Whether you are at the beginning of your insurance career, in the middle of it, or a lifer, curiosity drives and helps us move to the next level while continually loving what we do.

Patience Noah, owner of Patience Noah Insurance; Miles Merwin, president and founder of Advisors Insurance Agency; and Chris Beardslee, executive vice president at Allied Insurance Managers, discuss how keeping their curiosity alive has helped throughout the different stages of their careers.

A Passion for Learning

Patience Noah's curiosity actually led her to insurance. A marketing graduate of the University of Massachusetts — Dartmouth, Noah was looking for a secure job when her mentor suggested insurance. She began learning about the industry by doing research online and at the library. Her first insurance job was in sales, and after working for several carriers, she founded her agency in 2019.

Her continued pursuit of insurance knowledge saw her contacting industry experts who could share their expertise. To this day, Noah continues to reach out to individuals who can provide answers.

"Because our industry is constantly changing and there's always something to learn, I usually try to find somebody with some knowledge in the area I am curious about. Yes, I can read an article, but at the end of the day, I'd rather talk to somebody. I will reach out to an underwriter, someone I've met at a conference, or someone on LinkedIn. I will also call a random person I've found online and ask if I can pick his or her brains," she says.

"I prefer learning from individuals and hearing about their experiences, because people have different ways of putting things that will help you understand."

Noah explains that talking with people with hands-on daily experience is the best education you can get about the industry.

"People are willing to teach you and will make the time available to educate you on anything you need."

And, as a relatively new agency owner, Noah feels there is much more to learn in the industry.

"I've yet to scratch the surface of what it means to be an agency owner. The more I get in front of the right people and ask the right questions, the more I learn about what's out there. My passion for education is what holds me to the industry."

Taking the Agency to the Next Level

Miles Merwin founded Advisors Insurance Agency 12 years ago. Today, he has 18 team members and more than 5,000 clients. To help take the agency to the next level, he has hired three consultants to help his staff learn to be professional agents and communicators and operate the business with the latest technology.

Merwin continues to move the needle in his agency and find the right life/work balance.

"You look at some of the companies around you, and if you're someone who likes to try to improve all the time and get better, you start to ask, 'What would it take to get the business to the next level, to provide next-level service? Is there a purpose, a passion, a plan, a picture of what you want?' To help answer these questions, you reach out to people who can help you find the answers."

Additionally, he explains that to get people on board and moving away from the neutral zone where the agency may be idling, you need to repeat your purpose and plan and explain their part in the process, answer their questions and show them the big picture.

After achieving financial success, Merwin now spends a lot of time with other leaders in the business and enjoys helping and watching them grow.

"My time is spent as a sales manager and visionary. My passion and purpose is to grow our company, which serves 26 families, including mine. I look at whether we're doing our best to achieve this. If we can provide for our people, we will, in turn, provide for our customers, community and families."

Finding Niche Specialties

Chris Beardslee, executive vice president at Allied Insurance Managers, has been expertly providing insurance for niche markets for years. He began focusing on specific industries at age 27 when he decided he wanted to specialize in breweries, distilleries, wineries and janitorial contractors, and created insurance programs for them.

"When investigating these niches and finding the programs that fit each niche, we immediately tried to get appointed. I've been working with each niche for 15 years, and it's been amazing."

How was Beardslee able to find the right fit for each program? He explained that several carriers can write a specific niche, but very few specialize in it.

"For example, when it came to breweries, we had to find the carriers with the insurance forms to cover exposures like tank leakage and collapse. You also need loss control experts with an understanding of the industry and who can provide good guidance upon inspection of a brewery." He asked the right questions and sought out the carriers that were the right fit.

In explaining how he got his foot in the door with prospects in the brewery industry, Beardslee credits developing a rapport with each prospect who can provide you with knowledge.

"Once you get into the industry, everyone begins to look at you as their guy who will take care of you.' " From there, we developed educational content on our website and did a great deal of organic promotion to drive traffic so they could learn what they need to know about protecting their brewery."This approach led to many web leads and opportunities for relationship building.

Today, the agency has 25 to 30 carriers that can handle different types of industries and businesses.

"When we focus on an industry, we add a carrier to support our specialty niche. We have different programs for each of our 12 salespeople, and each salesperson can use the others' niche programs.

"For example, we have a niche program for fire suppression contractors. Not many people think, 'Oh, that's an industry I want to specialize in.' But three of our salespeople got enough leads within the industry and now know it inside out. They talk to people all over the country and are considered an expert in the niche."

Looking at Noah, Merwin and Beardslee, it's clear that a little curiosity goes a long way in the insurance world.