Travis Middleton started his career as a captive agent selling mortgage cancellation insurance. After three years, he decided to break out on his own and open an independent practice offering group health and other products – and the decision paid off. Now, many years later, he’s a successful producer and secretary for the Texas State Board of the Texas Association of Health Underwriters. His lobbying efforts have allowed him to meet with Texas incumbents and candidates on health care issues, and he continues to advocate on behalf of his clients and the insurance industry. To find out the keys to his success, read on.

How did you get started in insurance?

My father was a division manager for Prudential for more than 30 years. I applied with Prudential three times before my Dad signed off on allowing me to become contracted.

You were very successful in your first year. How did you do it?

I worked Monday night through Thursday night and Saturday morning selling mortgage cancellation insurance to new homeowners. During the day I prospected with business owners.

How did you transition from working for someone else to owning your own agency?

After having worked for Prudential for approximately three years, I decided that I didn’t like watching my production numbers go away and begin anew each January. I was also transitioning into group health insurance with my introduction to business owners and decision makers.

What are some challenges that owning your own agency brings?

Being on my own, I had very few peers that I could commiserate with when things were not going well, or to crow about when they did go well. Luckily with my father being in the insurance business I did have someone I could lean on when I needed support and who also understood success. As my agency grew it was always a struggle to fill all the roles: prospecting, selling, completing, processing, and finalizing applications. Plus there were the challenges of claims, declines, and prospecting. Oh, did I mention prospecting?

Currently, my main challenge has to do with what level of production does one need support staff? Then, to follow up with all of the accounting and tax preparation that goes with staffing.

With new media and Internet contact we struggle to keep pace with the changes going on in the marketplace to stay viable and visible to our clients and prospects.

What do you think the biggest issue facing health insurance agents is today?

The last sentence above I believe is the beginning of the issue. Positioning yourself and your agency is a priority to marketing and prospecting. Using social media correctly is always an advantage. The ongoing changes in rules and regulations surrounding the recent insurance tax legislation certainly are a struggle. Working on ways to stay abreast of marketing trends and viable products that bring value to a client’s financial situation is also an ongoing struggle.

How can they overcome it?

Belonging to an association, such as the National Association of Health Underwriters, that can keep you informed and educated of the issues and possible solutions is paramount. Identifying an association that will assist you in the fields that you are interested is vital.

Are you worried about how health reform will change your business?

I am not worried that the recent purported health care reform will affect my business, but I am extremely concerned that the current political climate will destroy the most successful health delivery, innovative, and scientific discovery system in the world.

Our agency is positioned to assist our clients and prospects in whichever direction the current legislation leads the nation. We have set ourselves up to be able to advise on health care, but we have also repositioned ourselves to take advantage of any and all opportunities afforded us by the new legislation.