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  1. IA Advantage Blog
  2.  » Agents in Arms:’s Rich History Within the Big “I”

Agents in Arms:’s Rich History Within the Big “I”

From fledgling to full-time—we're taking it back to the beginning! Traverse the timeline, and learn how we have evolved with the Big "I" in recent years, plus where we plan to go next.
Published: September 28, 2021
Every day, our mission as the #1 online insurance resource is to connect independent insurance agents with local shoppers. We do this by equipping independent agencies with the digital toolbelt they’ll need to build their online presence, get recommended to shoppers seeking their specific business appetite, and rank higher on the National IA Directory. As of August 2021, has amassed 49,000+ content pages, over 100 million Google impressions year to date, and recently surpassed 36 million shoppers.

But hasn’t always been the online insurance titan it is today. We have the Big “I” to thank for its support of as a fledgling insurance technology company, and we celebrate the history that brought us to our 36 millionth shopper.

The History of the Big “I” and the Trusted Choice Co-Brand

This year, the Big “I” celebrates its 125th anniversary after its establishment in 1896. Insurance agents in multiple cities in the US came together at the turn of the century to create a federal association of independent insurance agents nationwide—a supportive network made for agents, by agents. The Big “I” set the framework for today’s evolving insurance industry, offering an extensive array of services and resources in support of independent insurance agents and agencies, like education, licensing, and liability coverage.

In 2001, the Big “I” introduced a national co-brand for independent insurance agents, known today as Trusted Choice. The mission of the Trusted Choice co-brand is to give independent agents a recognizable and reliable insurance industry name that they can leverage to market their own agencies to local shoppers. In the early days, Trusted Choice would supply independent agents with signage and other marketing tools (pamphlets, flyers, business cards, etc.), recognizing them as a Trusted Choice agency under the Big “I” umbrella and helping shoppers to recognize their business more easily. Today Trusted Choice has grown into a recognized national brand. This year, Trusted Choice celebrates its 20th anniversary of helping agents to be seen across the industry.

How It All Started: The Humble Beginnings of

By 2010 many of the large national captive agencies were seen to be out in front of the shift to digital, posing a challenge for smaller independent insurance agencies. To fight back, independent agencies and their IA company partners banded together to create a digital marketing-focused innovation company that would give independent agencies the online visibility they lacked. Thus, was born!

The Big “I” spearheaded the initial founding of, enlisting support from leading IA insurance companies across America, including Safeco, Central Insurance, Main Street America, Westfield, State Auto, and Selective. Two years later, in 2012, Chip Bacciocco, would join as the new CEO and bring aboard three new IA company investors—Motorists, Travelers, and WR Berkley. By July of 2013—roughly seven and a half months after Bacciocco joined—the consumer portal was launched. The following day, officially received its first-ever shopper!

The mission given to was to become the most visited insurance website on the web, empowering shoppers with useful and accurate information and connecting them to independent agents. Before agents could begin to be found online, however, needed to establish itself as a clearly recognizable brand online, as well as a leader in technology. We did this by diving deep into search engine optimization (SEO) and building out content pages related to insurance questions real shoppers sought answers to online. Each of these pages were indexed and crawled by Google, boosting’s ranking to the first page and establishing the platform independent agents could use to boost their own online presence.

Over the next few years, we built a modern online insurance information resource, recruiting people with the digital and innovation skills necessary to support the mission. It is because of these behind-the-scenes experts that can serve independent agents today. By 2014, just one year after the formal introduction of the site, had serviced 500,000+ online shoppers nationwide. Five years later, it was serving 6 million shoppers per year.

To date, has welcomed 36 million insurance shoppers, and that number continues to grow every day.

How Has’s Mission Evolved Over the Years? What Does the Future Look Like for Independent Insurance Agents? continues to deliver the innovative services necessary to help independent agents succeed in their local markets. As CEO, Chip Bacciocco, best put it, “In 10 years, the mission has not changed in the broadest sense; it was to bring technology and digital marketing expertise to independent agencies to help them compete more effectively in the 21st century. In the beginning, that included helping agencies to build better websites and to leverage social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn. Back then, we helped one agency at a time. Today, we are 100% focused on building a national marketing platform for independent agents, which is a much more scalable way to serve the IA channel.”

“In the future, we want to be an open technology platform for the IA channel,” Bacciocco adds, “We want both agents and IA companies to be able to tap into the API and access our data to run their own applications.  It’s evolving into more of a distributed, cloud-based, API application suite. That’s probably where it will be 10 years from now.”

With the support of, the Big “I” carries on its own legacy to unite independent agents across the nation. In celebration of its 125th anniversary, Bob Rusbuldt, Big “I” President and CEO, applauds the resiliency of independent agents in the face of any challenge, “As the independent agency system has evolved, one thing hasn’t changed, and that’s the adaptability, resiliency, strength, and optimism of its agent entrepreneurs.”

How Are the Big “I” and Helping Independent Agents Today?

The Big “I” is the largest network of independent agents in the world, and is the technology and marketing platform designed to give agents the online leg-up they need to compete with larger insurance companies. Together, the Big “I” and make up the largest online resource for independent agents, providing them all the tools they’ll need to create long-lasting relationships with customers. With every Big “I” membership comes a complimentary agency listing, which members can upgrade to access more lucrative, traffic-boosting features, and access to digital opportunities. Every day, works towards making sure independent insurance agents are seen and recognized online for their expertise.

At, we’re proud to work with the Big “I” to bring insurance shoppers to independent insurance agents’ digital doors. We look back on this rich history and celebrate the journey that brought together, and it is our ongoing mission to match agents and shoppers while providing the best possible service to ensure your independent insurance agency doesn’t fly under the radar online.

To learn more about Advantage, check out all our subscription options online. Become part of the journey today!

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