I’ve been scared of sitting down and talking about insurance with someone for awhile now.
I’m not sure exactly why, Sandi had a few theories in our LAST EPISODE OF BECAUSE MONEY, when we talked about all of this.
But John really cut through the shit and made me realize that I was making excuses about something that was really important.
If you want to see the moment he broke through to me… you can find it at 36:11 of the video below.
And so I set up a meeting with an insurance broker.
Finding a broker: my tiny excuse for not making any progress
For the last 6 months one of my many excuses for not learning more about my insurance options was that I didn’t know who to talk to.
I know a few insurance brokers in other provinces, and had casual conversations with them about hypothetical clients (some of which existed and some of which were me).
But I didn’t know where to start looking for a broker that could actually sell me insurance.
I wanted someone perfect. Someone I could instantly trust and would dispel any of the baggage I have built up about the insurance industry, who wouldn’t pressure me into buying anything I was uncomfortable with and who could answer my many many questions.
And I had already decided that person didn’t exist…. so why even try to find them?
Google. Google. Google.
I wish I had a smarter answer for finding the best broker.
I wish I knew a ton of people in the industry so I could provide a list of the best ones.
And I hope that over the next decade I can do that, so that more of you can quickly connect to someone who understands that the complexity of creative income.
But I started simply by starting, and I feel like I got quite lucky.
I did a bunch of googling, I asked friends for connections, and then I just sent a bunch of emails through contact pages and waited.
Not for long…
Turns out insurance sales people are on the ball. I got a call back within 30 minutes from someone who asked a few questions and then referred me to one of his brokers that specialized in disability insurance.
Insurance broker vs non-broker
One of the interesting things I found when I was talking to people in the insurance business was how often I would hear the opposite side of the same coin.
From my broker friend I heard:
“Never trust anyone who isn’t a broker, if they’re not shopping between companies they honestly don’t care about you.”
And from my friend who works exclusively with one company:
“The insurance business is generally a copycat industry. Most companies have the same kinds of products, and so brokers just shop around for the best commission.”
This is the kind of shit that makes me feel like I’m standing in a sinkhole.
How do you know what’s true? How do you know who to trust? How do you know that you’re not making a huge mistakes?
Unsatisfying answer… I don’t know.
I have not found that all products, especially disability products, are equal between companies… but I am not an expert.
What I will tell you is that I was very happy to work with someone who had relationships with people from multiple companies because opera singers… are a hard sell.
A brief note on ‘occupational class’:
Here’s where opera singers, artists, and lots of other creative folk get screwed.
Insurance underwriters break down people into risk categories based on what they do. The riskier the profession, the more expensive it is to insure (that’s a gross oversimplification… but hopefully it’s enough for the point I’m trying to make).
And some occupations are deemed ‘uninsurable’…. like opera singing…. by most companies.
I get it.
Our business has a terrible reputation, and it really matters. Who’s going to insure a starving artist with low financial skills? Not many people.
We have yet to prove to this industry that there is an artistic middle class that has managed to secure a level of income stability that should put us on the map.
But that’s a tangent for another day.
For now, the problem in front of us is marked UNINSURABLE.
The power of knowing who to email
I have met my broker once, and talked to him twice.
I don’t know him intimately, but he made a very good impression.
Here’s what I liked:
- he specializes in disability insurance for the self-employed (which is something that lots of brokers don’t know a ton about)
- he really knew the products, everything that I had researched he knew more about than I did
- he took the time to break down everything and answer a hundred questions
- he knew who would be open to working with artists, and who wouldn’t be
- he knew who to email
Knowing who to email seems to have gotten my uninsurable occupational class by the initial system and in front of an actual human that could look at my particular case.
I may not be able to show a lot of income, but I can prove a level of income stability that is growing by the year.
My broker’s connection to actual underwriting humans allowed me to put through a successful application for disability insurance at a price and premium level that I’m very satisfied with.
I’ll keep you posted on what happens next….
Rags to Reasonable Community Outreach Coordinator
Emily Nixon is an actor/writer/director/filmmaking Swiss Army Knife. She is also a big money nerd and Community Outreach Coordinator for Rags to Reasonable.
She came to this work after becoming completely fed up with living paycheque-to-paycheque and being too afraid to look in her chequing account. She is passionate about empowering other artists and variable income earners to keep doing what they love and feel confident about their finances.
Email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org