What Plays in Peoria Doesn’t Shine in Hollywood – Take 1

Jun 6, 2012

peoria-one“Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and fifty cents for your soul.” — Marilyn Monroe

Ah, Hollywood.

I recently saw a movie and couldn’t take it – the latest misrepresentation about the insurance industry and insurance agents on the silver screen was too much for me. So I penned a piece for the Insurance Views column of Insurance News and Views, published by the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America.

I wrote in the column: “Here’s my modest proposal: Share your good-agent stories with me. As an independent agent community, we can put together a great storyline for a Hollywood blockbuster.

My ideal, long term, is to get greater attention to the true and authentic value that independent agents deliver all around the United States. Yes, I understand that Hollywood scripts need villains and heroes. But enough is enough. I am sure many in the independent agent community already share this view or at least can understand those of us who feel this way.

In just a week or two after publishing the piece, I heard from several insurance professionals. Not surprisingly, most of these comments share the view that agents are getting a bad reputation from the distorted lens that Hollywood uses to portray the insurance industry.

Here are two comments I got back after writing the column:

Tara Goetzel, CIC, CPIW, CISR, the commercial lines manager of The Arizona Group in Gilbert, Arizona, wrote to say:

“I enjoyed your recent article about wishing Hollywood would make a positive movie about the insurance industry. How about a movie about how the insurance world is a wonderful career opportunity? Take, for instance, my life experience:

Picture a young lady in the early ‘90s from a Mormon family in Idaho that was pregnant at the untimely age of 16 and gave birth to her premature baby at 28 weeks. She was able to finish high school and keep her baby with the support of her family. After a failed teenage marriage, a small office job, and dropping out of college to make money as a single mother of 2, she started at the bottom of the barrel in a small independent agency at an entry-level position in the personal lines department. She didn’t know then how a simple decision to accept the job would open up a world of opportunity. With personal perseverance, faith, education classes, support of producers, employers, some terrific mentors and involvement in the National Association of Insurance Women (now International Association of Insurance Professionals), she now has an amazing career that she loves.

I can’t wait to see what the next 15 years in the insurance industry will bring!”

Richard Berube of R. J. Berube Insurance and Charles L. Crane Agency in Tequesta, Florida, wrote:

“Back in 2005 Florida had 5 hurricanes in 10 months. Before that one of our elderly customers came to the office with his homeowners renewal complaining about the additional cost at renewal. He decided to go without coverage until Elizabeth in our office got a hold of him, put him in a headlock and gave him a nuggie. She absolutely refused to let him go without coverage and they settled on reducing the building value until he finally bought. Of course his house was the only total loss from all those storms that year. He came to the office complaining that now he didn’t have enough money to replace his house.”

I’ll share more comments in future blog posts.

What’s your story about the good things you’ve done in your insurance career? Or even, (as in Tara’s story) what are the good things that the insurance industry has done for you? Please post a comment here or send me an email at Sharon.Emek@WAHVE.com.

— Sharon Emek, Ph.D.
Founder and CEO


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