Big I president and CEO Rusbuldt will retire next year

The longest serving top executive of Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (Big I) has decided to step down.

Bob Rusbuld, who has been CEO of the Big I since 2001, informed the association’s national board of directors of his decision at a meeting in Niagara Falls, New York, last weekend. He will remain in his current position until August 31, 2023.

Bob Rusbould

“I am truly humbled and honored to have had the privilege of leading the Big I for the past 23 years and to have been a part of this organization for 37 years,” says Rusbould. “With our incredible team of agent managers and Big I staff, we have achieved great success for our members. I can think of few things more satisfying than helping people in their worst time, and that’s what our members do. It has been a privilege to work alongside them, supporting and contributing to this mission. The Big I and the IA system have a rich history that I am proud to be a part of, but the evolution continues and the best is yet to come.”

Big I’s executive committee named Charles Symington, senior vice president of external, industry and government affairs, to succeed Rusbould effective September 1, 2023.

Rusbuldt joined the association in 1986 and was named CEO in 2001 after leading the government affairs department at Big I for many years. He has led many major Big I initiatives, including the creation of Big I Markets, a market access program for agent members; the creation of BIRC, a reinsurance company, and InsurBanc, a bank serving the needs of independent insurance agencies; the implementation of a member marketing brand, Trusted Choice, and a locator and consumer-facing company, TrustedChoice.com; the creation of Big I Hires, a national recruiting resource for the independent agent channel; and the creation of the Trusted Choice Disaster Relief Fund and the COVID-19 Relief Fund for member agencies in need, among other notable innovations.

Rusbuldt recently guided the Big I through the challenge of the coronavirus pandemic as well as celebrating the association’s 125th anniversary.

“Bob’s impact on the association, our member independent agents and brokers, and indeed the entire industry cannot be overstated,” said Bob Fee, president of Fee Insurance Kansas and former Big I president, who is chairing this weekend’s Big I meeting Board. “The independent agency system is stronger and better today thanks to more than two decades of Bob’s incredible leadership. With his drive, work ethic, and true dedication to our members, he is a driver of change that has elevated the IA Channel. Bob’s close relationships with so many key players in the industry have left an indelible mark.”

During his time at the Big I, Rusbuldt was named a “Top 25 Living Legends of Insurance” by PropertyCasualty360.com, and earlier this year was recognized by Insurance Business magazine among the world’s top insurance leaders on its Global 100 list .

Rusbuldt is a respected expert on tax, banking, insurance and financial matters in Washington, DC The Washington Post, Roll call and The hill he has been repeatedly cited as one of the most influential private sector people in Congress. He has been a frequent television and radio commentator on small business, insurance and disaster recovery issues and has also provided election and political analysis for various national and local news outlets over the years.

Rusbuldt’s tenure in Washington included time as a congressional staffer, including work with the US House Ways and Means Committee and with the American Insurance Association (now APCIA). Rusbuld was also a program analyst at the US Department of Labor and spent a year at the Federation of Tax Administrators.

In addition to leading Big I, Rusbuldt serves on a number of boards, including as Chairman of the Board of TrustedChoice.com. He serves on the board of ACORD, the board of Connecticut Community Bank/InsurBanc, the board of Big “I” Advantage, the board of the US Capitol Historical Society, the board of the Ripon Society, and several other boards, including spending 12 years on the MS National Capital Board .

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Charles Symington has been with the association since 2004 and leads federal and state government affairs, policy affairs, grassroots relations, industry relations and communications and media. He is also regularly recognized by The Hill newspaper as one of Washington, D.C.’s top lobbyists, and has been a key leader in many industry coalitions on Capitol Hill, advocating on a range of issues important to Big I members, such as flood insurance, small business tax issues, regulatory reforms, and more.

Prior to his time at Big I, Symington served as senior counsel to the US House Committee on Financial Services for three years, focusing on insurance issues. He also served as majority counsel for the House Energy and Commerce Committee, specializing in health care policy and oversight.

Before working on Capitol Hill, Symington was an attorney at the law firm of Matricardi & Moylan in Springfield, Va., and prior to that was with the firm of Drew, Eckl & Farnham in Atlanta, where he specialized in insurance defense litigation.

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