Ask An Agent: Sean Goral

How did you first get into the insurance industry?

Insurance actually found me. I went into college undeclared and majored in sociology but didn’t know what I wanted to do and talked to Liberty Mutual when they came to my college for a job fair. I ended up applying after college and they offered me a job as a CSR.

What did you enjoy about the captive experience?

I had a lot of good memories from Liberty Mutual. I saw how successful their producers were and wanted to make that jump myself. I started producing in 2014 and was great at my job - I won rookie of the year my first year and by my fifth year, I was in the top 2% at Liberty Mutual. The training, support, and processes all helped me succeed. There was healthy competition and I had an excellent manager.

When did you start thinking about going independent and why?

The company was raising rates as they were spending more on marketing - making customers that I knew well unhappy but there was nothing I could do. I felt like I was a disservice to my customers because I could only offer one product. I knew there were better options for them elsewhere. On top of this, I was losing out on the residuals from policies with customers I had worked hard to nurture so I felt that I could better service my customers by going independent.

What were some unexpected challenges as you transitioned from insurance agent to business owner?

Legacy Insurance Group was the first business I started so my first 3 months was just focused on how to get a business up and running. How do I incorporate a business, how do I get an employerID number, how do I track expenses? I was figuring things out as I went but spending a lot of money up front before I made any money. I had my carrier relationship already figured out but I remember spending a year demoing different AMS products but not knowing why I needed it. There were just a lot of processes and tools I didn’t know I needed.

What’s one piece of advice you would give yourself when just getting started?

Hire staff much sooner. I didn’t make my first hire until my 2nd year and it can take up to a full year to fully train someone. Also, if you can, find someone to partner with when getting started so you can have someone to bounce ideas off of - otherwise you don't know what you don’t know. I remember leaving my first IAOA conference mind blown - so many automated workflow tools I didn’t know even existed.

Closing thoughts?

Make the time to invest in yourself. Insurance is an industry that is rarely disrupted but in today’s world with 9/11, COVID, etc, it’s breathed new innovation into our industry of how we plan for the changing nature of risk. On top of this, big companies will continue to try to cut out agents as they commoditize their products but you have to stay educated on lines of business where agents will always be needed.