JustJobs Interviews: Insurance Agent

JustJobs interviews professionals working in a variety of fields. The good folks there have given me permission to post some of their interviews here. So if you’re wondering what it’s like to work in a specific field, you might want to check in here frequently. I’ll be posting interviews as I get them.

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Considered working as an Insurance Agent? This interview will take you through the ups and downs you can expect in the position, what it takes to land the job, what you can expect to earn and more. This is a true career story as told to ‘DiversityJobs.com street smart’ – a collection of true work-life stories told by members of minority groups (including women) from data analyst to scientist and everything in between.

Every day I wake up and look forward to going to work. I am an independent insurance agent with an office located in Miami, Florida. I have been in the insurance business for more than twenty years since graduating from college in 1989.

I love the business because I get to deal with and help people. No two days are ever the same. While a typical day involves writing a few new automobile policies and maybe helping someone with their life insurance needs, most of my time is devoted to making sure all the right forms are filled out and filed with the insurance companies.

As a young boy growing up in New York, I thought I might be a professional baseball player or maybe an FBI agent. Reality set in and I found myself working in an insurance office in South Florida. When I first came to Miami, I had to adjust to the large Hispanic population. I knew a little Spanish and the more I was exposed to the language, the more I was able to understand. While I would not say I am fluent in Spanish, I do know enough to feel comfortable having a conversation with a customer that does not speak English.

I used to feel that it was not right to have to learn Spanish in America. That feeling changed over the years the more I dealt with people that spoke Spanish as their native language. I believe knowing a second language, Spanish in particular, only enhances one’s life. No one should be discriminated against because they can not speak a language other than their native language.

If I were to rate my overall job satisfaction on a scale of 1-10, I would give it a 9. I thoroughly enjoy my job, but, I am so busy, I never have time for a vacation. I am not complaining about the long hours because the rewards are worth the effort.

Along the way I have learned to treat people as individuals. Not everyone is from a financially stable background, but everyone needs insurance. I once told someone to come back when they had enough money to buy insurance and I always felt bad about turning that person away. Maybe I was having a bad day, but now, I always try to help anyone that needs insurance find a way to obtain it.

They do not teach you how to relate to people in school. You learn all about the different types of insurance and how they benefit people, but they do not impress on you the importance of treating people with dignity and respect. I have learned that a friendly smile and a little small chat will get you more loyal customers then having the lowest prices in town.

I got started in the insurance business after taking a few courses in college and finding I liked the idea of providing solutions to the insurance needs of the general population. I do not think I would change my career if I could. I am quite happy with my job.

The strangest thing that ever happened to me was a lady came in carrying a picnic basket. Inside the basket was an obviously pampered cat. She wanted to insure her prized cat for $1,000,000. I told her we did not handle that type of insurance. She got up, made a quick comment about insurance agencies and left in a huff with her precious fury pet purring inside the picnic basket.

I love days when I get to talk with young couples just starting out in life. I get a chance to explain the importance of different types of insurance and hopefully set them on the right path in life. The worst days are days when people come in and complain about the high cost of insurance. Usually, they have very poor credit and no insurer is going to give them a break on the rates they have to pay.

My job has a level of stress to it that is comparable to most people in a service type of business. The stress is easily manageable if you know how to relate to people that may not always be so pleasant. I wish I could spend a little more time away for work sometimes, but then again, work is where I feel most comfortable. I would say the balance between work and home-life is close to ideal.

As the owner of my own business, I have some control on the amount of money I make each year. The more business I bring in, the more money I take in. I would say I average about $75,000 in an average year and can make a little less or a little more in any given year. Money is not the reason I entered the profession, but, I would consider the compensation fair for the amount of work and responsibility I have.

I am most proud of being able to be involved in the community. My proudest moments involve sponsoring a local Little League team and raising money for several local charitable causes.

The most challenging moment I had to deal with was the time I was held up at gunpoint. It was near closing time and someone that looked kind of suspicious came in to the empty office. I was alone and the guy pulled a gun and demanded money. I emptied my wallet of about $40.00 and he grabbed the money and ran out. Fortunately, I was not hurt and the $40.00 probably did him more good then it would have for me.

People that want to get into the insurance business should have a degree in business and maybe take some courses in insurance. A general background in a variety of subjects is helpful. To become an agent, you will need to study and take an exam showing you understand the terms and are proficient in the procedures for writing insurance policies. I would tell anyone that is considering insurance as a profession that it is an honorable way to make a living and will provide them with financial security throughout their life.

I would also tell them that vacation time is not always easy to get. I personally never take more than a week away from the office. That might just be my nature; others might need to take more. Because I enjoy conversing with my clients, the job is not really hard work. I feel in my heart that I am doing some good and not just doing the job for money.

Finally, if I could write my own ticket as to what I would be doing 5 years from today, besides winning the lottery and retiring to a retreat in Hawaii, I would be very content to continue selling insurance.

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