As I think back on the last 20 years of my insurance carrier what comes to mind are relationships. Sure I have trekked all over Pennsylvania and other states providing coverage to clients, tackling claim issues and providing all the risk management advice and assistance I can, but I can’t do any of that without my colleagues.
In all honestly, maybe I should rephrase that and call them friends…as that is what they truly are.
I still remember my first account ever written and who the underwriter was. While he has been at a few other carriers since and I too have moved on, we still work together to this day. He knows who he is because this comes up from time to time. He helped me take an early step to becoming the person I am today and two decades later we still get to help each other out. How many other industries allow those types of relationships to remain while both of us have changed companies?
In addition to that relationship I am amused by thinking of all of the times I have spent with my colleagues and friends. Everything from dinners and meetings, to trips and I-Day. I don’t have to think far either, I can just go back to last week and the time I spent with close friends who support my agency along with those who are competitors. Again, how many industries have competitors that they can call friends?
I encourage all of our members to think about the relationships they have built…whether it’s been 4 0 years or 2 months. We all have common goals of supporting our families and protecting our clients and on a daily basis we help each other to achieve those goals. Over the years, all of our success comes from these relationships. Even more intriguing are the calls I share on a weekly basis with friendly competitors. We respect each other enough to call and ask how they would handle a situation, their interpretation of coverage or assistance with carriers, vendors and clients. I love these calls and have a list of those I can call at any time when I am in need of peer support and advice. I’m not sure I can envision a call between McDonalds and Burger King, or Coke and Pepsi where they discuss problems they are having and look for advice.
As a member of the Insurance Club of Pittsburgh I have the opportunity to make and keep more connections. As a volunteer board member I have the opportunity to network with those I might not have had the chance. I have underwriters now that I have known for years…though we never formally worked together until recently. How cool is that…we already have trust and respect before even working on a an account!
As we all move through our careers I hope everyone thinks back on the journey and those that have been by their side along the way. I know I do. I’m lucky enough to get to work with an ICP volunteer that I have known since I was 10 years old before getting into the industry! In addition I am able to spend time with people I have had the pleasure to serve on the board with, friends that I vacation with and those that I great with a smile at I-Day. All of them have made an impact on my life and my career.
To quote Heraclitus “Change is the only constant in life”.
We are all going to go through change during our careers and our lives. That may be a change in employment, a change in where we live or retirement. Over time we have lost great friends and unfortunately will continue to do so. As long as we can look back on the personal relationships this business has allowed us to form we should be able to do so with a smile. Let’s continue to build and enjoy them for years to come.
While I wrote this article in advance for the March newsletter the last paragraph was coming from my heart at the time which was two days ago. At that time a good friend to me and to the club was battling cancer. Tim Jones had been fighting for some time and he always did so with a smile and a positive attitude. I learned a lot from him over this period, and none of it was insurance related. I learned how we have the opportunity to remain strong for all those around us in tough times and how important that can be. I was reminded once again that most problems are small and should not interfere with our friendships and lives. Yesterday I received the news that he had passed. Last night it weighed heavy on my heart and mind. Today I’m smiling because I’m reliving all of the great times we shared. The personal conversations, the laughter and the relationship. I’m grateful for all the time we shared. People like Tim are the reason I wrote this article in the first place and he will be greatly missed but will always remain in my best memories.
Written By: Todd Whiteman
Enscoe Long Insurance Group
Treasurer through 2019