Changing Employee Demographics Push Insurers to Focus on Strategic Recruitment

By | August 9, 2016

  • August 9, 2016 at 1:45 pm
    Doug Spencer says:
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    Since we have focused on the P & C side we have been more stable. We were able to avoid most of the life and medical insurance drama during the last 10 years.
    We believe that being independent agent may be more stable then being a carrier or captive agent. The insurance industry has been a real blessing for our family. If industry was perceived as “fun” then more quality talent would stay or want to be a part of the daily action.

    • August 9, 2016 at 3:07 pm
      Agent says:
      Hot debate. What do you think?
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      Correct Doug. Companies seem to have much more trouble attracting quality people for job opportunities. We also got out of the Health business after Obamacare to focus on P&C.

      Millenials may be ok for technical work with companies, but they have almost no ability to sell and many have abrasive personalities so it must be a huge challenge for companies to hire them. Personality tests should be a must to cull the “anger management” people out.

  • August 9, 2016 at 2:08 pm
    Charmagne Richardson says:
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    None

  • August 9, 2016 at 2:22 pm
    Justin says:
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    Recruitment is the smallest piece of the pie in trying to attract Millennials. Culture plays a much bigger part in attracting and retaining the next generation. Right now insurers are seen as stalwarts of a bygone era which is more Mad Men than Google. Changing management attitude from one of a hierarchical mentality to a creative and collaborative one is the only way insurers will keep the Millennials they manage to recruit. If that isn’t addressed no amount of recruiting changes will make an impact over the long term. The benefits of these changes will organically boost recruitment, changing the dynamic from being a workplace that younger folks ignore to a workplace THEY will seek out.

    • August 9, 2016 at 5:28 pm
      Agent says:
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      Justin, you are right about the changing culture and Millennials. My questions is whether Millennials are willing to change their personality to fit in with what companies expect. Can they be better people persons, get along with their peers, agents they are dealing with? It is all about attitude and if a person has a good attitude, they will do fine in the business. If not, they won’t be there long and will continue to blame someone else if they fail.

      • August 10, 2016 at 9:45 am
        txmouthbreatherboogereatertx says:
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        Agent,

        Things will improve on the independent side of things once your generation is out of the picture and we can finally check that box on your report card that says “works well with others”.

        Both sides can be to blame but you can’t change personality and your age bracket isn’t teeing off on the first hole in terms of their career.

        In my experience in M&A, it’s all too common for principals do get in over their heads and watch these agencies crumble over time. Most of the time the principal has no prior management experience (account management is not management), has always worked in a mom and pop environment, and/or has never worked for someone other than their own family. Even worse, we are finding insurance becoming what I would call a non-financial field.

        Finance is made up of Banking, Investments, Real Estate, Insurance, and a few other odds and ends. All are which are competitive fields. What you can blame millennials for is the fact by and large they are not studying these types of fields and are heavily in the visual arts, psychology, poli-sci and other social sciences. Although these can be analytical fields, the are not fields of production.

        The insurance industry, whether in the IA channel or carrier is only left with this pool to choose from which also drives salaries lower. This in turn will not attract more desired fields of study.

      • August 12, 2016 at 6:06 pm
        Justin says:
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        You pose an interesting question. Personality conflicts are a very interesting subject between generations and I think the cause is usually a lack of willingness to consider doing something differently to improve a process or create a “blue ocean” for those who have read that book. It’s very clear that any young person can offer substantial value to an organization if they are allowed to be creative and are in an environment that supports and encourages creativity and new ideas. Just look at companies like Google, Facebook and Snapchat which were devised by young folks with fresh ideas and a different set of experiences that led them there. Wisdom and experience can be a great resource but it can also create a narrow focus and fear of change that lets opportunity slip right by. That’s why a collaborative approach rather than a hierarchical approach can be so successful (not saying get rid of traditional management structure, just how it is applied). Unfortunately, the insurance industry follows the exact opposite approach in most cases. Ideas are squashed because “that’s the way it’s always been done”, band-aids are slapped on outdated systems and when new systems are devised they get no input from young folks who are literally experts at interface design because they grew up on computers so the systems companies spend hundreds of thousands or millions building are broken from the start. Heck, some insurance companies have gone back to making the men wear ties to work every day. Yep that sounds like a place that will attract a younger demographic. Will our industry ever be quite as shiny and attractive as Tech or Consulting? Probably not but we can certainly polish the wheels with simple things like a splash of color on the walls, creative team projects that get the mind flowing and help the company at the same time while making the employee feel valued, moving away from production driven and towards a customer centric value driven culture, etc. Some insurers are catching on and will have success. Those that don’t will get left in the dust.

