Everybody needs insurance, but many people think all insurance is the same, or they think they only need the cheapest policy. Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth, and too often people end up with auto, home, or life insurance that doesn’t meet their needs, or they are underinsured and end up in a crisis in the event that tragedy strikes. The best way to guarantee that you’re appropriately covered is to work with a reputable insurance company and an agent who cares about you and your family.
Farm Bureau Financial Services has been taking care of people for nearly 80 years. Based in Des Moines, IA, the company was founded to provide insurance to Midwest farmers. Today, 4,000 agents help all people, operating as their own business owners but within an experienced team. Jay Miralles heads up one of the larger teams in Omaha, mentoring 30 agents. Once a well-known local radio DJ, Jay “Towers,” he entered the financial services industry 15 years ago after experiencing first-hand how devastating it can be on a family financially when a close friend of his suddenly passed away. “I wanted to be able to help someone during their darkest hour,” he said.
After six years as an agent, Miralles was presented with the opportunity to be a field leader. “I couldn’t believe someone wanted me to become an agency manager, but they said, ‘Take what you do so well and replicate it so others can do it too,’” he said. “I fell in love with finding people who’ve never had a meaningful career or a good mentor and helping them realize it’s possible to have both.” Mentoring actually comes naturally for Miralles. Growing up he watched his dad help others at every turn, and he internalized that, now focusing on giving back regardless of whether or not it results in any kind of return.
That desire to help others is a key attribute that all of his agents have in common. Jerry Wellwood grew up the oldest of three boys and considers himself the “big brother” who takes care of all his clients. “I’m the person they can lean on for their worst day,” he said. “I reassure them they’re in good hands, and I’m their immediate sounding board.” Agent Joe Ramos, who was medically retired from the Air Force after suffering from a brain aneurism at age 29, prides himself on being his clients’ “go to guy,” a role he had as a navigator on the RC 135 while stationed at Offutt Air Force Base. “My military background taught me professionalism, integrity, and putting others first,” he said.
Miralles admitted that being an insurance agent isn’t for everyone, but those who are the most successful are people who work hard and have a steel backbone. “This business isn’t easy; you have to be resilient. We’re told ‘no’ seven out of 10 times, but we keep working and giving back to the community.” That hard work is displayed through the numerous awards his district has won, although Miralles is quick to point out it’s not about the awards. “I’m most proud about our pay it forward culture and the way our agents help our clients, but also help each other,” he said.
Each agent is an independent business owner, setting their own schedule and working toward their own goals. Agent Keia Jensen said she’s putting all of her time into growing her business now, so that she can have flexibility when she and her husband start a family. And much of what she does is simply educate people, especially younger families just starting out. “There are a lot of people who don’t understand what they’re paying for, and I want to help them make the best decision possible,” she said.
Agent Ken Mason is also an educator, having worked in multiple sales roles his entire career, including the auto industry. “I want to educate people so that mistakes don’t happen,” he said. “I give people lots of choices, and they have to live with their decision, but I have to live with whether or not they are happy.” The agents also want their clients to know they are available 24/7, providing their personal contact information to ensure they can be reached. “I was on vacation last year during the June storm and worked with my clients remotely who had issues as a result of it,” said agent Melissa McMurray.
One key philosophy that Miralles lives by and stresses to all his agents is that no matter where you’re at in life, don’t stay in a situation you feel stuck in. “If you’re going to fail at something, don’t fail standing still,” he said. “This business isn’t for everyone, but if you’re a hard worker and love serving others, solving problems, and owning your own time, consider being an agent. And if you don’t understand your current insurance coverage or want to feel secure that your family is protected, consider working with one of our agents. It will be worth it.”