Insurance Industry Remains Vital

Mar 16, 2009

Tampa Tribune--March 16, 2009

Hernando Today

Job prospecting within the insurance industry is growing year by year while unemployment continues to soar mostly everywhere else in the private sector.

As more people lose their jobs, more people are turning to insurance brokers to purchase inexpensive policies to last them until they return to work.

“We’re surprised to see this amount of growth, but it’s good to see some industry have growth,” said Michael Basiaga, the chief executive officer of Florida Online School of Insurance. “Regardless of how bad the economy is, it seems sales positions are always growing.”

Basiaga, who lives in Delray Beach, offers a 40-hour online school for people seeking licenses. Enrollment for his school and other online programs will continue to increase, he said.

The Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation recently published numbers that show how the insurance industry is bucking all the current trends.

Employment projections for insurance sales are expected to grow annually by nearly 2.5 percent until 2016, making it one of the highest-seeking industries in Florida among students and those changing careers, according to the agency.

“These data serve as a guide to show what jobs are in the highest demand for placement,” said economist Rebecca Rust.

The numbers are even higher in Hernando County, where the annual increase is 2.76 percent and the average hourly wage for local agents is $27.55, Basiaga said.

“This is an impressive discovery considering unemployment has marked an unwanted milestone,” he said.

Hernando County’s unemployment rate for January was at 12.4 percent, its highest in more than 33 years.

Brokers just starting out are looking at an average entry salary of nearly $29,000 per year, according to AWI statistics.

The agency also reported the average annual salary for an experienced insurance broker in Florida is more than $69,000.

Insurance recipients have a wider selection compared to years past. They can lower or increase their deductibles and remove various line items from their plans to adjust their monthly costs.

The multiple types of available insurance include health and life, fixed annuities, long-term care policies, HMOs and Medicare-supplement plans.

The recently approved federal stimulus bill also has made COBRA coverage more affordable for individuals and families, Basiaga said.