Re-imagining the insurance agent

By Lynette Gil


When I say “working in insurance,” what is the first image that pops into your mind? Let’s be honest: For most people, those words usually bring up images of an adult, with a hat, a briefcase, an impeccable suit, knocking on a suburban house door, selling insurance. At least, that’s the image I saw, until I was 24.

See, my father had always had his own life and disability insurance policies that were complementary to the ones offered by the companies he used to work for. When I was about 8 years old, I remember a gentleman dressed up in business attire sitting at our dining room table taking my dad’s vitals and asking about his health. This struck me as odd and I remember asking my mom who was that man. “He’s your dad’s insurance agent,” she said, and didn’t explain why there was a sphygmomanometer on the table or anything else for that matter.

It wasn’t until my father decided to start his own business that I learned the true value of having insurance: when you’re barely scraping by due to the economic recession, anything that could upset your balance sheets could potentially mean that you have to close your business.

And knowing Murphy and his law of “anything that can go wrong will go wrong,” you know where this story is headed. Early one morning, as my dad parked his car in front of the office, he noticed a waterfall emanating from under the main door.

Someone had left a tiny water hose faucet open, thus flooding the entire office in about eight hours: the tiles started coming off from the floor and the 700 sq. ft. of carpeted area was ruined. Thank Lady Luck that the floor was slanted towards the entrance and nothing else of the furniture, computers or wiring was lost!

Still, it would have been a terrible setback to a company that was barely alive. But, like a superhero, my dad’s insurance agent had it all covered. He came in, reassured my dad that everything was going to be all right (he must have had a really good mentoring/calming-hysterical-people-down bachelor’s degree!), that he would take care of everything because the policy covered “floods.”
To this day, that insurance agent is always welcome at my house for dinner, coffee, anything. And so, my whole image of what an insurance agent is or was changed dramatically: it went from a "traveling salesman" to a person who will take care of you when you need them the most. How would you value the protection of your livelihood?

And now, I'm here at LifeHealthPro, writing about insurance and reading many articles about the industry that bring about another image: a millennial, maybe even myself, helping other people see the value in this career and why there’s a growing need for the younger generations to work in this industry.

This past week, after doing much-needed research about degrees in insurance and life and health majors at the different universities and colleges in the U.S., I found myself “pitching” to friends about why they should study insurance or work in this field. Many of them were surprised and even said “no, I don’t see myself selling door-to-door.” But what they don't know is that it's rare for an agend to sell door-to-door anymore; many sell online, thus entering the digital world that many millennials thrive in. Yes, there's going to be face-to-face interaction with your clients, since insurance is a business of developing relationships, after all, but that first impression, that first line of contact, could be done completely online.

On the other hand, a few of my friends said that they had considered it at some point. One in particular said that his career as a communications specialist was “pretty much dead” and he’s having a hard time finding a job that he likes. I suggested that there’s a lot of opportunity in this industry, especially for him and his background, working with people, and wanting to make a difference in the world.

Only time will tell if we manage to spark curiosity in the “younger digi-generations” to come work in this very interesting, dynamic field. In the meantime, it is our job to spread the word, send out pigeons carrying the message: Opportunity is knocking on your door, you decide if you stop watching Netflix to answer it!

Originally published on LifeHealthPro.com