    • August 9, 2016 at 5:58 pm
      UW says:
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      Many don’t mind the hierarchical structure if there is a chance at advancement. Many places I’ve been don’t offer that to younger workers. If you knew you had little chance at advancement regardless of your performance, and the pay was at best average, there is no reason you would go there if you were a top or even mid-tier candidate. Also nepotism is a much bigger problem (or perk depending on your background) in insurance than in other industries. You make great points though.

    • August 10, 2016 at 8:25 am
      Yogi Polar Berra says:
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      Offer Millennials 500 bonus Pokemon points to join an insurance company.

      • August 10, 2016 at 10:50 am
        Agent says:
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        Good humor Yogi. The young trolls don’t like it much as usual. I see the boogereater is at it again. How that dude ever got hired in this industry in any capacity is beyond me. If his employer knew what he was up to, the cardboard box would be handed to him immediately. The young really don’t want to work for it anymore, just give them the free stuff. The insurance business has been built by people who get off their butt and get out there and bring it in, not the order takers who blog on IJ all day every day.

        • August 10, 2016 at 11:56 am
          txmouthbreatherboogereatertx says:
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          Agent,

          This dude abides! That’s how. It’s pretty easy to figure out how I got into the industry and have worked my way to where I am.

          1 – Have the preliminary credentials to obtain said job and produce right from the get go with a large company, not small mom and pop. Career is over if you stay small too long.

          2 – Accept all training/licensing opportunities provided and paid for and employ what you learn. Continue to educate yourself through out your career.

          3 – Always be willing to relocate and do it. Being the big fish in a little pond has no value in it. You are either too scared to move or underachieving.

          4 – It’s proven that humans can live with out getting married, so don’t do it.

          5 – Never stay in the same position/job function you started in. You will create little value in yourself if you do.

          6 – Don’t be intimidated, it will only makes you stronger and more valuable

          I don’t work in the service side of the industry Agent, and my employers are not micro management task masters. Large in part because we are experienced professionals and motivate ourselves.

          I have several liberties at work because I’m willing to spend nearly 14 months in and around Longview, Texico heading up other motivated professionals and get results. Soon I will probably have another assignment in the next few months in another disgusting area and my posts will be sparse at best.

          The IA channel is saturated in both capital and the ability to function with the number or agencies nationwide and no one is reinventing the wheel.

          As for your cardboard box theory, I tell micro managers they failed as I hand them the cardboard box, because they got into the business to use it as an ATM or for other lifestyle choices. Sometimes it was perpetuated to them when it never should have and they get a big head. Other times is those trying to show losses for tax advantages. No matter what, they never get anywhere near full asking price for the agency because it’s never worth what they thought they put into it to begin with.

  • August 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm
    Jim Hannon says:
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    Hiring experienced professionals back into the game (even as part-timers or consultants) seems to be a win-win. Companies can fill gaps, utilize seasoned insights, and continue to pass the wealth of knowledge through mentorship. Couple that with tailored hiring approaches to millennials, might smooth the transition to the next committed workforce.

    • August 9, 2016 at 5:49 pm
      Agent says:
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      Jim, perhaps you saw the good DeNiro movie – The Intern. A very fine film of how a veteran was hired to work with Millenials to mentor them. They learned a lot from him on how to work and he was pleasant and they learned manners as well.

      • August 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm
        UW says:
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        Also, most importantly, a complete work of fiction.

        Why spend money to hire older workers as mentors when the entire problem is that the industry is overflowing with older workers? Have current employees act as mentors, and actually train employees.

        Only you would recommend hiring older workers in order to attract younger workers.

