For many insurance professionals, clients are at the forefront of their priorities – and it’s vital to ensure they fully understand the risks in the market. Kelley Milks (pictured) is one of them.
With over 35 years of experience, Milks has become one of AHERN Insurance Brokerage’s greatest assets, thanks to her dedication. She now serves as the firm’s vice president.
Milks has an extensive knowledge of all exposures, including professional liability, employment practices, workers’ compensation, fiduciary, commercial property and casualty. Additionally, outside her insurance career, she commits her time to supporting the Association of Legal Administrators (ALA) by educating legal administrators through seminars and other local events.
In this exclusive interview with Insurance Business, Milks shares more about her involvement with the ALA and also talks about her hopes for the insurance industry.
Tell us how you got into the insurance industry, what led you to this career?
Like so many others, I didn’t choose insurance, it chose me. I was hired into an agency in the typing pool and when the owner asked me in my second week how I liked it there, I responded with, “This is the most boring job.” After a bit of discussion, they moved me into personal lines to learn the ropes!
What is the most fulfilling aspect of your work in the insurance space?
Teaching clients and prospective clients how to properly identify their risks and insure them appropriately. I will pass on working with prospective clients who just want me to give them a “bid” and don’t want to put any thought into whether their insurance program is appropriate. I have helped many clients identify millions of dollars in risk that they did not know they were retaining.
What makes your firm different from other companies in the same space?
In one word, specialization. Our team understands the marketplace for our clients. Our backgrounds allow us to collaborate, which results in great results for our clients.
What are your hopes for the insurance industry moving forward?
Stabilization in pricing and selling products and services versus price.
Our industry has been subject to up and down cycles for as long as I can remember. I have been fortunate in having long term clients, some for over 25 years. When we experienced the last hard market, I was able to go back and show some of my clients that if there had been an increase of 5% every year over the course of the soft market, their premium would have been very close to the premium offered in the hard market rebound.
It is difficult for the policyholder to view the insurance agent/broker as a professional if they are only selling the price of the product they are offering.
Why is it important for you to support the Association of Legal Administrators?
The majority of legal administrators have to wear many hats in their law firms. They are responsible for making sure that the assets of the firm are properly insured and they typically have very little knowledge of insurance. Many times, their ability to choose an agent or broker is driven by relationships of the firm (i.e. old school friend or partner, son or daughter-in-law or client of firm).
It has been my pleasure over the last 25 years to educate legal administrators so that they can feel confident that they have identified their risks and insured them with solid products. I have found that although an ALA member may not have been able to work with me at the time, when an opportunity arises they will reach out to me. The vast majority of my business over the last decade has been through referrals and relationships.
If you were not working in the insurance space, what would you be doing now?
If I left the insurance space I would pursue work in risk management which is a growing field. I find this area to be very interesting since it is always evolving and requires out of the box thinking.
What are your passions or hobbies outside insurance?
I am currently enjoying the experience of being a first-time grandparent. I enjoy reading, gardening and RVing on any beach when time does allow.