Commercial Account Executive
Briggs Agency, Inc.
Guilty pleasure TV show: “Friends”
In your earbuds: A variety of podcasts and music
The app you can’t live without: Maps
Spotify or Apple Music: Spotify
Netflix or Hulu: Netflix
We’re a family business. My great-grandfather started our agency in 1946, and then in the early ’80s, my dad joined the agency. I didn’t have any plans to be in insurance when I was younger, but I took one of those career tests when I was in high school, and one suggestion that came up was a claims adjuster. My dad used to be a claims adjuster before he joined the agency—he lived in Jamaica for four years, and I remember I did a project on some of the hurricanes he worked on. I thought that was kind of cool, so that’s how I got interested in the insurance business originally.
I’ve also always had a passion for the fire department. I went to school at Eastern Kentucky University and got a bachelor’s degree in fire protection administration, and they had an insurance program there as well. I took several property-casualty classes in their insurance department and really liked it. I’ve been working here at the agency since I graduated about two years ago, but I also work part-time in the fire department locally.
The fire department is a big commitment, but I love doing it. We have meetings once a week, along with regular training. We’re a small fire department, but we’re busy—we have a full-time staff and we also have volunteers and part-time staff that fill in. I live real close to the fire station, so usually I’m right there whenever we get calls, even if it’s two o’clock in the morning. I’ve been involved for about five years now—I actually lived at a fire station when I was in school too for a little while, so I got all my advanced licenses and certifications.
All of it ties in well with my insurance role. I can look at it a little bit differently than another agent could because I understand building hazards, and I’m also very familiar with our local buildings and codes and what’s going on there. If we get a fire in our county, there’s a good chance I’m either there or I know about it. Fortunately, I’ve never been to one that’s affected a client, but just the people I’ve met—firefighters, police officers, first responders—some of those connections have been helpful and useful as far as regular business goes, too. There’s a lot of trust there.
Greatest role model?
Without a doubt, my dad. He really takes his time with me, always answers questions—everything I know about insurance, I’ve learned from him as far as how businesses run, how to take care of clients, how to handle situations. I learn from him every day. He’s a real good businessman.
As the agency principal, my dad really has an open mind whenever we bring him an idea. I have introduced a few new things, like right now we’re changing our emails, we’ve updated our website, we have more of a footprint on social media. He’s letting me take the reins and run with that. There are so many new technologies out there and they’re still coming out, still being developed—everyone’s talking about InsurTech. We’re certainly not the most technologically advanced agency in the country, but we’ve got good technology in our agency, and we use it as a tool just like anything else.
I’m sure there’s plenty out there that fit me. But one thing I think is inaccurate is that all millennials like to buy things online. When I buy something, I do research online first, but I like to walk into a store when I’m ready to make a purchase. I like to do a face-to-face transaction. I like to buy something where I can see it. Maybe I’m just an old soul.
Thoughts on Gen Z?
Specific to insurance, I think the next generation that’s coming up is going to need that much more of a helping hand, especially when they become business owners. It seems like they’re becoming more specialized in what they’re doing, whether it’s technology or a trade or something like that. So the skills they have in their particular trade or business may be more advanced than the people out there running those businesses now, but when it comes to the general aspect of running a business and handling risk, they’re going to need agents like us to provide that kind of consultation and service.
The fact that a lot of baby boomers and agency owners are getting older and retiring provides a good opportunity for young agents like me. I’m sure a lot of these agency owners around the country don’t necessarily want to sell their book of business to a big nationwide agency. They would probably like to keep their clients local and make sure they’re being taken care of.
Biggest career mistake?
I’m working primarily in commercial lines, and when we’re working with a potential customer, doing applications and loss runs, there are a lot of steps. I had a situation within my first eight months where I made a mistake with a new customer—I didn’t get the loss runs for a specific line of business. I issued the policy and then got the loss runs later, and it turned out they had some big red flags. The company wasn’t very happy with me. It all worked out, but I definitely lost sleep over that.
You make mistakes. There is a pretty big learning curve—it’s not rocket science, but it can be intimidating for somebody who doesn’t know anything about it. And even once you get comfortable, you don’t want to get complacent. I feel like I have a pretty good grasp on things, but I also know I’ve only been in the business for two years. I don’t ever want to stop learning.
Advice for a fellow young agent?
Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. You’re going to get 100 nos before you get your first yes, but you can’t be afraid of getting denied. You have to get comfortable with rejection and just keep truckin’ along. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.
This interview is the second in a series that profiles 10 millennials in the independent insurance industry, based on IA’s July cover story.