Gloria Murphy has been a part of the insurance industry for nearly five decades. She started her career in 1971 at a two-person insurance office in Edmonton, where her job included typing policies on a typewriter and answering calls. A decade later, she co-founded Murrick Insurance Services, which now has 10 locations across Greater Vancouver and over 100 employees.

Over the years, Murphy has used her extensive knowledge and industry experience to educate and mentor others. She’s served on the board of the Insurance Brokers Association of British Columbia (IBABC) and the National Association of Insurance Women. She has also taught classes for IBABC.

Now let’s get to her answers.

What was your first job as an insurance broker?

It was with Johnson and Higgins. I had a book of clients and the job included sales, marketing and servicing for those clients. It was my first job working with the public and it was a great learning experience. I discovered that I enjoyed working as a broker more than underwriting and since then I have always been a broker.

Was there a learning curve when you started your own brokerage?

It was a totally different learning experience. I had to set up and register a company, get the appropriate licensing and negotiate insurance contracts. Fortunately, I had great relationships with several insurers and opened the doors of Murrick Insurance with zero clients and six company contracts.

My first office was in Richmond, but we quickly moved to Vancouver when we acquired an ICBC contract to offer Autoplan. I also started getting more home, auto and commercial insurance clients. It was challenging because before I set up Murrick I had never sold auto or home insurance, but I’m thankful for friends who taught me all the missing pieces.

After about a year and a half of working on my own seven days a week, I hired my first employee and the firm slowly began to grow.

The world of insurance is changing. What new opportunities do you see for customers and brokers going forward?

Technology has played a big part in progress and creating new opportunities. We purchased our first DOS-based computer around 1990 and it only had one gigabyte of memory. My mobile phone now has 64 gigabytes.

Going forward, I can see how there will be more automation in placing insurance or having a policy issued. There are many benefits to this kind of progress, including having all types of information at our fingertips and instant communication. The downside is that in speeding up the process, it has taken away some of the time for contemplation and solving complex problems. When decisions are needed to be made quickly, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger picture.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve insured?

At one brokerage I worked for we insured all kinds of shipments. One of the shipments was bull semen for artificial insemination. It was from pedigree bull for the cattle industry and was very fragile and expensive to ship and insure, but it was cheaper than shipping the bull to visit the cows.

Can you share some of the lessons you’ve learned from your career in insurance?

Honesty, integrity and ethics are all important. We all make mistakes from time to time, but it’s critical to own your mistakes. You never lose a client’s trust by admitting an error, in fact it reassures them that you are human.

What advice would you give younger people that are coming into the industry?

Always be honest, ethical and have empathy when dealing with your clients, especially when they have a claim. Don’t lose the personal touch and don’t rely on technology for all your communication. Have an open and inquiring mind, but most of all have fun.

Check out Murrick Insurance’s official website here.

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