Young Agents Spotlight: AIIA Celebrates Taylor Norton, President of South Shore Insurance Agency in Foley, Alabama
By: Hayden Wood, Intern
How did you being your insurance career?
Taylor graduated from AuburnUniversity with a degree in Wildlife and Forestry. He started his post graduation life with a bang by back packing across Europe for six weeks. He then wanted to spend the rest of his summer fishing but, realizing he was penniless, he decided to look for a job instead.
Luckily, a family member who owned an insurance company asked him to help with some technology issues. After helping with a few Excel spreadsheets and attaching a document to an email, he was hired, and from that day forth he has been in the insurance business. During his time there he was fortunate enough to learn both the retail and wholesale sides of insurance. He stayed with Southern Alabama Insurance until he decided to form his own insurance agency.
Tell us about your current position and job responsibilities.
Taylor’s responsibilities at South Shore Insurance include a wide range. He says his role is the same as any small business owners: he underwrites insurance, implements goals and procedures, visualizes potential directions and opportunities and even takes out the trash. He says, “Luckily, my team is so industrious and capable that I have an easy job.” When asked about how he handles certain situations within the industry, Taylor responded, “Our “marketplace challenges” mainly hinge on whether or not a company has wind capacity, or will continue to provide wind coverage at reasonable rates. Being involved in the local association and AIIA helps our agency stay current on which carriers are “in” and which are “out”. As an agency, we always strive to do the best job we can for carriers so they, in turn, will be able to support us in the long-term. Independent agencies struggle for brand recognition against the big captives so many people don’t realize there are alternatives to the wind pool. It bothers me to know that the majority of AIVA policies are actual cash value when we have alternative markets offering more competitively priced options with replacement cost coverage.”
When asked what he learned from the insurance companies he has done business with, Taylor said, “Over the years we have learned each company has their own niche in the market, and we feel as agents it is important to understand what type of risk each company is looking to capture. Coming from an underwriting background, I understand the mindset of carriers and encourage our agency’s team to stay informed on the specifics of each company’s underwriting philosophy. I feel this outlook enables us to better serve our companies, which therefore helps us better serve our clients.”
Share with us your involvement with AIIA.
Taylor’s involvement in AIIA and Young Agents includes participation in the Young Agents Clay Shoot, serving as local board member secretary, as vice president and currently as president of the Alabama Gulf Coast Association of Independent Insurance Agents (AGCAIIA). He also attended the national convention in Washington and he recommends this to all members.
What do you see in the future for Young Agents in our changing business environment?
Taylor said he sees endless possibilities for the future of Young Agents who are willing to learn the skill and work hard. He says regardless of changes in the industry, insurance agents should be ok as long as they stick to the fundamentals. Although technology has changed the business, it has also given the young agents an advantage by leveling the playing field. Seasoned agents who have acquired more knowledge may not have much technological experience, whereas young agents are more experienced with technology, but may still be learning the insurance industry. It creates opportunities for the agents to work together and learn from each other.
What tips do you have for new agents beginning their career?
“Go to ABA’s convention in Washington.” He adds, “DC is a great town and you can’t help but embrace the patriotism. It was the first time I was able to truly interact with our state executives and really enjoyed the fellowship we all shared as representatives of Alabama. It was incredibly inspirational to see agents from all over the country join together to accomplish some common goals with our legislatures.” He also said to get involved all around, be accountable, treat people like human beings not dollar signs, find a mentor in the industry and make a point to learn from them, and lastly and most importantly, when some one says or promises something always get it in writing. No matter how well you think you know the person.
This article was shared from page 17, Volume 34, of The Alabama Independent and was written by Hayden Wood. The Alabama Independent is the official magazine of the Alabama Independent Insurance Agents.