I have a soft spot in my heart for entrepreneurs. They tend to be incredibly optimistic, energetic, and fearless risk-takers. That last trait generally doesn’t go hand-in-hand with the insurance industry, and yet there are many independent insurance agents who are true entrepreneurs. The risk management and insurance industry offers several career paths for those who don’t wish to “sell insurance,” though I would argue that every job, no matter the industry, requires some degree of sales acumen – but that’s a topic for another blog. For those who fancy themselves entrepreneurs, cherish independence, seek success-driven rewards, and enjoy human interaction, being an insurance agent offers tremendous entrepreneurial opportunity.
There are many resources available to explore the insurance agent career path, including a brief personality test. Some additional information on being an insurance agent can be found here. For anyone considering the insurance agent career path, allow me to offer some more straight talk on being an insurance agent. The job is much more than “selling.” Personal and commercial consumers of insurance need more than just an insurance policy. They need problems solved. They need consultation and advice. They need advocacy and assistance during their darkest moments after disaster strikes. Some recent anecdotal evidence suggests that even with today’s easy internet commerce reaching into the insurance market, the majority of consumers begin their insurance research online but still decide to make their insurance purchase transaction with a local, face-to-face insurance agent. What an opportunity to be the problem-solver, advocate, and comforter, all while building a business fulfilling these roles.
What about earning potential? Generally speaking, a college graduate can land an entry-level position with an insurance carrier or large brokerage with a higher starting salary than they would earn in their first year as an insurance agent. But guess what. A few years later, the earning potential of those staff positions in the large companies will tend to plateau while the successful insurance agent/entrepreneur can be earning substantially more and building a business that they own and can someday sell. There is also the freedom and independence that distinguishes insurance agents from corporate staff positions in the industry. I’ve talked to several insurance agents who value the flexibility of the career which has allowed them to earn an excellent living and still make it to their kids’ ball games, or even be the coach.
I acknowledge that selling insurance is not everyone’s cup of tea, and “insurance sales” is a stigma that tends to drive young people away from the insurance industry as a career choice. There are plenty of wonderful career options in the industry (e.g., underwriting, claims, risk management) for those who have an aversion to sales, but I hope that every young person considering a career in insurance will look at the insurance agent opportunity with an open mind. Millennials are reportedly very entrepreneurial, and the insurance agent career option should be very appealing to this freedom-loving generation.