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Janice Laws Robinson. (Photo: Robinson)

Life Health > Health Insurance

Agency-Building Skills Power a Candidate’s Statewide Campaign

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What You Need to Know

  • Janice Laws Robinson is competing with John King for the Georgia insurance commissioner post.
  • She got involved in shaping public policy through an agent group, NAIFA.
  • She decided to run for office because of her concern about skyrocketing auto insurance premiums.

A longtime insurance agent, Janice Laws Robinson, could be the next Georgia insurance commissioner.

Robinson won a runoff election for the Democratic nomination in June and will square off against the Republican incumbent, John King, in the general election Nov. 8. The state’s first absentee votes could come in as early as Oct. 7.

Robinson got her start in insurance as a sales representative at Liberty Mutual in 2003. She opened her own agency, J. Laws & Associates, in the Atlanta area, in 2014.

She has focused on selling personal property and casualty insurance, but she is also licensed to sell life insurance and annuities, and she began to play an active role in public policy in Georgia through her membership in the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors.

She ran for commissioner in 2018 and came to close to winning. The winner of that election, Jim Beck, went to prison after he was convicted of stealing $2.5 million from the Georgia Underwriting Association.

King, her current Republican opponent, is a major general in the U.S. National Guard who has worked in law enforcement for decades.

Robinson answered questions in an interview Wednesday about what it’s like to be an insurance industry veteran running for statewide office.

Here are five things she said, drawn from the interview.

1. Serving as insurance commissioner can be a way to make a real difference in her people’s lives.

“We’ve just had skyrocketing insurance rates,” Robinson said. “My clients were complaining about the rates. At the agency level, there really wasn’t much I could do.”

2. Professional experience with insurance will be an advantage.

Many states have appointed or elected insurance commissioners with little or no professional experience in the insurance or financial services sectors.

Robinson said she believes having professional experience would be helpful to any top insurance regulator.

“Insurance is very complex,” she said. “It’s too complex for someone just coming in off the street to take it on.”

3. Any agents or advisors hoping to follow her example and run for office should think about the bills.

“It takes a lot of money to run for statewide office,” Robinson said. “That is the biggest challenge.”

Candidates need to be able to spend a lot of their own money, raise money from others, or both, she added.

4. Experienced agents and advisors may be better prepared than most newcomers to handle campaign management and campaign finances.

“I can’t imagine anyone without a sales and marketing background trying to do this,” Robinson said.

Running a campaign is like running a small business, and setting up an independent agency, or even building a substantial book of business as a career agent, takes many of the same types of skills, she added.

5. Insurance issues are different from other kinds of issues.

Robinson suggested that soaring car insurance premiums, and health insurance payment policies that contribute to hospital shutdowns, are the kinds of issues that can bring people from different parties together.

“This is not a partisan issue,” she said. “No one wants to overpay for insurance.”

Janice Laws Robinson. (Photo: Robinson)


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