Women in Insurance Leadership 2019—Maureen Gallagher, Assured Partners
With no finish line in sight, Maureen Gallagher’s 45-year insurance trajectory is a testament to the industry’s evolution as well as the role of women in it.
“When I graduated from high school in 1974, my parents believed boys went to college, but girls did not,” explains Gallagher, who is now agency president and national real estate and workers compensation practice leader with the Orlando-based AssuredPartners brokerage firm. “So, at age 17, I applied for a secretarial job at the boiler and machinery department of Zurich Insurance and they hired me.”
Although her office lacked female role models, the indefatigable Gallagher fell in love with the industry for its focus on making lives whole. “I seized opportunities as they arose through the years, even if I wasn’t completely ready,” says Gallagher. “I call it an accidental career.”
What clearly isn’t accidental is Gallagher’s ability to identify professional matches for her innate skills. This propelled her to becoming a recognized “Top 1%” producer in the commercial real estate and workers compensation markets.
Gallagher’s transition from support to production began around age 19, when she volunteered to fill-in as an underwriter. During that period, Gallagher asked about two male office visitors who were considerably more engaging than her otherwise-staid colleagues.
“I was told they were agents, but I didn’t know what an agent was,” she says. “Upon learning about an agent’s roles and responsibilities, it was an “aha” moment.”
Peer mentoring comes at a critical moment
A quick learner, Gallagher credits peer mentoring with also making a difference. While president of the brokerage Acordia, the organizations introverted CFO, who reported to Gallagher, supplied positive and unvarnished observations on what she described as Gallagher’s “extreme extroversion.”
“When I invaded my CFO’s personal space, I could be so overwhelming that she couldn’t hear what I was saying,” recalls Gallagher. “It was a comical and insightful moment.”
Gallagher considers this gift as vital to helping her become a successful leader and producer. Indeed, her accomplishments at Acordia enabled leveraging her client relationships and industry reputation to establish her own firm in 2001. The endeavor included what was then an aspirational industry goal to be paperless. “After all of the years of managing information in manila folders, I decided I wanted to be paperless from day one,” she says.
Working with an insurance IT integrator, Gallagher’s firm deployed a leading agency management system and adapted it to be paperless. “Although our technology partners were outstanding, much of it we figured out on our own,” she says. “When you challenge people, it’s amazing how they step up to the challenge.”
Unsurprisingly, some individuals were less enthusiastic and continued creating printouts. “I literally removed our copiers and printers for two months to get the final two individuals onboard,” Gallagher says.
A few years later, Gallagher sold her firm to the Neace Lukens brokerage, now an AssuredPartners’ company, taking her can-do technology attitude with her. “Initially, others at Neace Lukens argued larger accounts couldn’t be paperless,” says Gallagher. “I countered that my firm had been writing large accounts without paper, so it just wasn’t true.”
Today, Gallagher maintains a client book with commissions and fees exceeding $3 million annually while shifting her focus to teaching and mentoring upcoming generations. “Leaving a legacy of helping as many people as I can, at an important time in their careers, is incredibly rewarding work that keeps me energized.”