Rising Star Desiree Jimerson on Employee Benefit Consulting and What It Means to Foster Support in the Industry
Come see the Stars! As part of our ongoing coverage of the best brokers in the commercial insurance space, Risk & Insurance®, with the sponsorship of Philadelphia Insurance, is expanding its coverage of the Rising Stars, those brokers who represent the next wave of insurance brokering talent.
Look for these expanded profiles on the Risk & Insurance website and in your social media feeds now and continuing into 2022.
Here we speak with Desiree Jimerson, executive vice president, AssuredPartners, and a 2021 Employee Benefits Power Broker and Rising Star.
Risk & Insurance: What led you to your career as an employee benefits broker? Was an insurance career always the plan?
Desiree Jimerson: While I was in college, I got a part-time job working in customer service for a local insurance broker in Phoenix, Arizona. I never thought that this would be my long-time career. It was a very small brokerage office, and they serviced a lot of small businesses and a lot of individuals.
The people who were calling in were often confused and often upset. I kind of found a passion in helping those people by means of communication and guidance.
This broker in Phoenix put together various communication strategies internally so that they could help their employees. And I found a passion for it. Helping people was my passion, and that was what really started my path towards growing my career in insurance.
R&I: How did the pandemic impact your work as a broker and what did you do to help your clients weather the storm?
DJ: It’s been an interesting couple of years. Meeting with people virtually, I think, has been one of the biggest challenges and blessings.
Prior to this, most of our clients wanted to meet face to face. Helping our clients understand not only just from a virtual meeting at the client level, but also how we can start launching communication campaigns virtually to reach all of their employees, has been a really exciting evolution for what we do in the employee benefits space.
The other side of it was helping our clients as they faced so many problems and tried to keep their doors open in understanding all the different laws that came into impact throughout the pandemic.
We were enlisted to help them through the subsidy process and Cobra notification process for layoffs that they had. We also helped them in getting any type of premium allocations or subsidies from carriers, premium holidays and other things like that.
It was definitely a new development in our own business, and at times, it was pivoting and chaotic. But it was also really, really fulfilling that we were able to step up and help our clients during a time that they needed us the very most in my entire career.
R&I: What are some of the ways that you keep yourself current on the trends and goings-on in the industry?
DJ: I’m very fortunate to work for a company that provides a ton of education and support.
We have several attorneys on staff that provide top legislative updates and are up-to-date and current on additional policies and legislature or strategies in the world. We also are able to pass on that communication to our clients.
And we have really great relationships with our carrier partners and vendor partners, which we also we lean on for support, knowledge, updates and more.
For myself, I’m always a student. I always want to remain a student; I’m always open to learning. So I read all the books and news articles and anything that I can wrap my hands around and learn from.
R&I: What is an accomplishment in your career that you are proudest of and why? What made it so special for you?
DJ: We had a client that was essentially looking at a 40% renewal increase. They have several hundred employees, and the pandemic had impacted them in a huge way, seeing that they’re a travel agency.
They had kept their employees insured for 12 months through the pandemic. Then, unfortunately, they started having to go through some layoffs.
Through that process, their participation on a health plan went down, but their claims stayed steady and their utilization was through the roof. So, they were facing this 40% increase when times couldn’t have been tougher for their business, specifically, and it just wasn’t sustainable or affordable.
The client was actually looking at the option of paying ACA fines and penalties, because at this point, it would have been cheaper to go with heavy penalties from the Affordable Care Act. However, we were able to work with a couple of our carrier partners to put together a very niche program that kept their insurance intact, kept their benefits at comparable positions for their employees and kept their contributions level.
It was super, super cool being able to get them situated, even with a stressful few months of pulling the resources to get there. And the client was really, really happy at the end of the day to be able to continue to offer their employees health benefits.
R&I: You’ve been recognized as a 2021 Rising Star — a program that honors hard-working young professionals in the industry. What are some of your goals for the future that you hope will continue to demonstrate your dedication?
DJ: I continue to develop in my career. I actually manage a sales team now, and my goal is to mentor other young, driven professionals who want to get into the insurance fields or expand their career in the insurance field.
I think that we are highly misrepresented in insurance. I think that this is a great career, and we can really make an impact on helping people and businesses.
That’s my path and my passion at this point, to help develop and mentor like-minded individuals exploring a career in insurance. &