The Darwin Awards of the Insurance Industry

Kevin Trokey on March 25, 2019

I’m sure you’re familiar with the theories of Charles Darwin, but have you ever heard of the Darwin Awards? If not, you have to check them out. In a word, UNBELIEVABLE.

A Google search for the awards returns a link to the website along with the briefest explanation of what they are about: “Chlorinating the gene pool.” With that temptation, how in the world could you resist clicking through?! Once clicked, the spirit of the awards becomes even more apparent, “We commemorate those who improve our gene pool--by removing themselves from it in the most spectacular way possible.”

The sometimes fatal endings aside, the stories are the type that make you shake your head in disbelief and feel better, oh-so-much-better, about your own life decisions. One story tells of a young man who, while relieving himself in the woods, decided it might be a good idea to take a selfie with an injured bear he encountered. Spoiler alert – this was not a good idea, AT ALL. Or another young man who, at the end of a booze cruise, decided to do handstands on the rail of the boat. Makes me think of my brother who has always said he hopes his last words are, “Hey, watch this!”

Clearly, these awards are a nod to Charles Darwin, who famously observed that the natural selection of the species would be the result of the survival of the fittest. But remember, the fittest among us aren’t necessarily the biggest or the strongest, they’re those who are most adaptable to change.

But KT, what does this have to do with us?

Um, EVERYTHING! Given the unprecedented rate of change we have been experiencing in our industry, there are lessons to be learned for sure. Unfortunately for the “rail-riders” of the insurance industry, not all of us are meant to survive. But, for those who have created an environment in your insurance agency that embraces change, you should be celebrating the chlorination of the industry pool taking place.

May I introduce  the Darwin Awards – Insurance Agency Edition?

AWARD – I thought you loved me

The remains of T.R. Aditional, a 20-year industry veteran, were found last month in his office. He was curled up in the fetal position clutching “love letters” (actually Broker of Record letters). T.R. will forever be remembered for his catch phrase, “It’s a RELATIONSHIP business, you fool!” The autopsy revealed the cause of death to be a broken heart. Upon closer inspection, the BORs weren’t the love letters they first appeared to be. Instead, they were breakup letters from now ex-clients who decided they needed so much more than he could offer. In the end, it WAS him.

AWARD – Look at me

Agency partners Rocky Starr, Benny Ninja, and Chris Ruptor, have mysteriously vanished. They briefly achieved cult-like social media fame for taking an over-the-top approach to attacking other players in the market. Despite rumors that they still received 95% of their revenue from these sources, they were relentless and angry in their attacks. The last known sighting of the partners came from a passerby at their office who saw them answering the door to a group of not-so-happy visitors wearing BUCAH* jackets.

AWARD – The sky is falling

Ima N. Denial, an agency owner, was found crushed under the remains of her collapsed business. Despite the advice of many to abandon her old agency structure and build something more secure, she refused to leave. At each urging, she would lash back, "This structure has always served us well, there is no need to change anything!" Sadly, she wasn’t the only victim of her neglect. Countless team members were also lost in the incident.

AWARD – I’m so hungry

Joe “Feed Me” Seymour met an untimely, yet also completely avoidable, demise. “Feed Me” took great pride in only working on referrals. However, those closest to him know that this really meant he simply waited for opportunities to show up. His emaciated book of business seems to be clear evidence that his demise was the result of malnutrition and ultimately starvation due to the depletion of his pantry of referrals. Ironically, the topic of conversation among his best clients at his visitation was, “This was so avoidable. I was just waiting for him to ask for my help in introducing him to some great opportunities.”

Meanwhile, at the other end of the industry pool

Yes, there are two ends of the industry pool, and with vastly different outcomes. Ironically, it’s the same sources of change that are driving the two drastically different outcomes.

In one end, there is an unprecedented number of casualties; long-time industry players succumbing to a head-shaking and untimely demise. But, in the other end of the same industry pool, are those who find themselves swimming in a blue sea of opportunity. If you watch that end close enough, you can actually see the evolution of a seemingly whole new impactful species of advisor unfolding in front of your very eyes.

This next evolution of advisor is consistently proving to have the ability to:

  • Be seen by clients as the most valuable advisor on their team. Those clients are appreciating not only the financial impact their advisor is making, but also the strategic, operational, and emotional impact on their business.
  • Help clients achieve significant cost savings to their benefit program, while increasing the level of benefits at the same time.
  • Grow their agencies at unprecedented rates at both the top line and bottom line. The satisfaction they are getting from making more money than ever, while also having a more rewarding value proposition than ever before, is altering their very DNA, ensuring they will survive for a long time to come.

While one end our industry gene pool is being chlorinated, the other is proving to be a fertile sea birthing a new generation of impactful advisors.

Darwin would be proud. 

 

Official Disclaimer – This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events, and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental – as much as you may think they’re about you.

*BUCAH: Blues, United, Cigna, Anthem, Humana

Photo by: Hanna Kuprevich

Insurance Agency Leadership | Q4i Growth Platform

Topics: Leadership + Management, Agency Development