Unpacking the Minds of Two Insurance Organization Leaders: A Candid Conversation


This episode of Nat Alliance NOW is a powerhouse of insights and expertise as Director of Academic Content, Paul Martin, CPCU and Chief Marketing Officer, Mitch Dunford, join forces to bring you an exclusive interview with two major insurance organization leaders: John Costello, CIC, CRIS the Chairman of the National Big “I”, and Gerald Hemphill, CIC, LUTCF the President of the National PIA.

Together, they open up about their career paths that led them to their current positions and share their ambitious visions for the future of their organizations.

These industry leaders also delve into the current and future state of the insurance landscape, discussing the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. They also share their personal stories of how professional designations gave them the credibility and edge they needed to succeed in their careers.

Whether you’re a seasoned industry veteran or simply curious about the fascinating world of insurance, this episode is a must-listen.

Unlock your full potential and supercharge your professional growth with the CIC Designation Program.

John R. Costello, CIC, CRIS

Big “I” Chairman

John Costello, CIC, CRIS, is vice president and construction practice member at USI Insurance Services in Rochester, New York. Costello was installed as Big “I” chairman in September 2022.  Throughout his career, Costello has volunteered in a variety of professional and community service organizations. He is former chairman of the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, past president of the Independent Insurance Agents of Monroe County and was the 1995 Monroe County Insurance Professional of the Year. He formerly served on the board of directors of the Big “I” and chaired the Big “I” Finance Committee. He is active in the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors and the Insurance Risk Management Institute. He was elected to the Big “I” Executive Committee in 2016. Costello has nearly 40 years of experience in the insurance industry. After graduating from Villanova University with a degree in finance in 1976, he worked as an underwriter for General Accident Insurance before serving as president for Costello Agency Inc. for 12 years. In 1995, he became partner at Costello, Dreher, Kaiser Insurance Agency and joined First Niagara Risk Management in 2003 as vice president.  Through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Costello served at Key Insurance & Benefits, then USI Insurance Services, specializing in the construction, manufacturing and hospitality industries.  In his local community, Costello was the chairman of the board of Bishop Kearney High School and is past vice chair and treasurer of OASIS Adaptive Sports, a charity supporting disabled veterans. He is a former board member and past president of hospice facility Sunset House, former president of Brook-Lea Country Club and is the former director and a current member of the National Ski Patrol at Bristol Mountain. Costello also serves as secretary of the board at Oak Hill Country Club. He resides in Fairport, New York. 

Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing more than 25,000 agency locations united under the Trusted Choice brand. Trusted Choice independent agents offer consumers all types of insurance—property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products—from a variety of insurance companies.  

Gerald F. Hemphill, CIC, LUTCF

President of National Association or Professional Insurance Agents (PIA National)

An independent insurance agent in the metro-Richmond, Virginia area since 1993, Gerald F. Hemphill represents all lines of insurance, specializing in commercial and life insurance risks. He was an agent for a large domestic carrier for five years and has been principal of his own agency ever since.  In 1996, Gerald earned his LUTCF (Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow) designation, and in 2002, completed his CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) designation. He is a graduate of Campbell University and Fork Union Military Academy. In addition to his designations, he holds a property and casualty, life, health and annuity license.  Hemphill was President of the Professional Insurance Agents Association of Virginia/DC in 2010 and has served on the National Board of PIA since 2013. He was named the PIA of Virginia/DC Agent of the Year in 2012. Gerald and his wife have two daughters, Ashley and Taylor, and three grandchildren.  

PIA is the premier association for professional independent insurance agents; PIA has provided excellence to its members for 90 years. PIA has members in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, District of Columbia, and Guam. Through the strength of PIA affiliates, we are able to advance the independent agency system from coast-to-coast.

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