After Allison Sharpe, North & Central Florida Territory Manager, graduated from Florida State University, her goal was to become a U.S. Marshal. She enjoyed law enforcement mostly because she could help elevate the good and try and prevent the bad in her community, but she wasn’t sure she wanted a career in law enforcement.
A friend mentioned job opportunities in insurance, which wasn’t a draw at first, but intrigued her as she learned more. There were two paths that had elements that fit her strengths. The first was SIU (Special Investigative Unit) which was similar to law enforcement: find the bad guys and stop or prevent fraudulent behavior. The second opportunity was an underwriting position, where you act as the gatekeeper for quality risks while working with agents and brokers to help them find the types of risks the insurer desires. The company offered her the underwriter position, and she found her starting point for a career in insurance.
After two years, Allison’s mentor and separately, her manager, recognized that she needed to move beyond gatekeeper and focus more on building relationships. She was doing that already, but she was ready to move to a marketing role, working directly with local, independent agents to help grow company revenue. She replaced a retiring sales rep and has held similar roles ever since.
Allison knows her success comes from empathy and listening. “The client isn’t always right, but you need to understand their perspective…empathize with them. Make it easy for them…get to know their business…who is their star producer? What is important? What is their business plan for five years?” She continues, “Even when I get phone calls from upset people, sometimes listening is all you have to do…show you care. They just want communication. Everyone has their way of absorbing the information…you need to know what they need. They will appreciate it.”
This truth hit home when she had to deliver bad news to some of her agents when one of her former carriers went into receivership. The agents cared more about her well being than the expiring policies. Many had the same sentiment, “We’ll rewrite these policies, but what about you?” These strong relationships help Allison succeed, regardless of company she represents.
In 2017, Allison started hearing about Velocity Risk, a new company in Florida that was growing the property insurance market in coastal areas. She made a curiosity call and knew she had to update her resume. After her interview in Nashville, she wanted to join the company. She was impressed with everyone she met, especially the CEO, Phil Bowie. She liked the idea of building something new. She had experience with successful and not-so-successful companies and knew she could be THE person to bring the product to market.
Jose de Diego, Director of Independent Agencies first met Allison on a layover in the Atlanta airport, during her second week at Velocity. They were beginning a weeklong trip across the Florida panhandle. “Almost five years later, I continue to learn from Allison,” stated Jose. “Many of her agency relationships go far beyond insurance. Her honest approach is how she is able to develop long lasting relationships both internally and externally that far outreach the everyday and personify Velocity’s culture and values.”
No job comes without its challenges, and when Velocity made some strategic decisions to ensure a financially stable market in Florida, Allison was able to rely on her honesty and professionalism and the team for support. And by team, she means everyone from the senior leadership to every member of the personal lines team. She knows Velocity is in it for the long haul, and thanks to strong camaraderie and lots of grit, the Florida market will remain strong.
Katie O’Neil is Allison’s counterpart in West Coast/Tri-County Florida. She believes that Allison plays a huge roll in the cohesiveness of the sales team. “I consider myself incredibly fortunate to work alongside someone as kind, helpful, knowledgeable and trustworthy as Allison. She consistently steps up to the plate on behalf of our organization and agency partners and always seeks out solutions for the good of all involved. She is an overall fabulous person, and I’m thankful to also call her my friend.”
When Allison is not building relationships with independent agents and coworkers at Velocity, she enjoys time on the water, any water with her husband and two sons. She loves boating, kayaking, paddle boarding and simply floating on a raft in her pool. Allison is also on the board of Oceans of Hope Foundation, which offers adaptive ocean access for individuals with limited mobility. When she learned that Velocity was launching a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, she knew she had to join. She loves the energy of the group and is grateful for a chance to learn about more ways to help others and grow even more as a person.