"Be a student of the industry," says independent agent Rodney Yates Jr. "If you don't continue to learn, adapt and evolve, you will be left behind."
Rodney Yates Jr.
How did you get started at your agency?
My mom and dad were working in the insurance industry and started Yates Insurance Agency 30 years ago. We are a local family-owned independent agency in central Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay, providing business insurance and surety products to the Mid-Atlantic region and beyond.
I grew up working in the family business—starting with cleaning the office at night after sports practices while I was in high school to working full time as an underwriter, producer and now president of the agency.
I've always been interested in insurance because I see how it is needed for our economy to work. I like the hands-on underwriting approach for contract surety and the industry relationships that are developed with this great community. I enjoy being able to call or meet with our underwriters to discuss a new client opportunity and build out those account relationships.
Changes in the surety bond market?
From rising inflation to the shortage of materials, the last few years have posed many new challenges that the industry has had to face. However, it has provided a great opportunity to focus on our fundamental underwriting principles and character underwriting to navigate the industry successfully. Capacity levels have started to be discussed in some situations and we are watching this closely.
The continued expansion in the use of technology and data science as tools that agents can rely on. For contract surety, however, the agent and underwriter will still be relied on for their invaluable skills, which was highlighted over the last couple of years.
Advice for a fellow surety bond agent?
Be a student of the industry. If you don't continue to learn, adapt and evolve, you will be left behind. To further my education, I obtained a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation six years ago. One of the great benefits of this designation has been the high level of continuing education classes this certification allows me to participate in every year. Education is key to being a successful agent in this industry.
Favorite success story?
Being able to provide clients with the solutions they need so that they can continue to win profitable jobs, retain all their employees and hire additional employees when necessary is always a success story in my book.
Olivia Overman is IA content editor.