When asked how she learned about the insurance industry, Ashley Riggs, commercial lines account manager is quick to mention InVEST. She attended Edgewater High School in Orlando Fla. and enrolled in a business entrepreneurial class which included the InVEST program.
“We pretended to run an insurance agency and would rate insurance for classmates. It was a lot of fun and the guest speakers were wonderful. After high school, I didn’t think much of it—no one dreams of being an insurance agent.” said Riggs.
But, Ashley Riggs found an internship at Hugh Cotton Insurance and in five short years, moved to an assistant, then a customer service representative (CSR) and today is the commercial lines account manager with a 220 insurance license.
“It all happened back to back to back and the whole time I was still going to school. I proved early on that I have a good work ethic and they like it,” said says.
Nights were devoted to INS courses at Valencia Community College, and by the time she earned her associates in arts, she knew insurance was the career for her. There was upward mobility and as a single mom, it gave her an opportunity to provide for her 5 year old and be a role model—her daughter thinks it’s so cool she works at an insurance agency.
Interestingly, during her internship, Riggs connected with a mentor, Kevin Mangan a producer in the agency who just so happened to be a guest speaker during her time at Edgewater High School.
“He volunteers me for everything, so that I continue to learn,” she said. “Young people in the industry are willing to learn and are not set in their ways. A lot of time, when people have been in the industry for a long time, they don’t want to do new things. The technology is changing and if you have someone younger you have someone who is willing to learn. It’s been a wonderful opportunity for me because I’ve had someone push me the whole way.”
Today, Riggs is giving back to the industry and her community. She is chair of events for the Young Agents Council of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents and is a zone coordinator for central Fla.
It was helpful that I was a member of the Young Agents Council because they gave me contacts that I wouldn’t have access to. Instead of taking courses I didn’t need I was taking courses that would help me in my career. My advice is to meet as many people as you can and take every opportunity that is handed to you. It’s going to be a learning experience.”
“Insurance is a wonderful industry with so much opportunity and it’s not going away. Agency managers are always willing to invest in your education if you are willing to learn. It’s a dependable industry, people need insurance. Your day is different every day. It’s always a learning experience and it’s constantly changing and it’s always different—it keeps it exciting.”