  • August 9, 2016 at 3:20 pm
    reality bites says:
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    “Making insurance fun”. About as stupid an oxymoron as Military Intelligence.

    I am approaching my 40th anniversary in this field and all I could tell anyone with half a brain (including both of my kids) is to stay away and use their God-given talents in a more lucrative field.

    I am sick and tired of execs who say “now we have the capital to go get the right people” or “collect the resumes of people who would want to work here because when we hit our streak we need to be ready”.

    Meritocracies do not exist anymore. I want to see a better place where non-production incentives are meaningful. And where more than those with equity come away happy.

    • August 11, 2016 at 1:17 pm
      M. Prankster says:
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      The only agency I know of who boasts of being a meritocracy has a branch office that is being sued by the EEOC. Good ole boys being good ole boys, fun stuff.

  • August 9, 2016 at 3:30 pm
    ExciteBiker says:
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    Very few companies continue to provide the level of training & development that is necessary in our business. I’ve seen younger employees burn out because they were left to learn on their own in a ‘sink or swim’ culture.

    I also think there are false assumptions and fictions about so-called ‘millennials.’

    Example 1– there is no such thing as a millennial. Strike that word from your vocabulary. A person born in 1982 in a house furnished with a rotary phone and a TV with a UHF/VHF switch was already a young adult when the internet became available to consumers, whereas a person born in 2002 came into a world with broadband internet access and flat panel HDTVs showing 24/7 news cycles. Yet the word ‘millennial’ encompasses both groups. These are diverse people with drastically different life experiences and perspectives, and it is a mistake to try to stereotype, generalize or otherwise reduce those experiences into powerpoint bullet points.

    Example 2–what data suggests younger workers are interested in chatting online with a recruiter or interacting 24/7 on social media with a prospective employer? This seems like a fiction. I hear younger workers express far more practical concerns. I have never once heard a phrase like “If only I had been able to connect with XYZ corp on SnapChat”

    • August 9, 2016 at 6:06 pm
      UW says:
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      Great points. After reading one of these articles recently right around May (college graduation season) I searched Indeed and another alumni job site too see how many underwriter trainee positions there were in a few big cities and there were only a handful. Instead of focusing on all this other crap they should start with the most obvious steps. The problem is HR-based or something they aren’t actually trying to address now.

    • August 24, 2016 at 1:37 pm
      Drew says:
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      I agree 100% about training and development. Learning on your own is tough because in many circumstances you’re expected to do it on your own time. This is compounded by the fact that in many instances, people are having to moonlight doing something else to pay off student loans and such.

      Regarding your “Example 1”. Thank you. It makes no sense to lump together such a wide group when there are clearly 2 groups here.

      Regarding your “Example 2”. Thanks for calling BS what it is.

  • August 9, 2016 at 3:34 pm
    UW says:
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    Any career is as fun as you want to make it. I’m telling my kids this: where are you going to find a career with decent pay, good benefits, 4 weeks of vacation and reasonable job security? That’s what I have working for my second carrier.

    I’ve got 15+ years of experience, 10 on the carrier side. No agency ever gave me 4 weeks of PTO, no agency ever will unless I have a massive book and then I’ll never really take time off because I’ll have to service that monster. My pay is good, not far from triple digits when you include bonus and retirement funding from company. I work from home and have a ton of flexibility, a company car, company credit card, etc. Workload is heavy but manageable, less stress here than the two independent agencies I worked for (one bank owned & small, another a large broker with 500+ employees).

    I think millennials are just typical young people of many generations: they want it all now. They’ll learn, slowly, like we did that you’ve got to work at it first.

    • August 9, 2016 at 3:59 pm
      Agent says:
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      Wow, almost a decent post from UW. Aren’t you the one who bragged that he owned his own agency with 6 employees? By the way, those of us who worked for both a company and in the agency business would much prefer the agency side. It is far too political with companies and they are always changing things up, often for the worse. They move people around constantly, lay them off when business is in a slump, get acquired by a larger company with the changes that ensues and many jobs are changed out to the acquiring companies plan. Agents are always having to adjust to all those changes, wholesale changing of underwriters. We roll with the punches and keep our operation stable. Hard work does pay off in the end.

