Affiliate of the Year
Building trust through community involvement
Leeds-Grenville Insurance Brokers Association: Mary Rae Knapp, president, Brockville
London Insurance Brokers Association: Suzanne Pountney, president, London
Insurance Brokers Association of Waterloo Region: Melissa Snyder, president, Waterloo
For local insurance brokers, volunteerism and com- munity involvement are a fundamental part of the job. Participating in local events and donating time and money to important causes demonstrate a brokerage’s commitment to the community—and therefore, to its clients. The finalists for Affiliate of the Year have all spent significant time and energy supporting their communities and they’ve done so in a variety of ways.
Mary Rae Knapp, president of the Leeds-Grenville Insur- ance Brokers Association says her affiliate takes the theme, “Be a Broker, Be Involved,” very seriously. Knapp can list off many charities and events the member brokerages of her affiliate have volunteered with, including local fire and police services, RIDE programs and Relay for Life. “Our driving force, for certainly the next couple of years anyway, [is] to be out there, so that people see that brokers in their community are helping them and care for them and their causes,” she says.
Though the Leeds-Grenville Brokers Association supports many organizations, local causes are the most important to the affiliate. Knapp says that by supporting local initiatives, brokers get to know their clients better and also can promote their brokerages more effectively. “Volunteering at events near and dear to our clients’ hearts [goes] a lot further than thousands of dollars in advertising paid to newspapers, radio and marketing companies,” she says.
When there are so many worthy charities in need of sup- port, it’s often difficult for brokers to choose where to devote time, energy and resources. For this reason, Suzanne Pountney, president of the London Insurance Brokers Association (LIBA), says it makes sense for her affiliate to support those initiatives tied to the insurance industry. In addition to the charities that each member brokerage supports on its own, Pountney says supporting local insurance-related initiatives has become a top priority for her affiliate. LIBA currently sponsors the London Firefighters’ colouring books, which are handed out to children who visit the fire safety village. Affiliate members are also involved with Ontario Students Against Impaired Driving and LIBA is hoping to partner with local schools next year to encourage students to stop texting and driving. “Insurance-related initiatives give us the opportunity to show that we care about more than just collecting premiums,” she says. “We care about programs intended to keep our community safe and healthy.”
Attracting young people to the insurance industry is one of the big challenges facing independent brokerages and a challenge that Melissa Snyder, president of the Insurance Brokers Association of Waterloo Region is keenly aware of. When it comes to community involvement, her affiliate is focus- ing the majority of its attention on attracting and educating the next generation of brokers. “One of our biggest focuses is the Conestoga College Insurance Program,” says Snyder.
Copyright 2012 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the October 2012 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.