"When I came out of college, the agency was still mailing paper applications," says young agent Joseph Iten. "It’s been a push for me to bring everything up to speed and teach the older generations to use technology like e-payments and e-signatures."
Commercial Lines Agent, Chief Technology Officer
Go-to drink order: Café Bustelo
Desired superpower: Teleportation
Favorite candy: Not a sweets person, so fried food is my guilty pleasure!
Why did you choose insurance as a career?
I'm a third-generation agent. My grandfather was a captive agent and my father was too until he made the switch to become independent in 2008. I've known what an underwriter is since I was 4 or 5 years old, listening to the conversations around the dinner table. After I graduated from college, they asked me to join the commercial lines department and I've been here ever since. I've learned a lot and I love it. I started in a hard market that softened up, and now we're back in a hard market again.
Biggest industry challenges?
In Florida and several other states it's carrier access. Homeowners has been a major problem here in Florida, but the property market in general is an issue. There's nowhere to go with it. We've had 15 property insurers go insolvent since 2020. Thankfully, the Florida legislature passed Senate Bill 2A, which should increase property coverage options, and that should provide some relief for the industry. It's been stressful to have those conversations with clients and it's put a lot of pressure on our staff, but luckily, we can have more positive conversations with some relief coming.
Pros and cons of multiple generations in the workplace?
You can't really learn the experience and knowledge of the older generation from a textbook. I've learned a lot from my father, who learned a lot from his father. You can't put a dollar value on that. Cons: When I came out of college, the agency was still mailing paper applications. It's been a push for me to bring everything up to speed and teach the older generations to use technology like e-payments and e-signatures.
Best thing about being an independent agent?
Being able to help our clients with all aspects of their insurance and fill the holes that might be missed when dealing with different agencies for personal lines and commercial lines. When I write a commercial account, I can help the business owner with all lines of business. And then there's developing that personal relationship; to be able to go out on site and provide next-level service for all their insurance needs is really rewarding.
AnneMarie McPherson Spears is IA news editor.