He's learned a lot through the years about how to interact with clients and to ultimately close a sale. But, at the profession's core, the
The approach has served Brown, 57, well as he goes about his business of listening to local residents and "uncovering" the insurance needs they may not even know they have. The former
The types of insurance he connects people with include life, disability,
Q. Why did you connect with insurance as a career?
A. I saw the effect that insurance had on families. Of course, growing up in
Q. At it's essence, it's helping people?
A. Yeah, that's really what it's all about. It was a career choice and it really turned into a love. I had an uncle who was in the insurance business in
A. I was a career agent with
But it was really to help people, because I started sitting down with people and realizing that, especially in different cultures, a lot of people did not recognize and realize all the different ways insurance could work for them and their families. I always tell people that insurance is basically for 'you love yourself' or 'you love somebody.' If you think about it, if you love yourself you purchase the disability insurance or purchase cancer insurance, things that will be there to provide income for you to make sure if something was to ever happen to you, you would still be able to survive. If you love someone else, you purchase life insurance and things of that nature.
A. I always tell people in this business that it should be about a relationship. It shouldn't be about pushing a product. It should basically be uncovering needs.
Q. Because they may not know what they need?
A. Right. I tell anyone coming into insurance that this should be a problem-solving business, where you listen. Because you'll have a client say 'I don't want life insurance.' But then that same person will say, 'I want insurance that if something ever happens to me, my home will be paid for.' Well, it's still life insurance ... If you listen, people will tell you what the most important thing to them is.
Q. Disability is a popular coverage?
A. I sell a lot of it. There are companies that specialize in it. A lot of companies specialize in it based on whether you're a blue-collar worker, you're a gray-collar worker, or if you're a white-collar worker. You have companies that specialize in it if you're physicians and lawyers and, say, architects and pharmacists. You have others who deal with more office workers. And you have others that deal with the landscapers, the roofers. ... In this industry, that's the key, knowing which companies target what segments.
A. Since 1996. Technically, a broker works for the individual. An agent works for the company.
A. That's right. After sitting down with people and uncovering their need, we discover from them that, 'You know what, I'm concerned if I get hurt on my job. I've worked for a small employer (maybe less than 50 employees) and they don't offer benefits.' You would be surprised today how many small employers don't offer benefits like that ... Then my job is to say, let's look at what your job is; let's look at what duties you perform on a daily basis. Now let's find the fit, which company fits what you're trying to do.
A. That's correct. Believe it or not, there are over 5,000 different insurance companies ... These are major, extremely large companies. They're multibillion-dollar companies. But they believe they're going to put more of their money into product development (rather than marketing or advertising).
Q. Is it more of a challenge being an independent broker than with a big
A. I actually think it's less of a challenge. Of course, you have to stay abreast of what companies offer, and then you have to apply and be appointed with companies. You know, you're supposed to service your client and it shouldn't be about the product pushing.
I think most of the brokers normally settle on a core group of companies for each different market segment. It's like, I know these five companies are excellent with disability insurance. I know out of these five, though, that these two are great with blue-collar workers. So I know where to take that person.
Q. What is your schedule like?
A. I meet clients outside the office. If it's a physician, of course, I go there. I have clients in
A. It's been challenging, because it forced a lot of people who had never had health insurance before to buy it. It's also been challenging to explain to people how it all works. A lot of them are not aware of what deductibles are or what co-insurances are. It used to be you had an 80/20 plan or whatever. Now they go bronze, silver, gold and platinum (level coverage). So that becomes a challenge sometimes explaining it. But I get great joy out of doing that because when a person leaves and understands it, it makes you feel better that you've helped people.
Q. It's a lot of stuff to keep track of?
A. All the time. You're constantly learning. I have to go to different seminars. Different companies are always rolling out what their new companies are policies are. I have to do webinars. It used to be we had to fly to different places (for education). Now with webinars and everything of that nature, they'll tell you: There's going to be a webinar on Wednesday at 2 o'clock on this particular product. But if you want to be in the business and treat people right, you have to stay abreast of everything. That's why I don't do car insurance and some of those other things. I refer that out.
Q. Is insurance something you can do late into your life?
A. God bless his soul,
Q. It's word of mouth a lot?
A. Sure. It's like someone saying, 'My father has had insurance with you,' or 'My father (or mother) told me to call you to get health insurance.'
A. That's right. This is a relationship business. That was the best advice when I first started that someone said to me. I remember going up to
Q. So it sounds like you don't have any plans to do anything else?
A. I'm not going anywhere. I have a love for this. There's no feeling like it when you know you've helped someone.
(c)2016 the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.)
Visit the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Ga.) at www.ledger-enquirer.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.