By the time he got out of college, Jonathan Jeans knew what he wanted to do; help people. Not sure how to go about it, he started working in an insurance agency answering phones.
He quickly discovered his calling.
“I learned that people can be intimidated by insurance and might avoid something they really need,” he said.
In the business for 15 years now, he bought his Farm Bureau Insurance agency in Nolensville in 2013 after working for another Farm Bureau office for five years. Jeans is one of 202,000 licensed agents in Tennessee.
“I saw a lot of potential growth in Nolensville back then," he said. "Little did I know just how much the town would grow. Obviously, it’s still growing.”
Farm Bureau insurance focuses on personal home, auto and life insurance. Based in Columbia, Tennessee, they have at least one office in every Tennessee county. Jeans’ agency is located on Nolensville Road.
When asked what he wishes people knew about insurance, Jeans was quick to respond.
“I wish they knew the Farm Bureau is a membership organization. We really want to help our members,” he said. (Membership costs $30 a year and is open to any Tennessee resident.) “We’re not looking to avoid responsibility. We don’t try to find ways to not pay claims.”
He took a moment to consider the question a bit more. “No one wants to pay for insurance, but if you need it, the amount you’re paying is actually small compared to what it will cost you if you don’t have it.”
Do people generally have enough insurance? Not surprisingly, Jeans says no. He believes that some people are under insured and they are not aware of how much risk they are taking. “Take liability insurance, for example,” he said.
“For $100 to $150 in additional coverage, you can protect your assets. Many people don’t realize that someone injured on your property can come after those assets. It can be devastating.”
Jeans feels the same way about life insurance: “Life insurance is another area that people tend to ignore. And, sadly, as a result of COVID-19, some people have discovered that not having enough life insurance can be catastrophic when a family member who was the breadwinner dies.”
When I asked Jeans what surprises him most about running an insurance agency, he said, “Marketing insurance via the Internet has turned it into somewhat of a commodity. Online marketing pitches can be misleading both in terms of what you’re buying and what you really need,” he said.
There are potential advantages to purchasing insurance online, including convenience and potential discounts. But Jeans offered additional insight. “A trained insurance agent can help you to understand your options. They can offer guidance in terms of what you’re paying for as well as what you need and what you may not need. Proper guidance can save money for clients.”
Running an insurance agency is, of course, a serious business. Is it possible to have fun in that business? According to Jeans, he loves it when clients refer new customers to him. It gives him a sense of satisfaction that he is helping people.
“Clients become friends,” he said. “In this business I get to participate in the full circle of life in some ways. Whether it’s a new home, a new baby, or something unwelcome like a car wreck, I get to grow with my clients.” Jeans also pointed out that there are difficult moments. “It hurts when you’ve tried to reach people, and they procrastinate. Then something happens and they aren’t properly covered.”
Has setting up shop in Nolensville turned out well for Jeans and his agency?
“Oh yes, business has doubled in the eight years we’ve been here. We have added employees and I’m pleased to say that they have been with me quite a while. They are quite knowledgeable.”
Jeans believes that, considering Nolensville’s growth, anyone who starts a business here is going to benefit from the town’s continued growth. “The critical piece is providing an exceptional level of service that makes it possible to retain that business and earn you more referrals.”
Jeans earned bachelors and master’s degrees in business at Austin Peay State University. He resides with his wife in daughter in Brentwood.