      • August 9, 2016 at 5:52 pm
        UW says:
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        It’s from somebody other than the normal UW who posts here, which is me. Since you think it’s not even a decent post though, what exactly in it do you have a problem with?

        Also, everything I’ve posted, including my name, would indicate that I’m not an agent with my own agency, so I will accept your apology for thinking I bragged.

        • August 10, 2016 at 12:16 pm
          Agent says:
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          UW, anyone ever accuse you of being an Agency basher? Guess what, you whine and make a big deal of “no agency ever gave me 4 weeks of PTO” Successful agents do not have time clocks, set salary and limited opportunities. Successful agents can take a lot of time off if they like and by the way, have good CSR’s to manage their books when they are gone. Successful agents win trips from companies for outstanding production to some great places, all expenses paid. I have been on a lot of them and they were all very nice. Excuse me for “confusing” you with your running mate Confused. I have a hard time separating conjoined twins.

  • August 9, 2016 at 8:27 pm
    UW Junior says:
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    Hello – sorry to take someone else’s screen name, from now on I’ll use UW Junior.

    I started out on the captive side of the industry as a PL agent. That went fairly well but was not making enough money after 4 years.

    Bank agency: got screwed. They said one thing, hired me, did another. By the end of the first week realized I had made a grave error in judgment. Tried for 9 months to either adjust or fix situation, gave up.

    Large independent agency: got screwed. I was brought in to manage a department and was told new-lost=net production. OK. What I did not know was that their PL book was all senior citizens who were dying or moving away. It was SOP to move businesses to my area that were shrinking or going out of business so I ate the lost revenue. Even though in my 3 years I brought in 2x my salary in NB revenue, plus increased contingency revenue, it was not enough to offset the lost revenue and make what I discovered were unreasonable revenue increase goals. I also dug them out of a significant E&O hole they were in, that was barely acknowledged. Extremely stressful, backbiting, political environment. I started the hypertension meds at that job.

    Carrier #1: salary nearly doubled in 5 years. Excellent bonuses. Great training, superb benefits. Modest travel. Expense account. Acknowledged by top management for success. Two promotions. Learned a lot and had a blast. Then I stepped out of the industry for a few years for ministry.

    Carrier #2: decent salary, good bonuses. Great training, good benefits. Modest travel. Promotion. Learning more and having fun, working outside of the usual P&C box. Planning on staying here for a while.

    Agent, the few people I’ve met who have worked for both agency & company agree with you & say they like the agency side better. Not me. In 3 agency gigs (including captive agency owner) I never made enough to support my family or save for retirement even though I was routinely acknowledged as a strong producer.

    In my two carrier roles I’ve been blessed to be in the top tier for underwriting production & loss ratio and feel I’ve been fairly compensated I’m putting 13% of my check into the 401…because I can afford to now, never could on the agency side.

    • August 10, 2016 at 10:23 am
      Agent says:
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      So Jr, sorry for your bad experience on the agency side. For every bad story on the agency side, there are 10 on the company side. By the way, you were working the wrong side of the street in the agencies. Commercial Lines is where the commission income is with agents. Most young producers who write Commercial just supplement with Personal Lines of business owners they write. It also sounds like you were handed books of Personal Lines business. Could you not work referrals for more prospects?

      By the way, sorry to disappoint you, but the sky is pretty much unlimited for Independent Agents who get after it and have the drive to go get the business. I have put a lot of SEP IRA money away for years, far higher than any 401K sponsored by a company. Glad you are happy in your new job and hope you do well.

      • August 24, 2016 at 1:07 pm
        Drew says:
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        Agent – I hate to say it, but I’ve seen many similar experiences to UW Junior and very very few of the “sky is unlimited” experiences in my 13+ years in the industry. Simply put, those agencies which stay true to their word and reward their employees keep those employees. The others churn and burn at a fairly rapid pace and you can’t trust a single incentive or commission split agreement they offer. It doesn’t matter how hard you work if the agency is actively trying to undermine paying what was agreed to.

