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Taking Over: Meet Millennial Agent Jennifer Garriques

Jennifer Garriques says she was born into the insurance industry and expects to take the reins of her family's agency in the future. “I often speak with existing customers who knew my grandfather, and I like hearing those stories,” she says. “It really reminds me of the impact of this job and how important it is.”
Sponsored by

Jennifer Garriques

Vice President
Garriques, Lloyd & McMahon Insurance
Richmond, Virginia

Age: 34
Guilty pleasure TV show: “Outlander”
In your earbuds: a little bit of country and today’s hits
The app you can’t live without: toss-up between Facebook and Instagram
Spotify or Apple Music: Spotify
Netflix or Hulu: Netflix

Why insurance?

I was kind of born into it. My granddad started our agency in the 1960s, and when he retired, my dad took it over. I did not have any interest in working in insurance—I went to college and majored in advertising, so it was my dream to do something in that industry. My dad did offer me a position when I graduated, but I turned it down. I wanted to pave my own path.

I enjoyed working in advertising, but it’s a tough career—lots of long hours. My dad eventually came to me again because I needed something with more personal connection. About eight years ago, I ended up coming here to work at the agency. It was the best choice I ever made.

What’s to love?

Making those personal connections and helping the clients. It’s those simple conversations, building those relationships. I often speak with existing customers who knew my grandfather, and I like hearing those stories. It really reminds me of the impact of this job and how important it is.

Role model?

Definitely my dad. He’s always been my biggest supporter, personally and professionally. He’s taught me everything I know. I continue to learn from him every single day. His ambition and compassion are the biggest reason why our agency has been so successful. And with my advertising background, I’m very thankful that he’s been so open-minded and allowed me to make changes within the agency to help us grow. Having his trust and support means a lot to me.

Embracing change?

When I started here, my dad didn’t even have a website. We weren’t on social media, and we had the same logo from the 1960s from when my granddad started the agency. It was time for a revamp. Now, eight years later, we have a new website for the second time. We rank on top in a Google search, we’re on social media, and we’re gaining more online leads because of all that. Just having an online presence has been huge. Staying on top of those things has really helped us grow.

Proudest achievement?

I handle all the new business in personal lines, and we represent around 10 companies, so you can understand how monotonous it is to input everyone’s information into each of those systems when placing new business. It’s a long process. It was important to me to implement something that would help make it more efficient and allow us to get back to our customers more quickly. I ended up researching comparative raters and we implemented one within the first year of me working here. That’s been a huge game-changer.

Millennial stereotypes?

I think all the generalizations are getting really old. The two that bother me the most are that we’re lazy and we’re entitled—that everything’s just given to us. Growing up, my parents always instilled in me that if I want something, I have to work hard for it. I have always had that mentality.

I graduated college when the economy was at its worst. It was very hard to find a job, but when my dad offered me a position, I turned him down. I could have had an easy-access job, but I ended up working several part-time jobs to make ends meet because I wanted to do my own thing. After I got the advertising agency job, I saved money for two years and bought my first home at 26 by myself, so it’s just not true at all. I’ve always had a very strong work ethic.

Thoughts on perpetuation?

I am the perpetuation plan when my dad retires—I actually just got promoted to vice president earlier this year. Within the next year or so, we’re going to be having those tough conversations and putting things into place to make the transition smoother. I’m excited and nervous at the same time. I want to make my granddad and my dad proud.

Getting involved?

I’m very involved with the Young Agents here in Virginia, and it’s helped me realize that there’s more to my career than just selling insurance. Working with others in the same field has shown me that we really can make a difference. The connections I’ve made have helped me flourish as an agent. It’s given me more self-confidence to make me better at what I do.

Advice for a fellow young agent?

I don’t think people realize that insurance offers so many opportunities for you to develop and mature over time. There’s a lot of enthusiasm and drive in this industry, which is really refreshing. You get to meet new people who you can learn from, and you can take those skills back with you, whether you’re working for a carrier or an agent. We are the future, so it’s important to have mentors and connections who will help us thrive and grow.

Jacquelyn Connelly is IA senior editor.

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

Tuesday, June 2, 2020
Perpetuation & Valuation