I met Karen while volunteering at the Scarborough High School Career Fair. Of course, I gravitated toward the table with the insurance professionals to talk about their path to their careers! You can’t take insurance out of the girl!
Q: What is the title of your profession?
A: I am a licensed Independent Insurance Agent.
Q: What do you do???
A: I am licensed in Health and Life Insurance, I sell health insurance (to include health supplements, vision, dental), Life Insurance, Disability Insurance, and Long-Term Care Insurance.
I’m am what’s called a “captive agent” with Insphere Insurance Solutions. What this means is though I’m independent, I agree that I will only sell insurance products offered under the company name of Insphere. The advantage for me, is that Insphere shops a line of carriers, develops all the marketing materials, and administers all my applications under one roof – this means that I don’t have to go out and find carriers, staff an office, and develop marketing materials – Insphere does this for me: “I’m in business for myself, but not by myself”.
I have a home office and I am paid via 100% commission. I find prospects for my products by marketing and advertising – which I pay for myself. My clients receive personalized one-on-one attention; and I call on then either at their home, place of business, or location of their choice. The protection products that I sell ensure that if something happened to a person, they don’t have to pay for it on their own. In short, insurance pays what people can’t afford to pay on their own. When I meet with people I take special care to understand their health and wealth situation, and help them protect their dreams and what they work so hard for.
Q: Have you always worked in this field?
Q: If no, what was your prior profession and what made you change your profession?
A: I’ve been in sales my whole life. Much of my career was in consumer product sales as a National Account Manager. In addition to National Account Manager, I’ve done public relations work, and am a freelance writer.
Q: Why did you choose this profession?
A: In all cases, I’ve liked and believed in the product, and wanted to represent it.
Q: How would you define your profession?
A: It is sales.
Q: Did you go to college or a trade school for this profession?
A: I went to college – but not for this profession specifically. I went to New England College in Henniker, NH. I have a BA in Business Administration.
Q: Do you use your degree in your job?
A: YES! From managing the finances of my business, to marketing, and communication in business (my favorite class in college), my degree has served me very, very well!
Q: Can your degree be used as a basis for any other professions?
A: My degree could be used in big business, corporate America, to small business, sole proprietorship – whether it be accounting, finance, marketing, advertising, or management. It can be used in Public Relations, Media Communications, Policy Sounding.
Q: Does your job require continued education?
A: Yes, Credit hour courses. In Maine, with insurance, a health/life agent is required to take 24 hours of credits every two years.
Q: Does your job require a certification or board testing?
A: I had to get a life/health insurance license from the state of Maine.
Q: What is a day in the life of your job? Does it change day to day? Do you work with the public?
A: My day consists of making lots of phone calls, attending networking meetings, marketing (putting together newsletters, mailing out postcards, submitting ads to the newspaper), running prospect appointments, driving to and from appointments, submitting applications, recording sales, loading new clients into my data base, filing applications, and serving existing clients. Each day is different because I travel to see my clients – so each day is a different person, in a different home, a different town – all over Maine! I’m working with the public 90% of my day.
Q: What do you think makes a person successful in this profession?
A: Perseverance, hard work, and a can-do attitude!
Q: Does your profession require travel?
A: YES I put 30,000 miles/year on my car driving all over Maine, and I also travel to Texas a few times a year.
Q: What is the typical schedule/hours?
A: I get up at 5:30AM and am home by 6:30 – most typically. I do schedule evening meeting when I have to.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your job?
A: Hearing back from happy clients, and knowing a protected people who had no idea the exposure risk that they had prior to my getting to them.
Q: What do you dislike about your job?
A: This is easy – COMPLIANCE! I wish that I could put into print in very simple language the language of insurance, but because the industry is so highly regulated, legal jargon with compliance codes is all that people see.
Q: What advice would you give to a child/student that is considering this profession?
A: If you are driven, really enjoy people, are passionate about helping people, insurance is a really good career.
Q: If you had to do it all over again, would you choose the same profession? If no, why not?
A: Honestly – if I had to do it all over again, I would probably choose the more creative side of business – and focus on the communication profession of public relations and marketing, mainly because I feel very strapped by the confines of insurance compliance.
Q: Are you having fun?
A: Yes! If you can’t find a way to make a profession fun, then you need to do something else. I approach each day as though I was on an assignment to write a humorous book – when I look at my day this way, I can always find a good laugh.
Q: Do you receive a pension or have a company sponsored 401k?
A: I don’t with insurance; but did when I was a National Account Manager. Yes – it’s nice, but whether you have this benefit from a company, or not – commit yourself to put a portion of your paycheck away into an investment vehicle, and find a good financial advisor right after you graduate. Getting your money to work for you, versus having to work for money your whole life will give you freedom to always do the things you love and not feel trapped in the same old job for years and years and years!