Maine Young Agents Host Legends Panel

November 6, 2017

The Standard Insurance Weekly

a double lung transplant recipient, a
trained soprano/art teacher and a former
professional basketball player have
in common? They have all enjoyed
long, fulfilling careers in the insurance

Co-moderator Rebecca Fullerton of Acadia Insurance,
Bill Chalmers of Chalmers Insurance Group,
Carol Aigner-Bacon of Aigner Insurance Training,
Dana Eddy, who is retired from MMG Insurance,
and co-moderator Ashley Rosborough of J.T. Rosborough.

The Maine Young Agents Committee
hosted a “Legends Panel” at its sales
and leadership conference, which gave
people who are new to the business the
chance to ask seasoned professionals
about their careers.

Bill Chalmers, CIC, co-owner of
Chalmers Insurance Group and lung recipient,
always knew he would have a
career in the insurance industry because
he came from a family of agents, including
his grandfather, father and uncle.

Growing up, the dinner conversation
often revolved around insurance issues
and claims. He even remembers chasing
fire trucks to the scenes of local fires to
see if it was one of his dad’s insureds.

A family connection also brought Dana
Eddy, CIC, retired from MMG Insurance,
into the industry, but only after a
stint as a professional basketball player
in Philadelphia.

Carol Aigner-Bacon, AAI, of Aigner Insurance
Training, landed in the industry
the way many people do — by accident.
She had been working as an art
teacher when she moved to Maine, met
someone and married into the business.
While she spent some time as a licensed
agent, her real love was being an
insurance instructor.

All three panelists had mentors who
helped them along the way. For Aigner-
Bacon it was Mary Karatsanos, who
started the National Association of Insurance
Women chapter in Portland.

Eddy noted that many agents were “very
kind” to him when he was starting out,
including Bill Chalmer’s father, Herb.
Chalmers had built-in mentors in his
father and brother and now relishes his
role as a mentor to others. “It’s a great
way to give back.”

Those mentors and others helped them
get through some rookie mistakes.
Chalmers joked that he tested the binding
authority principle a time or two.
Eddy admitted to being a bit undisciplined
in his early days, rushing to get
his work done, so he could spend his
time on the ski slopes. Aigner-Bacon
noted that numerous carrier employees
helped her along the way, double checking
that she really meant what she had
filled out on forms.

When asked what changed the most
during the course of their careers, the
answer was simple: “everything.” Eddy
said in the days before computers,
email and cell phones, everything had
to be laboriously typed out and stored
in huge filing cabinets. The pace was
much slower but included more of a
personal touch.

Chalmers agreed, saying that in the
past more sales were based on relationships
than being mere transactions.
“Transactions are price driven whereas
relationship sales are about offering
counseling. The key question is to determine
if someone really needs your
counsel. They’re your bread and butter.”
Aigner-Bacon is concerned that underwriters
and producers don’t have the
same kind of conversations about risks
as they used to. “In personal lines and
small commercial, it is the rules that
apply and that’s that. Before, underwriting
was willing to trust you if you
said X. I think some of that has been
lost. It changed because of automation
and artificial intelligence … underwriters’
hands are tied much more than they
used to be.”

When asked what advice they would give
to new talent, Chalmers said, “If you’re
smart and you work hard, you’ll have
great opportunities in this profession.”
Eddy encouraged young professionals
to “network, stay visible and keep active.”
For Aigner-Bacon, the key is to
continually learn and to keep current
with designations and licenses. “Don’t
ever let your license go; you never know
when it will help you. You’ll take it with
you anywhere you want to go.”

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