Making a change: becoming a broker in 2017

by David Keelaghan28 Jul 2017
Starting your own business is always a risk, but for Nerissa McNaughton that risk was magnified. Not only was she going it alone, she was also switching careers in the process. As a freelance writer in Edmonton, she specialized in insurance, and her experience in that field led her to open her own brokerage: Reassured For Life.

That was earlier this year and her reasoning was clear – she had developed a passion for the industry and thought she could offer consumers a better service for their insurance needs. Having worked in communications, she quickly realized that getting the right message across was paramount to the success of the business. As she explains, it’s something all brokers need to prioritize.

“I think there is a lot of fear and misinformation – most people think that because of age or if they are already sick with a condition, there is no hope for them,” she says. “Because life insurance is something that makes people uncomfortable, people aren’t casually reading up on it.”

That information gap is where the broker steps in, educating the public on the merits of life and health insurance. After that comes the products themselves, of which there are many. Being able to offer clients greater choice was a key factor in starting her own practice, reveals McNaughton, and there are plenty of other benefits to running your own shop too.

“Being a freelancer, I really value being able to run my company the way I want to,” she says. “I didn’t want to have sales quotas, or be in a position where I felt under pressure to force people to get a policy. I want to take the time to educate people. It is very important for me to run the business the way I feel it should be run.”

Now that she is licenced as a broker by the Alberta Insurance Council and Reassured For Life is up and running, McNaughton has ambitious plans for growing the business across Canada. Technology now means a successful broker can sell policies without ever meeting the customer in person.

For now though, the focus is on her home province of Alberta. The region has had a difficult few years since the oil shock of 2015, which makes starting a new business that bit more challenging. Nevertheless, she is confident clients will realize the merit of these products.

“Regardless of what is going on with the economy, people still need coverage,” she says. “They need information about insurance but without the pressure. I realize that a lot of families are struggling, so I might suggest term insurance for people that might find it far more affordable. Over the next 20 years you can then convert to a permanent policy.”

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