America’s Young Insurance Agents Love Their Jobs

A substantial majority of America’s young independent insurance agents — 81 percent —say they have found their permanent career and are in the agency business for the long haul, according to a new Insurance Journal survey.

Also, whether they were born into the business or ended up in it after trying another field, a sizable 83 percent of young agents are optimistic or very optimistic about their own careers as agents, the survey found.

Insurance Journal magazine reports the results of the survey of independent property/casualty insurance agents 40 years old and younger — including salary information and career outlooks — along with the experiences of three young agents in its March 24 issue. The profiled young agents hail from New York, Texas and Wisconsin.

“I wanted a job I could love,” 29-year-old Meghan McGarry told Insurance Journal.

She found it when she first went to work in an independent insurance agency in New York. Four and one-half years later, and now handling small business accounts in the upstate Leeds office for one of the country’s largest independent agencies, Marshall & Sterling, Inc., McGarry is totally upbeat about her career choice.

“I’m very optimistic. For myself, the sky’s the limit. It really is what you make it,” she says.

Patrick Watkins has been around the agency business a bit longer than McGarry—14 years in all— but still qualifies as a young agent and still sounds like he can’t believe his own good fortune in being an agency owner at the age of 37.

“I love it. I love every minute of it. Even when I’m talking about being overwhelmed, I say that with a smile on my face. It gets me up early, energetic and going as hard as I can every day and I just love it. It’s wonderful,” Watkins, one of five principals in Watkins Insurance Group in Austin Texas. told Insurance Journal.

Wisconsin’s Bart Straka is more reserved but every bit as committed to his agency career. At age 39, Straka only has a short time left to be classified as a young agent but he’s making the most of it. He was recently named Young Agent of the Year by the National Association of Professional Insurance Agents in part for supporting efforts to attract more young people to the business.

In the rural Wisconsin agency—TRICOR Inc. headquartered in Lancaster – where he has worked for 16 years, Straka is mentoring and managing a team of about 17 commercial lines producers, some of whom are as young — 23 — as he was when he began in the business.

“I feel very good about it, ” he says of where he is in his agency career. “I love that our owners bring new young people in every year, people who are growing and adding to our business. That keeps it exciting.”

The enthusiasm of McGarry, Watkins and Straka is not an anomaly.
Whether relative rookies like McGarry, or young veterans like Watkins and Straka, a substantial majority of young agents — 81 percent —say they have found their permanent career and are in it for the long haul, according to the Insurance Journal survey.

Also, whether they were born into the business like Watkins or ended up in it after trying another field like McGarry, a substantial 83 percent of young agents are optimistic or very optimistic about their own careers as agents, the survey found.

The Insurance Journal online survey was completed by 356 independent agents between the ages of 20 and 40 during the first 12 days of March.

The full report on the survey of young agents appears in the March 24 issue of Insurance Journal magazine. It includes 101 Things Agents Like Most About Being Independent Agents— and 50 Things They Like Least.

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