What America’s Young Insurance Agents Like Most About Being Agents

April 4, 2008

According to a new Insurance Journal survey, among the many things America’s young independent insurance agents like about their jobs is the money. Forty-three percent pull in between $51,000 and $100,000 a year, with a healthy 22 percent earning in excess of that.

About 35 percent — typically recruits still in their early years — earn under $50,000.

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

The survey asked agents to identify what they like the most about being an independent agent.

Even more than the actual dollars, agents appreciate that as independent agents they have freedom and flexibility to influence— if not control —how much money they make.

When agents were asked what they like most about being an agent, the comments reflected this sentiment:

“There is no cap on what can be earned,” one agent wrote.

Another cited “the possibility of making huge sums of money.”

“The freedom to make as much money as I want and make my own hours,” commented another.

“As an agent you are the owner of your own little business. You control how much money you make or don’t make in your agency,” said one other.

A number of young agents cited the flexibility and reasonableness of working hours as a plus. According to the Insurance Journal survey, 57 percent work between 35 and 45 hours a week.

Insurance Journal magazine reports the results of the survey in its March 24 issue. The report also profiles three young agents — 29 year old Meghan McGarry of New York; 37 year old Patrick Watkins of Texas; and 39 year old Bart Straka of Wisconsin — and gives their views on their agency careers.

Watkins suggests the number of hours an agent works might come down to personality. How many hours does he work? “It depends on whom you ask,” Watkins admits. “If you ask my wife, it’s about 100 hours a week.”

Watkins acknowledges that the industry provides a less stressful environment for those who want that, even if he doesn’t take advantage of it.

With the additional stress, however, comes the bigger paycheck.

“If you have someone that wants to make $50,000 to $100,000 a year and that’s a nice lifestyle for those folks, then I would think you would have a lot of flexibility and not a tremendous amount of stress. But obviously when you start wanting to have incomes of $200,000 or $300,000, it can definitely be very stressful.”

Beyond the money and hours, what young agents report they like most about their jobs are intangibles like the freedom, the relationships they make, meeting new people, the ability to help their customers, the knowledge they gain and the challenge of keeping up with changes.

Some of the survey comments on what agents like most highlight these qualities:

“You can never say it’s boring or it’s the same old thing.”

“Learning all the time; it is a challenge.”

“My customers depend on my knowledge and trust what insurance programs I offer to them.”

“I like that it is a relationship business; you meet a lot of different people and learn about several different business operations, making many contacts and friends along the way.”

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.

Click here to get the issue.

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