10 Young Agents Tell All: Meet Corbin Adams

CorbinAdamsCorbin Adams

Insurance Broker
Insurers Review Services
Chicago

Age: 30
iPhone or Android? iPhone
Favorite streaming service? Apple Music
What’s in your earbuds currently? “More Life” by Drake

What brought you to insurance?

It’s a family business. My great uncle started the company 35-something years ago, and growing up with him being an influence in my life, I decided I shouldn’t work for anybody else. I felt the opportunity was greater to learn how to be a business person than learn how to work a conventional 9-5. 

I kind of blindly did it without much understanding of what I was getting myself into. Fresh out of college, you’re still very wet behind the ears. You notice after a while you’re meeting people in the insurance industry that have more years of experience than you’ve been living. At that point, you just realize you’ve got to be in it in for the long haul. You’re not going to learn it overnight as opposed to what we are accustomed to as millennials—the hot-pocket microwave success. You think you can Google your way through life, and it’s not like that. You have to really pay your dues. It’s not a young man’s game.

What keeps you in it?

No opportunity is the same with insurance. Every business is different, everything is so broad and you have to learn on the fly to try and figure out a solution. It’s just not as easy as, “OK, I’ll give you a policy and everything’s covered.” Especially on the property-casualty side, so many companies have certain exclusions in their policies, or maybe your client has a risk that isn’t insured by that company. Then you have the challenge of finding a company that will do everything at once. 

And the ability to have different options as an independent broker is a lot better, in my opinion, than being associated with a franchise like Allstate or State Farm. There, you can only provide one option. As an independent agent, you have a lot more leeway to get creative.

Role model/mentor?

My uncle Al Robinson, the founder & president of the agency. His tutelage has definitely given me a lot of information and insight on how to be effective, especially with people. This is a people business. You have to get beyond the fear of rejection—that’s the No. 1 thing you have to get over, because it’s an intangible. Nobody is thinking about buying insurance every day, so I think I’ve had to adjust my work personality and my overall personality as far as you kind of have to hound people. My uncle’s tutelage got me beyond that point of worrying about how I’m going to look calling somebody every week to get an answer. 

Millennial stereotype that fits you?

The advent of technology and its exponential nature has created a wedge in understanding between our generation and those before us, because we’re able to process things a lot faster and send information back a lot faster. This perception of being lazy haunts us, but it’s just that old adage: Work smarter, not harder. We’ve almost become the SparkNotes generation, and that can be good or bad, but I think for the most part what we’ve seen is it’s becoming easier for people to do normal functions. 

Look at something like Fiverr, where you’re able to basically outsource a lot of functions that otherwise you might have to pay somebody an hourly wage to do. Instead, you can go online and find someone across the world to create a logo for you or do an email campaign. Maybe you’re not good at doing an email campaign, but there’s someone out there who can do it for you for a nominal price, and what’s the end result? I could waste my time trying to be proficient at it, or I could be using my time to be looking for other clients. As a small business owner, you have to figure out how to adjust with the times and use your time more efficiently. Things like that that are available to us now weren’t available 30 years ago, and it’s something that’s revolutionary. There’s a book I’ve been reading called “The Four-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris—that’s where I got some of those ideas.

Industry’s biggest challenge?

So many people are talking about the insurance industry in this kind of doomsday scenario. And I know algorithms are basically putting people out of stock trading positions, but I think the need for the advisory role will always be there in insurance. If you have the skills of being able to decipher, what does this policy exclusion mean? What does this election mean? You’re able to give someone the peace of mind so if and when something happens, they’re covered. We have to just make sure that when we approach clients, we still give them that human aspect. We’re not selling you just the package—we’re telling you why this is important, how this functions for the day to day. 

Next generation of consumers?

A lot of it will have to fold into the service aspect. People aren’t looking to do 401(k)s when they have $30,000 over their head in student loans. People are looking to alleviate that kind of pressure so they can buy homes and watch their credit-to-debt ratio go down. As millennials, those things are very real for us. When the numbers show that fewer millennials are living alone, or women are having children later in life, these are strong indicators that there are other forces behind the decisions we’re making. As insurance advisers, it’s up to us to give employers and individuals peace of mind regarding how they can alleviate some of that stress. 

This article is the second in a series that profiles 10 millennials in independent insurance, based on IA’s July cover story. Keep an eye on IAmagazine.com and upcoming editions of the News & Views e-newsletter for more insights into how young people are working to secure the future of your industry.

Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.