InsureZone, Inc. was started in 1999 with the goal of creating a real-time, multi-carrier, insurance quoting tool that also provided the ability to purchase a policy via the internet. The result is a propriety technology platform that allows the user to enter one application and receive back multiple, bindable quotes from national carriers in just a few minutes.
InsureZone Inc., is a venture-funded company that was started in 1999. Our goal was to bring technology to an area of the insurance industry where speed and efficiency would open up opportunities in both commercial and personal lines insurance. By creating a COMPARITIVE QUOTING SERVICE and other tools to quote, sell and service an insurance policy online, InsureZone allows a business owner or a consumer to purchase insurance from multiple companies, via the internet. InsureZone’s proprietary technology platform now encompasses thirteen different brandable tools.
InsureZone’s original marketing strategy was to leverage the brand names of banks and financial institutions that wanted to sell auto and homeowners insurance through their websites . As a startup it was not possible to spend significant marketing dollars, so InsureZone signed up marketing partners that included: Citibank, Chase, Wells Fargo, and Bank One.
In early 2001, the original business plan was amended. Our marketing partners generated few leads and those that came in the door were shoppers, but not buyers. While the consumer wanted to shop on the internet, the buying decision was being made in conjunction with their trusted advisor, a traditional insurance agent. As a result, InsureZone adjusted its strategic plan to focus on providing service to insurance agents rather than trying to sell directly to the consumer.
InsureZone purchased AgentSecure, a company started in 2000 by Ed Gillman as part of his Atlanta-based retail agency, Gillman Insurance Group. AgentSecure was a wholesaler that was providing market access to small and rural agents in a partnership with CNA and the Big I of Georgia. With InsureZone’s help, AgentSecure expanded its relationships to include 37 Big I partners and signed up 3,000 agency members.
The technology platform was stabilized, and with 4 national carriers being quoted electronically the company had its first opportunity to focus on the operational efficiencies made possible by real-time connections to the carriers.
Since the mid-2000s, InsureZone revamped its website and added an Agent Dashboard for the efficient delivery and management of submissions, quotes, and bound policies. Enhancements include more carriers, online reporting for our agents, automated email delivery of reports, creation of Clowser (our carrier appetite and underwriting management system), automatic re-quoting of policies that did not sell in the prior year, a revamped payment system to enable increased flexibility in how an agent pays us, and a new self-service area for agent membership tracking.
2006 enhancements included the addition of our 11th carrier. InsureZone also now had four personal lines carriers with whom we were electronically quoting and writing policies. We also added a Quick Quote tool for personal and commercial lines which was revolutionary for our service offering. With just 24 questions on an application which took only 3-4 minutes to complete, InsureZone enabled a user to provide a premium indication for a commercial risk while the customer was on the phone. This lead to deals with I-Bank, Insurance.com, and IMMS/Group 500 which added over 1,000 agents to our network.
In 2010, InsureZone bought CMS Agency, Inc., a Nevada based wholesaler and added 267 new agencies to the AgentSecure family. Later than same year, we started InsureZone Direct as a retail agency cluster (Network). This became the third division of the company and today we have 90 agencies that are part of InsureZone Direct, and It’s expanding rapidly.
Our Technology group continues to impress. In early 2013 we surpassed 35,000 agencies using the platform and we have quoted over $1.5BN in premium since we started. We currently have 17 commercial carriers and 7 personal lines carriers on our platform.
In early 2013, InsureZone partnered with Webcetera to leverage their connections to personal lines carriers. This partnership has enabled InsureZone to continue to expand its lead in the commercial insurance rating space while being able to access over 100 personal lines carriers from Webcetera. InsureZone now has the insurance industry’s first true rating platform incorporating both personal and commercial lines.
We have created some fabulous assets within InsureZone and we see huge upside over the next couple of years.
John Pergande | Founder and Chairman of the Board
John on the strategic changes at InsureZone:
"While technology is vital to the way in which the insurance industry works, what we found is that technology is not used well within the industry. InsureZone was created to bring operational efficiencies to certain areas of the lifecycle of an insurance policy. Our initial idea in 1999 was to be a white-labeled service provider to large financial institutions where InsureZone would not be required to build a brand, we could "borrow" the brand from customers like Citibank, Wells Fargo and Chase. What we found was that while customers were interested in shopping, the use of the internet to do research was not enough to disintermediate the relationship between insured and agent. As a result we shifted our business model to focus on providing service to insurance agents. The technology platform we have created is focused on the entire sales process required by an insurance agent and includes: sourcing leads, quoting policies, document management and retention, integration with agency management vendors and third party data sources, and handling first not of loss on claims. We have come a long way from our beginnings in 1999. Today our technology is used by more than 30% of the P&C agents in the U.S."
