Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Day in the Life of an Elderly Rookie Insurance Agent: PART I

Back on June 23rd Thomas wrote in the comments of my blog post:
When you get a little time, please blog a little about what all an insurance agent does. (I have only a vague understanding.) Is it a career you would recommend?

For the past month I’ve been spending nine to thirteen hours a day being an insurance agent. Now I am beginning what is technically a 4-day holiday weekend and I have the opportunity to do something besides try to sell insurance! Part of that “something” is responding to Thomas and writing about trying to sell insurance.

My primary disclaimer about this post revolves around my having only been an insurance agent for one month. In the process of obtaining the insurance licenses, I have studied quite a bit and since beginning work I have learned more, especially experientially. That still makes me far from being an expert!

As I have done more than once in writing about a “typical day” of being a church pastor, this morning I reviewed my logs and journals and have created the following “typical day” of being an elderly rookie insurance agent:

8:00 a.m.: Arrive at the insurance office for coffee and bull-session with my four comrade agents. The topics of the discourse run from sports to the morning newspaper to sports to the bizarre to sports, with a few stories of yesterday’s insurance successes and failures slipped in—rather what one would expect of five males between the ages of 24 and 60.

While this bull-session is going on, some of the agents are processing the previous day’s activities: preparing insurance proposals and policies written for submission to the company’s central office in Alabama; creating file folders on new clients; asking the manager or the secretary clarifying questions about specific policies or company procedure. One or two many be planning their day’s activates, something I generally do at home the night before.

8:30 a.m.: Debbie, the manager, gives an “inspirational” speech to motivate us, hands out new directives and information from the home office, and tells us to begin telephoning businesses. (Telephoning individual clients and prospective clients prior to 10:00 a.m. is prohibited; however, telephoning businesses is not).

The telephone calls to businesses are directed at their personnel or human resources people. Most of the policies we offer—some specifically—are part of employee benefits packages. These are called the “Worksite Advantage” plan and relate to Internal Revenue Code Section 125 that allows employees of businesses with ten or more workers to purchase insurance with pre-tax dollars. They benefit both the employer and the employee: they reduce the employee’s taxable income and thus the employer’s FICA contributions. As such, this is the most economical way in which to purchase additional insurance over the basic benefits plan offered by a business to its employees. The catch for us agents is that we must first contact and gain the approval of the company before we can offer these to the company’s employees during the (usually) one month window each year when employees may view and purchase additional benefits.

10:00 a.m.: Some of the agents begin telephoning individuals to set up appointments for the day; others leave to begin visiting previously made appointments. I am usually among the latter.

10:20 a.m.: I arrive at a home in the West End of Louisville to give a parent 4 “Child Safe” kits for her four children. I have made this appoints previously in response to the parent’s request for these kits from a display we set up at her children's day care center. These kits allow parents to gather in one spot identifying information, including photo and fingerprints, of their children in case—God forbid—the child disappears. The information is immediately available to be provided to law enforcement by the parent.

After demonstrating how to construct the kit and giving the parent five of them (one extra “just in case” one kit is messed up: fingerprinting small children is not easy!), I ask her permission to do a “five minute survey” regarding her family’s insurance needs. In the survey process I learn that the woman not only dues has insurance needs, but truly desires life insurance on her self. I offer her a couple of options based upon what she expresses as her needs and how much she can afford to pay. We agree on a $10.000.00 whole life policy which will cover her “final expenses”—burial and outstanding debts—in the event of her death. The cost to her would be $11.87 per month. Unfortunately, the only way my insurance company will allow premiums to be paid on a monthly basis is via automatic bank withdrawal and this woman has no bank account. I offer her a free (for the first year and $10.00 per year afterwards) $3,000.00 accidental death policy on herself that includes $1,000.00 accidental death benefits on each of her children. She accepts and I gather the information for the policy application. We make an agreement: I will return when I receive the issued policy from the home office to give her the policy and, in the meantime, she will attempt to open a bank account. I leave her information on what we have discussed and my business card, asking her to call me if I can be of any service.

10:55 a.m.: I attempt four more deliveries of Child Safe kits in the same geographic area and find no one at home, even though I have made previous contact and appointments. At each residence I place on the doorknob of the front door a picture of the kits, their purpose, and my business card.

This post has taken me through about noon of a “typical” day as a rookie insurance agent. I will continue to the day in my Part II post tomorrow.


  1. Sounds pretty busy. I hope it's going well for you.

  2. Do you stop to take a breath??
    You've been missed in the bloggersphere...glad you're back!

  3. Interesting. I look forward to reading part 2.

  4. My ex was an insurance agent and I remember the time and effort he placed into making appoints, meeting with them and gathering facts to make the sales pitch. A very tasking process which requires patience, people skills and a lot of empathy and sympathy too. Nice post!

  5. Glad you're back blogging. I was missing you.

  6. Your work sounds complicated. I rather prefer what I do.

  7. Hi Nick ~~ Your job sounds very time consuming. I hope you are finding it
    better than when you started, and
    starting to enjoy it. Also hope you are still enjoying a 4-day holiday
    to catch up on other things.
    Nick, did Tiffany write that article Special Angels? She posted it and that is where I found it. I did not know whether to give her credit (or you) It is lovely anyway as are some of herother posts. I hope her life is going better now. Take care,

  8. Wow, not even noon and already I'm exhausted!

  9. I agree with Thomas.

  10. SQUIRL: Thank you. I’m still in the stage of learning what I am doing, experimenting with better and smarter ways of doing it, and developing resources to help in the process.

    MICHELLE: Actually, breathing is one of my major problems! Perhaps I’ll write more about that later.

    AZONOFAGUN: Part II is now posted, Rex!

    BLIZEGIAL: Of the process, patience may be what I lack most. Thanks for sharing and visiting my blog.

    ABBY: Thank you. I missed writing.

    NIKI: I prefer what I used to do. I miss pastoring and the work of serving God.

    MERLE: Yes, very time consuming, especially for the rewards: I figured I have been working for seventy-five cents an hour. I rather doubt that Tiffany wrote much of her blog; she is best at finding neat stuff, copying and pasting. Please continue to pray for her—she is in great need at the moment.

    THOMAS: I usually am tired by noon and really in need of a siesta.

    EX-LOUISVILLE GUY: See above.

    JOY: Yes it is; much more so than I had realized.

  11. You leaving those child-safety kits is such an important service-
    a Saintly Nick delivery in July:)

    Thanks for the fascinating write up!

  12. Hey,
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    I am a musician, and I would be honored if you would check out my music. All music on my site is free for download. Anyway, don't want to be a pest, I just thought that I'd share.

    "All my music is free."