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Agents graduate from Nationwide’s Human Services Agent Certification Program

Education program helps sharpen independent agents’ skills

It takes a special set of skills to run a business in service to others. Likewise, it takes a special set of skills to insure one. Ed Barclay, vice president at Ward Insurance, ought to know. For more than 25 years, Ed and his company have been serving nonprofit clients in Eugene, Oregon.

“To be successful in the human services space, you really need to understand the client and their particular needs, because they can be so different depending on the organization’s mission,” Barclay said.

From daycares to senior centers, and food banks to emergency response centers, the human services field presents unique needs and challenges but also offers strong growth potential for committed insurance agents. The nonprofit sector alone contributed an estimated $1 trillion to the U.S. economy in 2016.

To protect such organizations, agents need to not only be experts in insurance, but also the operational, legal and regulatory concerns of the human services and nonprofit fields.

“We have a team dedicated to working with nonprofit and human services clients. That’s all they do,” said Barclay. “Anybody can quote a policy, but are they familiar with your processes like intaking or transporting patients, the associated exposures, and the combination of products and loss prevention services to help address them?”

To help provide that knowledge and training to independent agents, Nationwide began the Human Services Agent Certification Program. Established in 2019, the program consists of a series of training sessions that address important risks, solutions and trends in the industry, and seeks to provide selected agents with new knowledge, sales tactics and collaboration opportunities to help grow their business with human services clients.

“This program is a natural extension of the Nationwide culture of giving back in the communities where we live and work,” said Mark Berven, Nationwide’s Property & Casualty president and COO. “We designed the program based on agent feedback, and by combining loss control, claims, marketing and underwriting in one program, we’re able to deliver content independent agents need to meet the unique needs of their customers.”

In a virtual session and ceremony held on November 19, Berven recently recognized Ed and more than 50 other independent agents who graduated from the second year of the program. One year after the 2019 pilot, early results demonstrate elevating technical expertise and specialized knowledge can translate to sales growth as 54% of the agents who completed the program saw a 99% increase in new direct written premium for Nationwide.

“Nationwide takes a holistic approach with this program, beginning with shared expertise to help agents better understand human services clients and speak the lingo, followed by important knowledge on the right products and how they fit,” said Barclay. “The advice for packaging those core components hand in hand with topnotch servicing has proven invaluable.”

Due to COVID-19, the certification program is currently being conducted online, but the change has also made it more accessible to busy agents. Enthusiasm for the program continues to grow and Nationwide offers the classes to agents free of charge.

Barclay found the insights so helpful, he decided to take the course twice. “It served as a great refresher and I heard new stuff to translate to our business,” he said.

“The Human Services certification is one of many ways we continue to focus on our agents’ growth,” said Berven. “We’re committed to agents’ ongoing success.”

For more information on the Human Services Certification Program, contact Nationwide’s Specialty Care team. Learn more about this unique industry by visiting Nationwide’s new Commercial Insight Center.