James Russell (Rusty) Reid | Board Member
Rusty on what led him to InsureZone:
"My approach has always been to take what I have, and reengineer it to make it work more successfully. When I came to Higginbotham, I deployed an aggressive growth strategy and built the infrastructure and incentives to support it. It's also my style to try to be on the forefront. As we built Higginbotham, we were well aware that deregulation would allow banks to get into the industry, and that the internet was going to play a role. So we started working with banks to be the sole provider of insurance products to their customers and with some large corporations to offer personal, auto, homeowners and umbrella coverage to their employees. The problem was finding an easy way to distribute those products. We needed a way, in essence, to look like that bank or that large corporation. InsureZone's technology platform provided that capability. So, when InsureZone came to us with the idea, it made a lot of sense to partner with them."
His hands-on managerial style makes John an accessible problem solver. Licensed to sell insurance in all 50 states, he understands the dynamics of personal, commercial and surplus lines from a broad perspective as well as the details. He also maintains the complex database system he designed to present a wide variety of policy and commission data to both internal and external customers.
We brought John in as CEO in 2003. However, he was not new to InsureZone, having served on the board following his involvement in our founding in 1999. The company was established to sell insurance online using an advanced e-commerce platform to manage the policy’s sale and service. Utilizing advanced technology is still the backbone of the sound business strategy that keeps InsureZone growing.
For the seven years prior to 2003, he was a general partner of Buena Venture Associates (BVA), a venture capital firm based in Fort Worth. Through BVA, John invested in and directed eight companies, some private and some public. The first acquisition resulted from a “negative goodwill” bid for Pyramid Services, a software company that specialized in workers compensation claims. That was 1996, and John had taken his first step into the insurance business – a life altering decision considering the dramatic growth of the online insurance service market.
Before getting involved in the insurance business, John worked in corporate finance at Electronic Data Systems and as a corporate banker for Citibank. After earning his Bachelor of Business Administration degree in Economics and Political Science from Yale University, his career started on the floor of the New York Futures Stock Exchange. Then, after two years trading stock options at the Chicago Board Options Exchange, he completed his Master’s degree in Business Administration at Northwestern University. His nonprofit interests include the STAR Scholarship Fund, the Boys & Girls Club of Fort Worth, and The Community Foundation; additionally, he performs fund-raising duties for the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Symphony. As a native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, it’s no surprise that he is a cheese head, AKA Packers fan.
We are thankful to have Ed’s insights, contagious enthusiasm and decades of insurance agency experience on board since 2001. In addition to his responsibilities overseeing the Membership Department, he maintains positive working relationships with our growing network of insurance carriers. During his travels, he makes a point of meeting new partners and when possible, assists with demonstrations of InsureZone’s technology to prospective clients.
He was named to his current position after negotiating InsureZone’s acquisition of AgentSecure in June 2001. He launched AgentSecure in 1999 as the internet version of the thriving brick and mortar agency he opened in 1993. Ed got started in the insurance industry as a producer for Seitlin & Co., the agency his family owns and operates in South Florida.
Ed holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from the University of Virginia, and a graduate diploma in insurance and risk management from the College of Insurance in New York City. He is a past officer and board member of several insurance industry councils and trade associations in the Southeast.
Senior Vice President
Always a top performer, Amy’s strengths in streamlining operations and improving workflow that continue to optimize our high growth environment earned her this title in 2012.With responsibility over both the Underwriting and Customer Service divisions, Amy has helped her staff develop the customer-first concept that reflects our goals as a company. Her decades of improving operations have contributed greatly to her ability to establish metrics and develop a plan of action that led to an unprecedented change in processing time for many transactional duties at InsureZone. Her recommendations to our Technology Team resulted in an enhanced platform that includes features that improve service levels and increase both agent and employee satisfaction.
Joe brings over 30 years of Insurance industry experience to InsureZone. Joe started his insurance career with the Guardian Life insurance company, in the employee benefits division. He was promoted to District Manager and was responsible for opening and managing the North Texas sales office. In 1999, Joe became a Partner in the BrooksBittner & Assoc. agency. The agency offered life, health, personal lines and commercial lines products. BrooksBittner sold to APEX Global Partners and Joe served as President of the small and mid-market division. Most recently Joe has been working as an independent business consultant, advising companies in a diversity of industries including Insurance brokerage, healthcare and oil and gas.
Accounting and Human Resources Manager
Yolanda joined InsureZone in July 2014 as an Accountant and was promoted to Accounting and Human Resources Manager in February 2015. In this role, she manages and oversees the company’s Accounting Department, which includes processing commissions, accounts payable, accounts receivable and tech billing amongst other things. She is also responsible for the Company’s Human Resources including payroll, employee benefits and relations.
Yolanda brings with her over 15 years of experience in Business Management working for an entrepreneur in Jacksonville, Florida. During that time, two Software Development companies were founded beginning with a staff of four and she helped grow these companies to over 180+ staff members in 6 different cities within 2 years. Yolanda proved to be a valuable asset taking on key administrative roles which included Accounting, Human Resources and Office Management, managing her roles and other administration staff members remotely for all locations.
Additionally, Yolanda has served in the position of Navy Command Ombudsman. This position, appointed by the commanding officer, serves as an information link between command leadership and Navy families. Ombudsmen also provide resource referrals when needed. They are instrumental in resolving family issues before the issues require extensive command attention.