  • August 10, 2016 at 8:28 am
    Yogi Polar Berra says:
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    Perhaps insurance will be much more mechanized via geeky actuaries models in the future, and won’t need as many grunts to do the work? Marketing via the internet, and processing some small claims from afar, rather than visiting the site, will also cut costs and human involvement. BOT, what do I know? I’m just a bit smarter than your average Polar Berra.

    • August 11, 2016 at 9:40 am
      Yogi Polar Berra says:
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      I thought many of the ‘fake’ UW’s posts had some merit.

      There was an ‘UW junior’ post with civility and common sense content.

      As for the rest of the fakes, I haven’t seen any distinction in the multiple posts by tx-mouse-breeder and the-most-confused.

      I once or twice saw a post by Boo Polar Boo. Nothing unusual in it.

      • August 11, 2016 at 10:45 am
        Agent says:
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        Correct Yogi. UW is now finding out that someone else using his/her moniker is not to his/her liking. It only infuriates more. When I first read the fake UW post, I thought wow, he/she has perhaps seen the light and no need for cussing,insulting,mocking or other aberrant behavior. Then, the true UW showed up in flying colors followed shortly by the other nasty trolls.

  • August 11, 2016 at 9:48 am
    Yogi Polar Berra says:
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    Perhaps Millennials see what the Federal Govt did to the US Healthcare Insurance industry and are wary to join as employees, over concerns about their long term job security?

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/08/10/obamacare-problems-deepen-as-insurers-scramble-to-stem-losses.html

    • August 11, 2016 at 10:49 am
      Agent says:
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      Yes, I saw that as well. That just about makes it unanimous with the health market, doesn’t it? The “all in” companies like Blue Cross and Aetna may fall into the “too big to fail” category soon the way it is going. What a disaster!

    • August 11, 2016 at 12:05 pm
      Yogi Polar Berra says:
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      ACA is failing at just the right time for Trump to scrap it without any resistance by US citizens.

      Perhaps its’ colossal failure was planned by Gruber, Jarret, Reid and Pelosi, to push for a Single-Payer scheme by Ill-ary (sic)?

      • August 11, 2016 at 4:01 pm
        Agent says:
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        Yogi, it is more than likely that Trump, GW Bush and all Republicans will be blamed by the left wing media for the disaster known as Obamacare. If only the Republicans had not opposed the plan from the start, all would be well now, right? Single payer the way to go as Obama stated when he ran the first time. Hilliary tried her own version as first lady and ran into a stone wall.

      • August 12, 2016 at 10:18 am
        Yogi Polar Berra says:
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        Keep your ear to the ground for a replacement plan with plenty of details. I keep ‘sniffing’ parts of it, and it ‘smells’ good! Plenty of problems are being addressed, and some are proven techniques that worked on other insurance lines. But what the RINOs among the Republicans will do is anyone’s guess.

        • August 12, 2016 at 10:53 am
          confused says:
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          are there any details you’re willing and able to share with us?

          • August 14, 2016 at 9:24 pm
            Yogi Polar Berra says:
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            Soon. Perhaps in a week after I get clarifications on vague things.

          • August 15, 2016 at 1:32 pm
            confused says:
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            you said that 3 weeks ago. you didn’t get any clarification yet?

  • August 11, 2016 at 12:09 pm
    Yogi Polar Berra says:
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    A balance of old and young insurance employees is needed for almost every industry. And older workers are in better health than they were decades ago. So, why is there a push to replace older insurance workers who might work until a later age, e.g. 70?

    I’m not optimistic about Millennials doing anything substantive in the insurance industry until they grow out of their socialist tendencies and yearnings to play computer games and Pokemon Go-outside-the-basement.

    • August 11, 2016 at 12:10 pm
      Yogi Polar Berra says:
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      oops! First sentence above should not have ‘insurance’ in it. mea culpa. I changed my mind, mid-sentence.

      • August 11, 2016 at 3:25 pm
        Agent says:
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        Wow Yogi, you got 14 dislikes for a correction in your post. Something tells me that you and I are on the hate list of the young Progressive Socialist trolls who are so ill informed.

