This article written by Harrison Scheider, AVP & Environmental Issues Broker at America Risk Management Resources Network and originally appeared on InsNerds.com
Hello my fellow insurance aficionados. [tweet_dis]For most, a career in the #insurance industry is not something that is planned.[/tweet_dis] The thought of reading through policy language believe it or not, is not what most high school or college students dream of. As crazy as it might seem, this is exactly what I saw myself doing. I can’t say I fell into the insurance industry but more that I decided the insurance industry is where I could be the most competitive with my talents and background.
I grew up in an insurance family. My grandmother started us off by forging a 20 year career at a large national insurance carrier. Following her footsteps, her sons become retail insurance agents with my father running his own agency in northern Wisconsin. This is how I was taught the ropes of the insurance industry. I worked in my parent’s agency from the time I was fourteen doing everything from cleaning toilets to checking commission reports and running quotes. This is where my desire to be in the insurance industry as a career began.
Most would assume I would continue that path and work for my parents once I completed college but my father had a rule of not allowing family members to work for him until they had learned the industry somewhere else first. This put a pickle in my plans as I graduated college. I knew I was going to “do insurance” but just didn’t know how. I did things a little backwards in college. By the time I graduated I had a small family, two twin boys, and a girlfriend (who would eventually become my wife) to support. I had to get moving quickly, and the insurance industry provided an avenue for me to build a solid start for my family relatively quickly.
There were [tweet_dis]so many avenues I could go into in the #insurance world. I could have gone into underwriting, claims, marketing, or sales.[/tweet_dis] I must have interviewed for 10 different positions, and I finally decided on sales as my father did. This made perfect sense to me as I could make my own future. The harder I worked the more opportunities I would have to better my situation and be able to support my new family.
I started my insurance career as a producer for a small retail Allstate agency in Denver, Colorado selling home, auto, and renters insurance. Given a few weeks of training, a spread sheet, and a phone I was introduced to the great art known as cold calling. Cold Calling was tough. Rejection after rejection, only receiving a commission after 10 new pieces of business were placed that month, I learned from the ground up how to hustle for accounts. Although my time cold calling did not last long, the lessons I learned from those calls would prove to be priceless.
After my brief stint at Allstate, an opportunity opened up across the country back in Wisconsin for me to work for American Risk Management Resources LLC (ARMR), an award winning environmental wholesale brokerage who specializes in developing E&S environmental insurance placements for their clients. I had no idea what half those words even meant at the time, but my cousin was leaving the firm to join my uncle on the retail side of the insurance sales business. I could not pass up the opportunity to get in on the ground floor, build my knowledge, and grow a book of business in a niche market with a specialized product.
It has been almost four years since I moved my family from Denver CO to Middleton WI and joined the environmental insurance brokerage ranks. It turned out to be a pretty good decision. This past year I was honored nationally as a Top 10 Producer and Insurance Industry Young Gun 2015 by Insurance Business America Magazine. This is in a line of business not many insurance business professionals even know about much less are winning national production awards for. Working for the leading environmental insurance expert, David Dybdahl, and his firm ARMR, has sent my insurance career skyrocketing. I am five courses into my CPCU designation and can say I am one of the top environmental insurance brokers in the country at the ripe age of 27. I really enjoy what I do now and am proud to call ARMR my home.
I am an environmental wholesale insurance broker but more than that I am an educator. I have the opportunity each day to help agents and their clients understand coverage gaps created by sometimes obscure and complex pollution exclusions within their general liability and property insurance policies. As soon as a client hears “pollution insurance” they think “well I don’t own a hazardous waste facility or a nuclear bomb plant, I have zero to no exposure”. Believe it or not most environmental insurance policies sold today have nothing to do with hazardous waste or nuclear bomb plants at all. Policyholders have relied on the coverage provided in the general liability and property insurance policies to cover most of their business losses for years. Due to these confusing pollution exclusions, the client may not even have coverage for what they do for a living. It is my job to help them understand those gaps in coverage well enough to offer a solution to fix those gaps in coverage through the purchase of environmental liability insurance. Fun stuff, I know!
I cannot say I for sure fell into the insurance industry. Up to this point it has been more like a game of chutes and ladders. My insurance journey is just beginning but I can say I found a way to “do insurance” on my own and am looking forward to what this industry can offer in the future. The possibilities really are endless.