The new president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Louisiana (IIABL), Donelson Stiel, is a second generation insurance agent whose father started David H. Stiel Jr. Insurance in 1956 in Franklin.
Stiel succeeds Brenda Case, president/co-owner of Lowry-Dunham, Case and Vivien, who remains on the board of directors as the past president. Stiel is the 119th president of IIABL, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there was no installation ceremony because the annual convention was canceled again this year.
Stiel joined his father’s agency in 1980, and currently serves as the president of Stiel Insurance Group. The agency has grown to include 80 employees spread through eight locations in Baldwin, Franklin, Hammond, Houma, Lafayette, Metairie, Morgan City, and Bayou Vista. Two of his five children currently work for the agency in the Lafayette office.
When he first entered the insurance industry, Stiel worked a summer at Lloyd’s of London and attended the USF&G School of Insurance.
Stiel has served on agents’ advisory committees for various insurance companies. He served on the CNA Insurance Company Pacer Council Advisory Board on a state, regional and national level, having served as chairman of the state council. In addition, he served on the Allstate Northstar state advisory council as the state chairman.
He has served on the IIABL board since 2011, but has been active with the Big I for longer having served as the chairman of the Young Agents Committee in the 1980s. Through the years, Stiel has served on various committees for the state association and most recently chaired the Legislative Committee.
In addition to his volunteer service in the insurance industry, he served on the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District board of governors (Superdome Commission) under the administration of Governor M. J. “Mike Foster. During his time on the Superdome Commission, the Superdome Commission oversaw the construction of the New Orleans Arena, Zephyr Field (now the Gold Mine on Airline), John F. Alario Center, New Orleans Saints Office Complex, New Orleans Saints Practice Facility, and the expansion of the Pontchartrain Center.
He served as a commissioner and president of the Port of West St. Mary.
Stiel served on the St. Mary Chamber of Commerce and was chairman in 1987. In addition he was active with the Optimist Club of Franklin and is currently active with the Rotary Club of Franklin.
Stiel believes that the biggest threat to the independent agency system is finding the right technology that can help the small independent agency compete with the direct writers and online writers. “The roll out of Catalyit will help independent agents compete with the big retailers that can afford to have technology built for them,” Stiel told the Reporter.
Seven Big I state associations from Wisconsin, New York, Louisiana, Colorado, New Jersey, Texas, and North Carolina, have partnered with Steve Anderson to launch Catalyit. “Through the years, independent agencies have been left behind by technology,” Stiel said.
He is also worried about what effect last year’s hurricane season and Hurricane Ida are going to have on the property market in Louisiana, both commercial lines and personal lines. “The property market was already getting hard before Hurricane Ida,” Stiel said.
Stiel is not sure what to expect in the coming year, but one of his goals is to have a convention next year. “Covid has kind of trampled on the association causing us to not have a convention for the last two years. I want to have a convention next year,” Stiel said. He wants the members to know that whatever the board decides, it will be done with the safety of the members in mind, as well as the future success of IIABL’s member agencies.
Like his predecessor, he wants the members to know that no matter what Covid does to in-person meetings, they should continue to expect, front and center, technology resources to help them compete in the world of tomorrow, help with markets, timely news and information, education brought to the members in new ways, new products and resources to help member agencies work through the issues affecting them, and always a close eye on and involvement in regulations and legislation that might affect the members.
Like his predecessors, he believes that the biggest benefit to membership in IIABL is Jeff Albright and David Tatman (IIABL’s lobbyist) providing advocacy in the legislature and at the department. “Jeff Albright and David Tatman are well respected in the legislature,” Stiel said.
Another benefit he sees in membership in Big I is the education programs offered by IIABL and access to the staff in Baton Rouge.
The members who took office along with Stiel are Michael Scriber, Scriber Insurance Services, Ruston, president-elect, and Armond Schwing, Schwing Insurance Agency, New Iberia, secretary-treasurer. Johnny Beckmann III, AssuredPartners, New Orleans, will continue to serve as the state national director.
New to the state board are Robert Palmer Jr., Insurance Underwriters Ltd., Metairie, and Robert Stone, Stone Insurance, Metairie.
Continuing on the board are Ann Bodkin-Smith, Thomson, Smith and Leach Insurance Group, Lafayette; Matthew de Blanc, Continental Insurance Service, Marrero; Rob Eppers, Risk Services of Louisiana, Shreveport; Matt Graham, The Lincoln Agency, Ruston; Chris Haik, Haik Insurance Holdings, Lafayette; Stuart Harris, McClure, Bomar and Harris, Shreveport; Ross Henry, Henry Insurance Services, Baton Rouge; Bret Hughes, Hughes Insurance Services, Gonzales;
And Lydia McMorris, Alliant Insurance Services, Baton Rouge; Eugene Montgomery, Community Financial Insurance Center, Monroe; Joe Montgomery, Thomas and Farr Insurance Agency, Monroe;
Also Hartwig “Robby” Moss IV, Hartwig Moss Insurance Agency, New Orleans; Paul Owen, John Hendry Insurance Agency, Zachary; Martin “Teeny” Perret, Quality Plus Insurance, Lafayette, and Robert Riviere, Riviere Insurance Agency, Thibodaux.
The Young Agent representative on the board is Brittni Lagarde, Southern Insurance Agency, New Orleans.