        This current crop on this blog will never learn anything substantive and unfortunately, they never learned right from wrong. The trifecta of Obama, Hilliary & Bernie are their hero’s and they are the gimmee, gimmee, gimmee crowd of entitlements. By the way, I am not anti Millenial. I have a young Millenial partner who is good at what he does, has moral values, knows right from wrong and still Conservative. He knows he is in the minority in that age group and let’s his liberal friends know where they are wrong. They are still friends, but restrict their conversations to sports and they stay civil that way.

        • August 12, 2016 at 10:21 am
          Yogi Polar Berra says:
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          @txmousebreeder: How many mice have you bred today?

      • August 12, 2016 at 10:19 am
        Yogi Polar Berra says:
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        BOTs will do what BOTs do, regardless of content of conservative’s posts.

  • August 11, 2016 at 3:38 pm
    Surmising says:
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    It’s a tough industry for a bright-eyed, bushy tailed youngster to break into, especially if they are idealistic in their attitude. Each company promises how great they are, compared to the competition, yet when claims time comes around they are bound by the terms of the written contract, ususally filed with their respective state insur comm. Most of the prospects want a “cheap” policy, yet they want coverage when they need it.

    That said, it is a good industry to work in, and capitalism could scarcely survive without it. Going forward. we need a little less smoke and mirrors and more straight forwardness, all around.

    • August 11, 2016 at 4:06 pm
      Agent says:
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      Surmising, would you categorize booger, UW, Confused, Planet as bright-eyed and bushy tailed idealists or left leaning losers?

      • August 11, 2016 at 4:31 pm
        confused says:
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        Here’s hoping nobody feeds the troll this time!

      • August 12, 2016 at 11:46 am
        OK says:
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        Give him more fuel… Ask him his feelings on the gays, or on women, or maybe the arabs…. I am sure he has some enlightening perspectives. I bet he can find a way to sum up each group in just a few choice words.

      • August 12, 2016 at 11:48 am
        Surmising says:
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        Agent: They may suffer from what we call “burnout.”

        • August 12, 2016 at 2:20 pm
          Agent says:
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          Surmising, you could be right, but I am more inclined to believe they were not raised right, certainly don’t know right from wrong and later were brain washed by liberal professors on the merits of Progressive Socialism. The failure of the agenda make them go absolutely crazy as you can see from their posts.

  • August 12, 2016 at 10:22 am
    Yogi Polar Berra says:
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    The feeling is NOT mutual. But I’d surmise you are in need of a bath.

    • August 15, 2016 at 11:45 am
      txmouthbreatherboogereatertx says:
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      Um, didn’t you read the corn dog story? Pretty sure she isn’t going to make it.

  • August 12, 2016 at 10:23 am
    Yogi Polar Berra says:
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    Which did you learn to do first: post on the internet or tie your shoelaces?

    • August 12, 2016 at 11:43 am
      Agent says:
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      Yogi, he doesn’t have shoe laces, but slip on sandals. Tying shoe laces would tax his brain too much. Take a guess at who this is, Captain Planet or Boogereater. It is a close race as to which one is goofier.

      • August 12, 2016 at 11:53 am
        confused says:
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        So that’s why Jesus wore sandals!

      • August 15, 2016 at 8:36 am
        txmouthbreatherboogereatertx says:
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        Hi Planet, I had no idea we were competing. They make it sound like we are both republican candidates that in the end will lose to Orangapubes.

        Golly gee all this talk about shoe laces and those dolts aren’t even allowed to have shoelaces because it usually ends up in auto-erotic ligature in their conservative secret society games.

  • August 12, 2016 at 5:54 pm
    nomesaneman says:
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    The hottest cities where major insurance companies are currently heavily recruiting include: Bangalore, Manila, Kuala Lumpur, Prague, Bratislava and Plano.

  • August 15, 2016 at 8:38 am
    txmouthbreatherboogereatertx says:
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    Isn’t Plano, Texico where they film all those fake desert ISIS videos?

  • August 28, 2016 at 12:55 pm
    Rick Morgan says:
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    Catering to millennials is only one option. Reimagining retirement and creating new models for those who want to “phase” into retirement is also part of the solution. This included virtual and work from home models. It also means breaking down the many myths and negative stereotypes regarding older workers. The reality is remote workers are more productive than their office based counterparts and older workers outperform younger workers in a number of key areas.



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