Linda Colgan’s throaty laugh when you ask her how she got into the industry says it all – and certainly it’s a set up that seems to belong more in a Broadway musical than real life. The future Senior Account Executive of Toronto-area Bryson & Associates Insurance Brokers started in the mailroom of an insurance brokerage.
From there, she has her curious nature and some “interesting and intriguing” correspondence to thank for starting her on what has become a very successful career path.
“I was just out of high school – I wanted a job that I didn’t work weekends or nights when I started working in the mailroom of a large insurance brokerage. I didn’t understand a lot of the insurance verbiage,” she says. “So I was quite interested in some of the engineering reports, I was quite enquiring of some of the coverages and the claims; as I studied to investigate a little bit, I found that it was an open arena. The world’s your oyster. You could go into anything: personal lines, property, casualty, loss prevention – so it wasn’t a segregated learning experience, no matter what level. There’s always more to learn and more to do.”
She adds “after starting my career in the insurance industry I have yet to stop working nights and weekends and I love each and every day.”
This love of education continues to this day, with the winner of a top 20 position in the 2015 Elite Broker issue of Insurance Business Canada
saying she is “Constantly, constantly,” looking to satisfy her thirst for knowledge. “I’m always pursuing courses and going to different seminars.”
She also sets great store by a continuing process of learning, one that covers “your clients and their needs; your clients industry; plus the insurance industry and what’s changing in both worlds.”
It’s a stance that represents a particular challenge to Colgan, who covers commercial and fleet insurance.
“As an insurance adviser we have to know the products; know our clients’ operations; be educated about what they do and then tailor a package or a policy that will adequately cover their exposures; present options to them for them to consider.
“You have to know about their business; you have to know about their industry – construction is very different than manufacturing; which is very different than transportation, and all those risks differ dramatically from a mere office exposure. Insurance brokers have to know the insurance products being offered in the industry, then to adequately present the options to your client. Outlining the various coverage comparisons between one insurer and the next is another challenge. It should not always be about price, it should be about purchasing coverages (and deductible structures) that adequately cover the risks for sufficient pricing. You are purchasing paper until a loss happens. It’s about claims response and reliability of the insurance product purchased. In addition to this, as insurance brokers the key of success lies within knowledge and the strength of relationships on both sides of the fence. ”