Former PIA Oregon/Idaho President Peter Ball is retiring. A longtime PIA member, Peter owned and operated Corvallis Insurance Services in Corvallis, Oregon and served as the Oregon-Idaho PIA Western Alliance affiliate chapter’s president in 2010-2011.
He also served on the board of directors for many years and was deeply involved in the association’s Government Relations Committee which oversees PIA Oregon/Idaho’s lobbying efforts.
Peter Ball — obviously — loves the PIA and all it does on behalf of independent agents and the independent agency system. The number-one thing the association does best is give agents the ability to network. It’s a gift from the PIA that he’s going to continue to use even in retirement.
“I don't want to — and won’t — give up relationships with the people I've known for years. I treasure those relationships. It’s why I joined the PIA. Since retiring I’ve had calls from several friends in the business saying I’ll be missed. I treasure those relationships and the relationships I’ve developed over the years. I'll make a point to stay in touch with them and swing by once in a while, visit them, have lunch. There are a lot of good people in this business and the PIA brought them to me.”
This is the positive he points out about the PIA and one that younger people who are now in the business might want to focus upon. “Everybody wants to think their problems are just their problems but that's not true. Others have the same challenge so you don't have to reinvent the wheel,” he said.
His advice to the next generation of insurance agents is to join organizations like PIA. “Get involved and participate. I’ve been on many boards and organizations. Give a little bit and you get much more in return. Your involvement makes the organization stronger and without people getting involved it’s hard to build value for the organization.”
The PIA he said is a wonderful organization. “The People involved in professional organizations tend to be more of the big picture type. Those deeply involved are more about keeping the association viable and valuable than being of the ‘what's in it for me now’ type. That kind of person won't last in insurance anyway. From a personality standpoint, most insurance agents are very personable. However, we all have our weaknesses so we need support and networking. Connection with an association like the PIA is one way to get that support.”
As for the industry, after 45-plus years in insurance, Peter Ball told Weekly Industry News that he believes the industry is still in great shape. “I think the industry as viable as it ever was. It’s not without challenges like those of direct writers and direct sellers like GEICO and Progressive. That part of the industry has changed it quite a bit. However, the customer response to service and the personal approach of an agent and an agency is still strong.”
He does — however — worry a bit about the shrinking number of independent insurance agents. “In my microcosm, there were 15 independent agents in Corvallis when I first started here. Now there are three. The town has changed since then but not that much.”
Peter Ball also wants to see more young people enter the business. As he sees it, there aren’t enough education programs in colleges in this region to expose today’s youth to insurance and the incredible possibilities of a career in the business.
That said, he believes the flexibility of an independent agent career will eventually appeal to today’s youth. “It's been a great career financially and lifestyle wise. From that perspective being an independent insurance agent has a big upside. It is a great career path for those who want to control their own destiny. There’s lots of opportunity for flexibility that you don't have in other jobs,” he said.
Peter Ball — as noted earlier — will miss his interaction with the PIA and the member agents of the PIA. He’d like to stay connected. “We [the PIA] need to make an opportunity of some kind to keep our ex-agents and those retiring involved. That can be done by inviting some retired members to trade shows and events. It will be a great way to keep the legacy going for young people.”