Tomorrow Land: Meet Millennial Agent Nicole Carrigan

NicoleCarriganNicole Carrigan

McGregor Insurance, Inc.
Ocean Shores, Washington

Age: 29
Guilty pleasure TV show: Keeping Up With the Kardashians
Uber or Lyft: Lyft
In your earbuds: Fleetwood Mac

Why insurance?

I kind of stumbled onto it. I went to school for fisheries, biology and anthropology, and I moved home after college to work for the local tribal fisheries. When that job ended, I just needed a job, and I needed one immediately. I applied with McGregor Insurance because I knew their son from high school, so I knew they were good people. What I thought would just be a space filler turned into a full-time, full-fledged career.

What’s to love?

I love that I’m able to work in a small town for a family-owned business. Our town has about  4,500 year-round residents and everyone knows each other, so I’m constantly helping those I know and care about. I was raised by parents who owned their own local business, and I loved the fact that my childhood was spent running around my dad’s auto body shop, meeting all his clients. Working for a family-owned business now, it’s that same small-town vibe. It’s comforting—I have heavy roots in my community.

And I love the people I get to meet who aren’t from here. We’re a tourist community, so we have a lot of people buying secondary homes from all over the U.S. I turn it into a personal conversation a lot of times because of the cultural anthropologist in me.

Biggest role model?

Definitely the owner, Mike McGregor. He took over this business when he was 25, and he’s so persistent when it comes to doing his job and doing it well. He’s the definition of dedicated to his job, with the highest ethics and morals of anyone I know. He’s not only taught me how to sell insurance, but he’s taught me how to have pride in my work at the end of the day. Having him as a sounding board when I come across a scenario I’m unfamiliar with is something I don’t take for granted.

Thoughts on Gen Z?

My little sister is right there on the cusp. One thing that drives me absolutely bonkers with her age group, but I know it’s just how they were brought up, is the need for ease. She was telling me about an online quote comparer where you enter your information in one spot and it branches out and hits multiple carriers for quotes. And she was just so wide-eyed, like, “Isn’t this the coolest thing you’ve ever heard of?” I was like, “I swear, if I lose your business because you went online and plugged in your date of birth, we’ll have issues at Christmas.”

I think that super heavy reliance upon the internet and the quickness of it is a challenge. We’re a retirement community as well as a tourist community, so most of my clients are old enough to be my grandparents—they want us to sit and talk with them. But we get some younger clients who stumble in and they’re completely baffled when I say, “Give me 10-15 minutes of your time to get your information.”

Industry’s greatest challenge?

Providing coverage that comes with all these new technological advances. When Uber and Lyft first started out, my boss was so grateful that we live in a town without any need for either of them. But then you get into autonomous cars, and who’s at fault? Is it the driver? Is it the car that failed to brake? Is it the automaker? Technology in general is making insurance more complicated to write, and proper coverage more expensive. A windshield costs around $1,000 to replace now on a car with lane-sensing technology, and then people come in and they’re devastated that they have to pay more money for their physical damage coverage.

Future goals?

At the agency currently, it’s just me and one other agent, plus Mike and his wife, Diana. All three of their children wanted to move to Seattle, so they’re out in the big city. My goal is to eventually own the agency and keep the small-town business going in Ocean Shores.

More short-term, I’m looking into getting my personal risk management designation. We’ve got a beach community north of us where the least expensive 500-square-foot cabin goes for around $350,000. People buy them as secondary homes and then they put them in a vacation rental pool, and that’s just a huge exposure. It terrifies me that the majority of them don’t know what an umbrella policy is or why they would need one. I think this designation would really improve my interactions with these clients.

Advice for a fellow young agent?

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Our other agent here just turned 24 a week ago, and I don’t think this was a job she wanted, but I hunted her down. With our town being so small, finding someone with a solid head on their shoulders can be difficult. When I met her, I was like, “You—you’re the one I want, come turn in your application.”

The first time she had someone who was kind of aggressive toward her simply because she was a new agent, I had to watch it bring her down in that moment. But then I got to be the one to say, “Nope—been there, done that. We’re all going to back you up, we’re going to point out that you’re trained by all of us and that you’re intelligent.” Pick yourself up by the bootstraps when you get knocked down. There’s always a new client. There’s always a new person to help.

This interview is the second in a series that profiles 10 millennials in the independent insurance industry, based on IA’s July cover story.

Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.