Our Story

AHA’s vision is to see every independent agency thrive and reach its highest potential.

The Story of the AHA Insurance Network

Like many others, in the 1960s, Tim Hyland was a political science major wanting to change the world. But that ambition would sit on the sidelines for over a decade while Tim quietly coached and taught English at a small all boys school in Louisville, KY. “Honestly, I didn’t have a career plan. I wanted to follow the coaching path because it had always been a part of my life. I played basketball in college, and I needed a job, so I did what I knew. “Coaching and teaching didn’t pay much in those days,” he relates. Tim found unexpected fulfillment when he was tasked to develop a program to help special needs children graduate. In an era before learning disabilities were well-documented, Tim had to pioneer an uncharted path, a theme that would characterize his career. “I didn’t realize then how this teaching experience would come into play later in what I do now at AHA.”

Insurance Was Never Part of the Plan

One day Tim made the tough decision to resign from his coaching and teaching job. “I had taught for ten years. I was thirty-two years old. I had three children, ages two to nine. My wife was a medical technologist by training, and thankfully, she made a nice salary. But even our combined salaries were barely enough to support our growing family. When I got home, my wife was shocked. ‘You resigned. What are you going to do?’” Tim remembers saying, “Well, I’ll find something.” For sure, a career in insurance had never been on his radar. Tim’s father introduced him to an agency-owner friend, and Tim was offered a job. Just like his father, he found a knack for connecting with customers.

“We knew almost nothing about insurance, but we trusted each other.”

pat_and_tim_in_front_of_old_lou_building.JPGWhen Pat Hyland, Tim’s younger brother, was laid off during a local manufacturing plant closure, the brothers decided to link up. “We were raised to take care of one another.” They both decided insurance might be an exciting career. “Pat knew nothing about insurance, and I knew just a little, but we said, ‘Let’s go for it.’” They started their independent agency, Hyland Insurance, in 1983 in a spare room in Tim’s brother-in-law’s CPA firm. “I was young and didn’t know what it was going to take financially. We just jumped into it head first! It was tough for a long time, but our energy and persistence to succeed kept us afloat.” They also took on the challenge of renovating an old 19th-century Victorian building in the heart of the Old Louisville preservation district, which would become the home to Hyland Insurance for the next 37 years. Tim remembers: “The building gave us credibility well before we deserved it.” Like many startups, it was a tough few years for the brothers. “We just persisted. We kept doing the simple footwork each day with the idea that good things happen to people who work hard and stay the course!” This theme would continue for the rest of their years in business.

“We hit a wall. We were treading water.”

tim_at_desk.JPGHyland Insurance grew steadily, but over time the brothers felt they had hit a plateau. “Everybody was starting to feel the pinch of being small. The carriers were saying, ‘If you can’t produce more than this, we will have to let you go.’” Smaller, independent agencies felt the impossibility of satisfying the appetites of the many different carriers they were trying to rep, and the Hyland brothers thought they had to do something or lose the agency they had worked so hard to create.

An Idea that Sat on the Shelf for Two Years

Tim had an unorthodox idea early in his career: “What if all of us smaller agencies pooled our resources to have more bargaining power with carriers? It was an idea very outside the box at the time.” That idea would sit on the shelf until one day, a small New England network named SIAA approached Hyland Insurance to become one of the first SIAA Master Agencies outside New England. A new entity, Agents Helping Agents (AHA), was formed. It was later shorted to “the AHA Insurance Network.”

Collective Representation for Better Compensation

The concept of an agency network quickly caught on with small agencies because it gave the independent agency more carrier representation with less expense and with the potential to earn more bonus commission. One of AHA’s founding principles was mentorship. Tim would explain to potential members: “We are one of you. I’ve made every mistake you can make building an independent agency, and I can tell you what to do and what not to do.” As the member’s collective volumes grew, more and more carriers wanted to partner with AHA, which offered advantages for all its member agencies.

Becoming a Trusted Partner in Technology

In the 1990s, most smaller independent agents were still on paper-reliant systems. Forced automation had begun to threaten the small agency’s way of doing business and tax their resources when working with so many different carriers. AHA became the trusted resource to help small agencies implement new processes and technology. Tim reached back to lessons learned while teaching and coaching. “I ended up working with younger agents and trying to teach, coach, and direct them to better success. I didn’t see this coming, but it was rewarding. I enjoyed it.”

Handing Over the Reigns

Hyland has always been a family business, and as Tim grew older, he looked to the next generation to take Hyland and AHA to the next level. The answer came in Tim’s son, Terry, who had learned the ropes at Hyland Insurance as a college intern. When Terry graduated from business school, he brought high-level business acumen and an understanding of accounting and business mechanics that would help the company take the necessary steps forward.

After 25 years of working in all aspects of Hyland and in creating AHA, in 2020, Terry became the new President. When asked why he chose to follow in his father’s footsteps, he said, “I saw what it meant to people and business in my community. A lot of people want to buy insurance the right way. There’s still a desire to own your own business, and AHA desires to support them in their dreams.”

Helping Independent Agents Reach Their Fullest Potential

Today, AHA has over 150 members across three states (KY, IN, and TN). AHA’s vision is to see every independent agency thrive and reach its highest potential so that together, we become the most sought-after partnership of next-generation insurance leaders.

As Tim, Terry, and Pat look back over almost forty years of building agencies, Tim recounts, “I think persistence and consistency are the two most important things in business and life. If you continue to persist and believe that something can happen, it will.”



To see every independent agency thrive and reach its highest potential so that together, we become the most sought-after partnership of next-generation insurance leaders.
Let AHA Insurance Network help build the agency of your dreams.


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