Five Questions With: Mark A. Male

Mark A. Male is executive vice president and chief staff executive for the Rhode Island Association of Insurance Agents, the Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island, and the New England Association Services. His responsibilities for those organizations generally involve corporate management, governance, fiscal oversight and strategic vision.

Prior to assuming his leadership roles with the three professional associations starting in 2007, Male worked for Swiss Re Corp., where he served as senior vice president and sales leader. In that position, he oversaw sales of nearly $1 billion of direct written premium.

Prior to that, he held executive positions with GE Commercial Insurance, Westport Insurance Corp., and Employers Reinsurance Corp. He holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing from The Pennsylvania State University.

 

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PBN: How was the Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island created?

MALE: In April 1883, a number of property insurance agents gathered in Providence and agreed to work together to make and maintain appropriate property [insurance] rates in Providence. This was the first iteration of an [insurance] agents association in Rhode Island. Today’s association started in 1900 and remains dedicated to independent agents and ultimately their customers and clients.

PBN: What is your organization’s mission?

MALE: The mission of Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island is to enhance the competitive position and satisfy the business, professional, and educational and legislative interests of the members.

PBN: How did you come to the organization?

MALE: I previously served as the executive for the Pennsylvania association [of insurance agents] when I joined a GE reinsurance company in Kansas. In my travels, I came to Rhode Island in 1999 to attend the Independent Insurance Agents of Rhode Island annual convention.

I met my future wife at the event and moved here in 2005. When a vacancy occurred at the association, I was approached to gauge my interest to return to the association side of the industry. In 2007, I accepted an offer to become the executive vice president.

PBN: What are some predominant issues facing independent agents?

MALE: Insurance distribution is being impacted by some significant dynamics: mergers and acquisitions; and, the disrupters in the distribution channels. Both create unique agent challenges. Balancing attrition in agency numbers with no appreciable reduction in headcount challenges us to reinvent ourselves.

Encouraging new agency startups and evolving to redefine how we deliver service to existing members is our goal. A hallmark of independent agents is the customer relationship. We expect relationship management will trump any electronic relationships over time.

PBN: Who does your organization work with?

MALE: As advocates of independent insurance agents, we lobby at the Statehouse to protect our members and consumers against proposed legislation that would have an adverse impact.

Beyond monitoring legislation, we also work with the [state] Department of Business Regulation’s Insurance Division to provide insight and feedback on regulatory matters that affect agents, brokers and consumers. We look to engage everywhere insurance matters are being discussed to ensure the implications of decisions are understood.

Scott Blake is a PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@PBN.com.

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