For insurance agents Gary Trippe and Jim Pender, the idea for DVIC, or Disabled Veterans Insurance Careers, which aims to provide disabled veterans with employment in insurance, evolved in part from their own personal experiences dealing with disabled family members. The two have also been active in their communities for years on behalf of disabled children and their families.
“We initially started out thinking about hiring disabled people, and the genesis of that idea was that in the electronic age where we live, when you think about it, disabled people have some opportunities through those systems that they have never had before,” Pender told Insurance Journal.
“As we explored that, we were encouraged by friends from Chubb to concentrate on the military veterans and make sure that we got that piece right.”
That’s what they decided to do.
“[A]s we got more into dealing with the subject of these heroes and heroines who are coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan, the way we fight our wars today, we realize that there are thousands of them, and there’s a place for them in our industry, some of them. We think we can offer them meaningful careers, and if we can do a good job of that, we’re going to be a full buffet of issues before us,” said Pender, who is himself a Vietnam veteran.
Pender envisions a young person who is missing legs or arms or has another disability coming home to an uncertain future. “They might live to be 105 in today’s world through the state of medicine, the way it is. At age 20 or 26 or whatever, to not have a meaningful career path ahead of you is just unthinkable. We want to change that.”
If the agents’ dream comes true, disabled vets will be given the training and technology they need to work from home and insurance employers will be given access to a network of trained insurance sales and customer services reps through DVIC.
DVIC co-founders Pender and Trippe are both principals with BB&T-Oswald Trippe and Co., a leading independent insurance agency, which is based in Fort Myers, Florida.
Joining them in launching DVIC are other executives from Oswald-Trippe and people from Marsh & McLennan, Bankers Insurance, The Sullivan Group (California), Chubb, Rutherfoord, Marsh Berry, NetVU, Rough Notes Co., Knapp Consultants and Assurex, along with leaders from the military and the United Way.
While dozens of insurance companies are involved with veterans and disabled citizens in a variety of ways, Pender and Trippe believe their organization will be unique in its mission of creating meaningful employment for veterans in a virtual environment.
“We will enable those who have served and sacrificed for our country the ability to become trained and licensed in sales and support for participating insurance agencies across the country,” said Trippe. “We will also minimize or eliminate the burdens often associated with their physical challenges. One hundred percent of the work our people will train for can be accomplished with a telephone and a computer.”
Through the Veterans Administration and community organizations, DVIC will recruit disabled veterans who wish to participate in a 12-month online professional sales and customer service training. DVIC aims to use state-of-the-art training techniques and the latest technology in its efforts.
The group is working with an accredited university to offer insurance education and will work with other organizations and consultants to provide customized sales training and licensing. Training will focus on skills for sales support and cross-selling personal insurance products.
In addition, DVIC will work with agents, brokers and insurance companies to create employment opportunities for the veterans.
“We will contract with those agencies to cross-sell to their existing accounts, so that agency will be entering into an agreement with DVIC to outsource their selling of personal insurance products to existing clients of the agency. That’s the concept and the model that we plan to use,” said Trippe.
Both Pender and Trippe are well aware of the industry’s interest in finding ways to attract young talent and think this interest may contribute to DVIC’s success.
“[T]he disabled veterans that are coming back to the U.S. are mission-driven; they’re tech-savvy; they’re highly trained and mature beyond their years,” said Pender. “They might not have all the physical capabilities that are needed and they may not be able to get out of their house or whatever. However, all of what I just said is there, that’s what you’re looking for in a leader and a good worker. Our hope is that we someday will have some of them in the executive suites of the carriers or the agencies. I’m going to be very disappointed if we don’t.”
They expect to have their first recruits by the end of March.
To listen to Pender and Trippe explain the DVIC mission in their own words, click here.
More from P/C Insurance Mission: Military-Friendly Recruiting
Insurance Journal set out to learn more about how the insurance industry is turning to veterans as part of its strategy to win the talent war and how veterans are turning to the insurance industry for new careers. Insurance Journal asked several veterans who have transitioned to careers in the insurance industry to tell how they got into insurance, how their military training has been an advantage and how they made the transition into the private sector.
Insurance Journal is publishing stories from a veteran who is now a vice president of underwriting, former soldiers who are now members of a unique global crisis team and a Coast Guard veteran who is now a Main Street independent agent, along with a story about two agents and their dream of building a program to employ disabled veterans in virtual insurance jobs. Watch for: