“There is nothing more exciting than being an insurance agent.”
When Danielle Byrne thinks of the various careers of the people she knows, she feels incredibly lucky. Where some of her friends have to use great tact and care in dealing with people in their lines of work, Byrne, an independent life insurance agent in Chesapeake, Virginia, says “Man, I love my job. There’s nothing better than being able to tell people the way it is.”
Her excitement is evident in how she approaches what she does. “If someone is faced with a pile of insurance policies and tells me to go through them and save them money, I might as well be eating an ice cream sundae,” she says with a laugh.
There’s been plenty of that kind of enjoyment in Byrne’s job in the two short years she’s been a full-time agent. She’s self-employed and thriving, having contracted with 30 different companies to offer life insurance and related products to her customers. She enjoys most working with Royal Neighbors, a fraternal benefit organization started by nine women in the 1920s, and one with which she writes most of her business.
Byrne has opted to seek contracts with so many companies to ensure that she can offer the widest range of product options possible. “I never want to be in the position where I can’t help somebody.”
That’s a good quality to bring to insurance, and it’s one that’s earned her several accolades. Currently, Byrne is Royal Neighbors’ Top Female Agent and is considered one of the top three agents working with Royal Neighbors. Despite being relatively new to the industry, Byrne also has a Top Life Agent award from the same company, this one for Q1 2015.
Ironically, a career in insurance wasn’t Byrne’s first option, or even one she’d considered. But with a freshly earned MBA from Saint Leo University in Florida, she went online looking for opportunities, only to find the job market wasn’t ideal. One day she and her husband, who is on active duty in the military, saw a job advertisement for Combined Insurance. “All my husband said was, ‘Insurance is a big field. I know a few people in it who have made a good living.’ That’s all he had to say. I thought, I’ll give it a shot.”
She applied, got the job, and got the training. The experience laid the foundation for her sales training and success. Combined Insurance put her to work immediately after her March 2012 licensure. She was with Combined for just four months before she was promoted to territory manager, including heading out-of-town sales training events.
The career, however, was quickly interrupted when she found out she was expecting. Having gone through a rough pregnancy with her son, Byrne put her career on hold until her daughter was born. She left insurance in September 2012 and returned a year later.
Starting fresh in the field, she decided to diversify. Feeling that serving a single insurance company was too limiting, Byrne went out on her own and secured contracts with those 30 companies, including her association with Royal Neighbors.
It’s a formula that’s working. Within just seven months of contracting with Royal Neighbors, Byrne earned enough in premium — $65,000 — to win the annual trip the company offers. It’s a benchmark most agents need a year to qualify for. Byrne has already won the trip offered this year.
The sales are all within her community. While she’s working toward creating her branding and online presence, Byrne prefers working locally. That hasn’t been without challenges, but she says the real challenge for her is overcoming distorted facts, preconceived notions, and apathy among her client prospects.