"My educational background is in tech, so it’s been important for me to have an open mind and listen to my peers, especially people that have been in the industry for decades because they want you to succeed," says independent agent Jesus Lopez. "Not being afraid to communicate with them has really helped me advance."
Licensed Sales Agent
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How did you end up at an independent agency?
I went to school to study computer science, but with COVID-19 it was hard to find work. I started doing political campaigning for a local politician and through that, I met Abraham Padron, our agency principal. He told me a bit about the business and I figured to give it a shot. I was able to get licensed within the first month or two and then it just went from there.
What do you enjoy about your role?
I like that it mixes several different skills that I have, like problem-solving. With a mathematical background, I like to apply that to matching policies to clients and then communicating that. I enjoy talking to people and explaining what it is that they're buying. That builds a level of comfort with clients so that they're able to come to me with their problems or refer more clients. You really use both sides of the brain.
What challenges is the insurance industry facing?
Clarity of products. I think a lot of clients come in here not really knowing what they want, what they're buying or what they need. Especially most people my age, they'll download an app and they'll buy a cheap policy but they don't really know what they're buying.
Do you have a mentor?
The local politician I worked for: Mario Rena. We're doing a bond seminar later this month. He comes from an educational background, so he's very much adamant about keeping up with that—both in terms of continuing education (CE) and in general. Abraham has been very encouraging, as well. Two months ago, he helped me get licensed as an adjuster, which has given me extra insight into claims. Now, whenever we deal with claims here in the office, I can walk a client through the whole process.
What insight has the claims adjuster license given you?
Mainly knowing why it takes so long. It really helps to communicate that to clients and make them aware that it is going to be a long process. In the meantime, we can suggest how to take care of their home to make sure there is no further damage.
How are you educating your clients about property exposures in your area?
Wind is the main exposure down here—and occasionally heavy rain. The main problem is that a lot of the roofs haven't been upgraded in 15 years. I really stress to clients that their policy is either actual cash value or is excluding the roof. I recommend they get the roof updated. That way, if and when the next storm comes, they're properly insured.
What advice would you give someone considering a career in insurance?
Come in with an open mind. My educational background is in tech, so it's been important for me to have an open mind and listen to my peers, especially people that have been in the industry for decades because they want you to succeed. Not being afraid to communicate with them has really helped me advance.
I don't think the insurance industry will ever go away, simply because it's either required by law or lenders. I do see a sizeable portion of the population shifting to buy insurance online. But I don't think independent agents are going away either, as long as there are people out there that want to talk face to face about their insurance. People are using apps to get their insurance but it just takes one bad claims experience with one of those services to bring a person back to working with someone face to face.
Any tips for other agents?
I've noticed a lot of my clients love texting. They're teachers or doctors and can't get on their phone for 10 or 15 minutes to discuss a policy. Texting has been instrumental in advancing my business with them.
Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.