How did you get into insurance?
I was a car salesman for about a decade, and some of my buddies were working in insurance. I had to find someone new every day, and here they were telling me that they were getting residuals. I started selling life insurance on the side, and once that built up, I left the auto industry and went fully into insurance.
To be honest, I didn’t know much about insurance, but when I obtained my license, it seemed like every company came out of the woodwork. Life companies came to me with leads in hand, but when it came to it, property/casualty seemed more like it was my speed. I liked learning about the different companies and seeing people’s growth over time. Life is one of those things where you sell it to people, but you don’t see and interact with them much. I mostly do commercial property/casualty, but I do some home and auto too. Whether it’s a young family buying a house or a small company adding autos to their fleet, it’s nice to grow with those people.
What carriers do you work with?
I’m with a brokerage; we have over 50 companies that we can use to find the best fit and rates. A lot of picking the right things involves staying in touch with the reps and underwriters. Every once in a while, they’ll tell us they’re looking for something or are staying away from something in particular. If I know what they’re looking for, I can fit people into that. A lot of the time, we get people coming to us from captive agents with a ding on their record, and I know who I can look at for them because of those relationships.
The best premium isn’t always the right fit for the client. Certain companies like different risks, and we want to make sure those companies are happy so we can grow with that carrier. Some of those carriers have good relationships with us, and they’ll take business on our word, so we want to be careful about not making them unhappy. We also want the clients to be happy and stay with us long term, so it’s a balance that we’ve learned more and more about over time.
What do you think makes a good insurance agent?
It’s kind of different for each line of business, but what I’ve seen is that people who are willing to take the time to answer questions, to sit and make the clients at ease, have been the most successful. It’s all about the long term. For example, a lot of carriers have bonus programs to try to bring more business in, but there’s a lot of turnover on that. If I send 20 people to a company, and in a year there’s only three left, it doesn’t do much good for us or for the clients. It’s more important that, on both the carrier and client sides, I build trust and long-term relationships.