like our industry-leading usage-based insurance program, Snapshot. Participating in this voluntary program allows drivers to earn discounts based on their safe driving habits. More than 2.5 million customers have participated in the program with an average savings of about $150 a year.
What would an ideal agent and agency look like for a Progressive appointment?
We’re looking for agencies that are aligned with our aspirations of growth, are looking to partner with a national brand and value both policy and claims service.
What are three things that an interested agent should know about the Progressive appointment process?
For a personal auto appointment, the process is streamlined with an online questionnaire, survey and sales interview.
As you know WinRater is what most MA agents use. What is Progressive’s status with WinRater as well as Real Time?
Progressive is real time with WinRater
What would you say are the key features and benefits for agents in selling Progressive’s products?
Our national brand has successfully generated new business for Massachusetts agents. Our usage-based insurance program, Snapshot, is the one of the biggest consumer discount we can offer and our Massachusetts agents are selling more than a third of Progressive auto policies with Snapshot. We are committed to providing superior claims service and we have three claims offices across the state, including a Service Center in Westwood. We have unparalleled ease of use through leading technology and we continue to improve the quoting and servicing processes on our proprietary online portal, ForAgentsOnly.com. Overall, we’re committed to supporting Massachusetts agents with proven business solutions and simple tools they can use to attract more customers and serve them well.
What should agents know about any differences in the products Progressive offers as a direct writer versus those it offers through its appointed agents.
The policies offered to customers through our agents are the same we offer through direct.
Are there any additional product lines or endorsements that are unique to Progressive that an agent should consider?
In addition to personal auto, customers can take advantage of Snapshot and bundling options, including a homeowners product provided and serviced by property insurer, American Strategic Insurance (ASI). With Progressive’s recent acquisition of a controlling interest in ASI’s parent company, ARX Holding Corp., it plans to provide agents with improved home and auto bundling options through this A.M. Best “A” rated carrier. Additional product lines include motorcycles, RVs, boats, commercial auto and more, providing agents with a breadth of products to meet customers’ needs. We are excited to also bring our Progressive umbrella to Massachusetts down the road.
Are there any additional services that Progressive offers that Mass. Agents might like to know about?
We offer our agents hundreds of marketing solutions through our Brand Express portal which includes various cobranding, online (SEO, local search), direct mail, and signage options.
How would an agent who is interested in writing insurance with you get in touch with you?
Any Massachusetts agent that is interested in reaching out to us should simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org we’ll follow up. Again, we’re thrilled to be bringing a leading auto product to the agents in the state and we hope they take advantage of this offering for their customers.