The music industry might seem like it has little to do with insurance, but one broker has found the opposite to be true. While she was in her mid-20s and in the midst of a career in life insurance, Jen Perry (pictured) took a break to tour across Canada with her band and then got into talent management, eventually running her own company. Though Perry later got back into insurance, first with Desjardins and then moving to First Foundation in Edmonton, she found that her skills from the music biz translated well to a broking role.
“I don’t think a lot of people fully get how that actually played into my career as an insurance broker, [but] when you’re managing talent, you’re essentially running a small business,” said Perry, today the Edmonton branch manager for the insurance division at First Foundation. “You’re teaching them how to set up their career as a business, and managing their schedules, their tours, their marketing and their business planning long-term. It essentially comes down to Business 101, and running a brokerage is very similar to how you would want to set up a person’s career in the music industry.”
The experience in the music industry has also helped Perry think outside the box. When she’s talking with clients, she’s able to put into perspective the different options that might be available to them rather than just telling clients that there’s only one way to insure an asset.
Perry’s interest in insurance likewise comes from wanting to help people. When Perry was younger and her car was vandalized, she was surprised to find that she didn’t have comprehensive coverage in place to cover this loss.
“I was shocked – how could that have happened to me? How could you guys not have given me that coverage or how did I not even understand what my coverages were?” she explained. “I always go back to that feeling of not understanding my policy, and I always relate that to clients and make sure that they understand that my role is very education-focused.”
At the end of the day, a broker’s role is to help clients by advocating on their behalf to the insurance companies, and if a client comes in and doesn’t understand what coverage they have or they’ve had a claim and they don’t know if they’re going to be covered, brokers haven’t done their job, says Perry.
Keeping clients up to date on their coverage becomes that much more important considering the hard market in Alberta.
“Alberta is definitely an interesting place to work. We’re in a hard market and that has presented challenges. Before, we could quote and write a policy no problem and now the underwriting restrictions are much stronger, and it becomes more difficult to find a provider for clients who potentially don’t have the cleanest driving history,” said Perry. “We’re encouraging our brokers to think outside the box a little bit more, [in terms of] some of the other solutions for our clients that we can provide, and making sure that they’re still being covered adequately for a reasonable rate.”
When clients are upset about their insurance, the reason is often because they don’t understand their coverage, added Perry. “It’s not necessarily our fault as a broker that rates are increasing, but it is our job to let them know what’s going on and keep them informed, and then it becomes easier for them when their renewals come through with an increase.”
Perry’s goal for the First Foundation branch moving forward is to keep educating customers and retain clients in this hard market.
“We were lucky – we still grew by 10% last year in a very hard market situation,” she said. “That tends to be unusual so our goal is to continue to educate people and be there for them, and to grow our brokerage at the same time.”