Insurance as a Career Path in Agriculture

The alphabet soup behind her name on LinkedIn may be confusing, but Tracy Cotton is the kind of personable and fun loving individual that helps make the complicated and daunting world of insurance not so bad. A passion for helping people, agritourism, and being herself in the fast-paced world of insurance, she’s more than happy to share a little insight on what it takes to work into the ever-growing world of todays insurance industry. 

Tracy Cotton, CIC CISR, or Certified Insurance Counselor and Certified Insurance Service Representative, spends her time bettering agriculture for all, writing insurance policies for agriculture related businesses, and speaking at conferences. Keeping up with her continued education, she is always working to stay at the front of the curve of the exciting world of being an insurance agent. 

“I’ve been doing it for a long time! About 23 years in the insurance industry,” says Tracy who started in the company side before moving to an independent agency. “One of the things I figured out was that it was a great way to really take care of other people. I love serving people and working with people.”

Why you should be thinking about working in the insurance industry:

With over 200,000 new jobs expected in the insurance industry, there is a high demand for individuals that are interested in sales, marketing, business, customer service and/or helping people. As an agent industry, there continues to be innovation that creates new jobs every year. 

The times are changing and what people may have once knew as an insurance agent in a suit and tie in an office in town or down the street is no longer considered the “norm.” The number of opportunities is really exciting for somebody wanting to come into the industry. 

What do you need to be a part of someone else’s big business decisions? 

Being an insurance agent means that you are going to be a part of many big decisions for an individual or their business. Whether it be buying a house or starting their own business, agents work as trusted consultants to help them protect their investment. 

  1. A focus in a college career in finance, business, etc.

  2. College courses that offer risk management with an emphasis on insurance.
    There are about 400 programs across the United States that are available, put on through the support of the insurance industry to bring in new candidates. 

Didn’t attend college? No problem!

“I graduated with a college psychology degree, but I have friends that are the same age as I am, working in the same spot in life, and they either came straight into the insurance industry or straight from high school,” explains Tracy on why a college degree helps but is definitely not required. 

  1. Good customer service, sales or marketing skills. 

  2. Willing to do what is necessary.

Common fears of being an insurance agent:

Cold-Calling

Cold-calling is not dead, although many may hope that it is obsolete with the use of social media and technology. However, it is not the best way and definitely not the only way to create business in insurance. 

In farm and agribusiness, the best way to make relationships and connections is to meet people face-to-face. Spending more time getting out and into the community, whether it be visiting local farmers at farmer’s markets or at conferences as a speaker, attendee, or sponsor, are a great way to create connections. Helping farmers think of themselves as a business and work on their business is easier done in these settings. 

Developing Your Own Brand

People buy insurance from an agent that they have a relationship with and creating your own personal brand helps make that relationship. Always having been a relationship-style business, insurance has been able to grow with the modern times and technology meaning that it isn’t all suits and offices. Agents are allowed more free rein to share their passions, such as breweries or agritourism in Tracy’s case. 

“The fun thing for me on social media is that I realized I could still be me and that people liked it! I could talk hiking, outdoors and pictures of breweries! It was a win-win and something that allowed me to connect with people.” 

Advice for Young Professionals

Besides colleges offering more classes that are more related to risk management and related to insurance in the business ends, there are more internships available than ever before. Tracy’s own agency recently spent a day at Appalachian State University talking about internship opportunities. Tracy recalls that this wasn’t something that was available when she was coming out of college. 

The growth in the insurance agency in all facets from insurance agent to number crunching in the claims department, she encourages anyone whether they are recently graduated, straight out of high school looking for a career, or even if they are currently working down a different career path but are interested, to reach out and learn more about the insurance agency. Curious about getting started? Taking a personality test from InvestProgram.org to find where you could fit in the insurance industry!

Tracy encourages you to connect with her on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn to ask any questions that you may have about insurance. If she doesn’t know the answer than she will probably know someone that does and she would be more than happy to connect you with them!

Make sure to subscribe to the AgGrad YouTube Channel to learn more about career opportunities in agriculture and follow along on the special “30 Under 30 in Agriculture” series! Interested in nominating someone under 30? Nominate them here!

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Katie Schrock
katie.schrock@thatwesternlife.com
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