I never pictured myself selling insurance. On the contrary, before I began my career in this industry, I was an entrepreneur. My own business had recently matured past the awkward adolescent phase and I could finally afford something besides beans and rice for dinner. Yet, thanks to a deceased aunt, I owned a share of the family insurance agency. When my father’s health began to deteriorate, I soon found myself in his office, sitting across from his desk, running the agency and selling whenever I could.
And I enjoyed it.
Early one day as I was reading through an ISO commercial general liability form (yawn), my father leaned back in his 1950’s metal-framed desk chair. White fluff protruded through cracks in its turquoise vinyl padding. He propped elbows on arm rests and touched his fingertips together, a tell that he was about to proffer a dose of particularly valuable wisdom.
“You need to understand, son, that what we do is important. Insurance steps into some of the most difficult situations imaginable and tries to make people whole.”
I smiled and nodded as he expounded further, but only realized much later how profound his statement had been. Over the years, that truth has intensely affected how I view our industry.
People, we do valuable work.
When a neighbor’s house is destroyed by fire, it is the insurance company that steps in and begins the process to rebuild what was lost. Many organizations and businesses help during a time of crisis, but none other commits in such a significant manner. And what is insurance, except the sharing of risk? Therefore, whenever a claim is paid, all policy holders participate, even if only in concept. At its core, insurance is a community, one neighbor helping another.
Insurance steps into some of the most difficult situations imaginable and tries to make people whole.”
While driving with my father on client visits, he enjoyed explaining other benefits of our industry. I usually sat rigid in the passenger seat, marveling how slow his reaction times had become, pondering whether my life insurance policy was paid up. But between fits of terror, his words never ceased to offer insight. He explained how insurance is an enabler and multiplier of our economy. Without it, few financial institutions would loan money to purchase cars since the coverage ensures the bank is paid back should the vehicle be in an accident. Therefore, a healthy insurance market means more auto sales, which means more raw materials purchased, more parts manufactured, and more factory workers employed, all leading to more money in circulation. And this multiplication effect is far-reaching; the auto industry is but one example. Think of the implications to home ownership and the real estate market.
Applied to business, the impact can be even more striking. What would the New York skyline look like without insurance? Instead of the lighted spires in our featured photo, it would likely be no more than ten stories high because few would invest so heavily in a structure constantly at risk. Across all industries throughout the entire world, investment in physical plants and assets would be severely limited, flattening the economy. In this manner, insurance raises our standard of living.
Not only does insurance protect tangible property, but it shields individuals and businesses from a myriad of liabilities. No matter on which side of the courtroom, coverage delivers value. It protects defendants while at the same time represents a means for plaintiffs to recover.
Do not be deceived by the negative stereotypes so popular today. I may have only been in this industry for a decade, but contrary to popular belief, have never seen an insurance company avoid their responsibility to pay a claim. Instead, I have observed claims agents scouring policies, trying to find a clause that would allow them to compensate for an otherwise uncovered loss.
I encourage everyone in the insurance industry to take pride in the benefits and value of our work. It is a story we need to tell at every opportunity. Insurance pays. It protects the assets of our clients in a meaningful manner. It allows entrepreneurs and businesses the freedom to take financial risk. Upon it, an economy is built.
Yes, agent, what you do is important.
David McCaleb LinkedIn
David is an insurance agent and marketer at Bankers Insurance LLC.