The Insurance Exchange
South Holland, Illinois
iPhone or Android? Team iPhone all the way
Favorite streaming service? Apple Music and my Amazon Firestick
What’s in your earbuds currently? My Summer 17 playlist with some of my favorite songs—“Get It Together” and “Passionfruit” by Drake, “Red Bone” by Childish Gambino and “Humble” by Kendrick Lamar
What brought you to insurance?
It’s a family business—my dad started it in ’86. I graduated from Spelman College in Atlanta and then I got my Master of Business Administration from Roosevelt University, and during that time is when I got licensed. I just made a decision that I could work for either somebody else’s daddy or my own daddy. As a young person, it was not my first thought. But I’ve always been into business and starting my own business and everything, so as I’ve gotten older, it just made sense.
What keeps you in it?
I love that every day is different. Some days I’m in the office working hard and trying to put a proposal together, some days I’m servicing, some days I’m out networking and meeting people and representing the agency. Some days I’m working late, some days I’m working early, some days I don’t work. Sometimes I’m in Vegas working, or I’m on vacation.
It’s also flexible. I’m a mother, so I’m able to be active in my son’s activities and school and set my own income. He’s eight—he’s in basketball and baseball, and he’s an honor student. My greatest goal is to be prosperous in all areas, not just in my career and not just at home.
Definitely my dad. We learn a lot from him when it comes to just dealing with people and bouncing back. That’s probably one of my biggest lessons from my father—to not let things that seem devastating have a hold over me or change the course. That’s a resilience you can take to all areas of your life. As a young person, the way you respond to life can make or break you.
Last year, my dad had a heart attack and was out the first and the second quarter for the most part. It was like a full-blown dress rehearsal. We all just stepped up—it’s myself, my brother and we have a sister in the business, and between myself and my brother we pretty much had to run the agency. We’ve always known it’s between the two of us who would take it over. Of course it’s a blessing that my dad’s still with us, and he’s still working and he stayed in it, but I think he realized that it was time to set some things up in a way that the succession would be much easier.
Millennial stereotype that fits you?
Millennials tend to want to be on the go. For example, my father will not let go of a receptionist. He believes there needs to be a receptionist, somebody answering the phone, somebody to greet the people. And it’s like OK, but none of us are ever going to check in with her and tell her what’s going on. He wants us to so bad, but we’re just like, no. I don’t wake up in the morning with that thought. If he doesn’t see us there, he feels like we’re not working. But you can transfer it to my phone and it’ll go to my cell. I’m here, I’m answering.
I also think we tend to not have as much loyalty as other generations. Whether it’s your job or politics, we’re not necessarily loyal to the Democratic Party, we’re not necessarily loyal to working at a specific place or in a specific industry. We’ll go get a license over here, we’ll do this, we’ll do that. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. The good part is you have to prove more to the millennials to get their dedication. You have to earn it. It’s not just a given that we’re going to vote for you or be part of you.
Industry’s biggest challenge?
The sharing economy. Uber, Lyft, Airbnb—so many people are thinking, “Do I really need to own?” Is that value there for the younger generation? Will they care to buy homes? And if they do buy a home, is it to actually run a business out of it? How do you insure that? I think some of the traditional ways policies are written and the purpose of them will have to be revisited.
Think about Uber—when Uber first started, there weren’t a lot of companies that would insure Uber drivers. Carriers were like, “Absolutely not. You don’t understand this, we are not insuring this. You need a commercial policy.” It was a totally different world a couple years ago. And now so many companies are like, “Oh, ridesharing, OK cool, just add this endorsement.” It might still be a little expensive, but it’s necessary for more companies to address it. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s going to be the challenge—making affordable products for these types of markets. You have guests staying in your home and you’re not there? Sure, there could be a party and a whole lot of stuff could happen. But you’re going to be on that lawsuit one way or another, so you might as well give them a way that makes it OK.
With millennials and Generation Z, everybody is just coming up with stuff. In a minute they’re going to be sharing cable. They’re going to be sharing everything. If I can’t afford my car insurance, then eventually, I might just not want a car. I’m just going to take an Uber everywhere I go. And that changes the market, it changes how you do things. We’re there. I think at this point, we just have to accept that creativity and start figuring out ways to continue to have insurance working, because it’s the one thing that keeps the economy going.
This article is the first 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.