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Those making dire prognostications about agents four decades ago appear to have underestimated the staying power and resiliency of some of the insurance industry's most entrepreneurial players. Their story became one of adaptation rather than extinction as agents retooled their infrastructure and personnel. (Bigstock) Those making dire prognostications about agents four decades ago appear to have underestimated the staying power and resiliency of some of the insurance industry’s most entrepreneurial players. Their story became one of adaptation rather than extinction as agents retooled their infrastructure and personnel. (Bigstock)

My insurance career began 40 years ago when I was hired as the independent-agent beat reporter for National Underwriter magazine. While so much has changed since then, the desire of so many consumers to have a professional advisor help them manage their risks, navigate the esoteric world of insurance policy terms, and settle claims has surprisingly not changed much at all.

I wrote my first NU article on a Royal office manual typewriter — a far cry from today’s web-connected laptops with cool functions that were unimaginable back in September 1981. Talk of tech-driven disintermediation was already rampant. I recall feeling a bit queasy as I summarized a report bluntly predicting that my primary readership was likely “doomed to go the way of the milkman” by the end of the decade, if not sooner, as automation replaced live agents to handle sales and service.

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