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HISTORY OF THE INDEPENDENT INSURANCE AGENTS OF AUSTIN

A statewide association of insurance agents existed in Texas prior to 1900.  0. H. Millican of Austin was State President in 1908 and 1909. The Austin Association was organized in 1926 with A. H. Osborn as president. The name used was Austin Insurance Exchange. This new group was incorporated as of October 19, 1928, and adopted its first by-laws in May, 1931.

Dues when C. A. Schutze, Sr. joined the association in 1934 were $15.00 per year for the local and $10.00 per year for the State. However, membership in the State association was not a requirement for membership in the local organization.

Original purpose of the organization as expressed in the bylaws was that of "mutual help and protection of its members in their work and service". Education was a number one priority. However, the focus was on stock company agents versus mutual agents. No mutual companies could be represented by member agencies. In the beginning and for a number of years the legislative arena had to do with opposing "flexible" (now known as "open") rating. This was almost a biennial battle between the agents and company groups.

A significant practice early in the development of local insurance agent associations was the handling of public insurance business. This was generally done through "placement boards". By having public business handled in this fashion everyone benefited. Placement of insurance for cities and counties was taken out of politics. Public officials avoided the harassment of a number of agents seeking the public business, and the possibility of an incompetent agent ending up with the public business was reduced. A very strong placement board was being operated in San Antonio.  Austin also adopted the concept, though not all local political bodies participated.

Mutual agents might have complained about being "cut out" of the commissions on public business, but they had no active Austin Association and by Texas law, Governmental agencies could not become "member" in mutual associations and thus not buy insurance from mutual companies.

In the early years of the association, as Austin and Travis County grew, the commissions from public business encouraged agents to become members. In the 1950's it was decided that the commission income should be used for the public benefit instead of being distributed to the individual members for their own use. Dues were increased to exceed the annual distribution of commissions. The funds so generated were then available to support the driver education programs in the public schools, traffic safety, arson prevention and other similar activities.

In 1957, Drex Foreman, who had been Executive Director of the State Association for thirty years, with offices in Fort Worth, retired. Forrest S. Pearson, who was very active at the State level, suggested to C. A. Schutze, Jr., then local president, that our local association make a proposal to the State Association that it relocate in Austin. Austin offered to pay a part of the salary of one of the State Association staff who could serve as a part-time secretary for the local group. The offer was accepted and the State Association moved to 1010 Brazos with Claude Webster as Executive Director.

Following a court case which involved the New Orleans agents' association and possible antitrust complications, the by-laws of the association were amended to remove the requirement that agents represent only stock companies. In the 1940's, the association had changed its name from Austin Insurance Exchange to the Austin Association of Insurance Agents. In the 1980's, after the establishment of "Big I" as a recognized symbol, the name was again changed, this time to the Independent Insurance Agents of Austin. With the growth of Austin, a new era had begun.
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