Lloyd Hinn grew up in the small town of Rushville, Nebraska. It was an idyllic life growing up for Hinn whose father was a local entrepreneur. Hinn went to Kearney State College (now the University of Nebraska-Kearney) but stayed close to home to work with his dad. His dad had a Manufactured Housing Dealership which was successful enough to have grown to three dealerships within 15 years. Later in life, Hinn would start a New Manufactured Housing Dealership in Casper, Wyoming and eventually moving to Lincoln, Nebraska, to stay close to his children. He started another dealership that became a huge success until the real estate bubble in 2008-2010 decimated the industry. Hinn transitioned to becoming an independent insurance agent, selling auto and home insurance but with a priority on health insurance. Helping guide consumers through the sometimes-confusing maze of insurance rules and regulations has been Hinn’s pastime for the last seven years, though he always enjoys getting behind the controls of a small aircraft to fly the skies of Nebraska.
Why did you decide to create your own business?
When I closed my business in Lincoln, I tried to get jobs with other people. I worked for Allstate for about a year but I just didn’t like working for other people. Entrepreneurialism runs in my family, and I’ve done it before, so I’m not shy about starting a new business. Insurance was a good fit for me so I started my own business around it, and it’s worked out well.
What do you love most about the industry you are in?
I like the challenges of selling different kinds of insurance and growing my business while having a flexible schedule during most of the year.
What does a typical day consist of for you?
Open enrollment for the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace is November 1st through December 15th, and for Medicare it’s October 15th through December 7th. This is an incredibly busy time for me as that is when the vast majority of people are paying attention to signing up for health insurance coverage. It’s kind of like the months leading up to April 15th are the busy times for accountants and tax preparers. I have been renting a booth at Wal-Mart and operating it for three days a week to create business with new clients. Working from my home, which is where I work now.
Each one of my customers need to be reenrolled annually, so I spend a good amount of my time helping them with that. This entails making contact with each client to see if their income has changed and helping them make adjustments for their new policies. I also receive calls from clients and make appointments when they need help with an existing policy. During the rest of the year, I pretty much work with people who are turning 65 and are switching to Medicare or people that require special enrollment for the ACA marketplace. But that time of year is slower. It’s really nice, actually. I like the time I have during the summer when my schedule is more open and I can play golf. But during open enrollment, I’m working 15-hour days all week.
What keeps you motivated?
With insurance, it’s all about helping people. I really enjoy that part of what I do and getting individuals connected to insurance plans that will help lead to better health outcomes or get them through an emergency situation is very gratifying to me.
How do you motivate others?
With most insurance, like life insurance, you have to go look for clients. But with the ACA and health insurance in general, it’s so important to people and their lives and families that a lot of times they’ll come to me and make sure that they get renewed. They make it a priority for themselves and that’s where I find the motivation. I send out cards to remind them about open enrollment. I have a very low rate of people leaving me every year.
How has your company grown from its early days to now?
This year was a difficult one to sign people up for Medicaid because of COVID. My walkup business at Wal-Mart was very slow because people were staying away from shopping or avoiding people. Every year, my Medicare enrollments have gone up, but this year they didn’t. My ACA enrollment was about the same. In Nebraska, they had expanded Medicaid, but I don’t get commissions on those, so it made it more difficult. But I’d been growing every year until last year. It is still challenging because of COVID, but I’m trying to join a new brokerage this year and they’re offering leads and things like that for clients, so I’m hopeful that business will pick back up.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Insurance agents have to qualify for programs or take tests all the time for a wide range of things, so that inspires me to stay on top of everything I need to do to help my clients. For every insurance company that you write for you have to take tests and go through AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans), and then the insurance company has tests that you have to go through. Every two years to keep your license, you have to do some continuing education. Most of it is online.
Who has been a role model to you and why?
Mostly my dad was when I grew up, and my uncle Charlie that lived in Rushville. My uncle had a hardware store. Living in a small town, I was entrepreneurial and bought buildings and had businesses and things like that. Rushville was always a nice place to grow up and then raise your family.
How do you maintain a solid work life balance?
It’s always hard working from home, but I guess I have kind of grown into it. If I have a client that calls me needing some help, they become my top priority. Every day I have probably about two hours at least that I have to help clients like that.
What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?
Medicare is wide open right now, because there are so many people turning 65. But there are a lot of insurance people out there. I’ve tried to get into group health, but that’s always been something hard for me to break into because the established agents already have their clientele and it’s hard to get them to change. It’s much the same way with individual insurance: They all have their clients set up now, and so for a new agent to come in and start like I did, I think it would be pretty hard.
What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?
It was paying the bills when I first got started in health insurance. When I was in the mobile home business, money was never a problem. I always provided very well for my family. But now it’s just making sure that my clients have what they need. It can also be very difficult to stay on top of all the changes in the insurance industry.
Outside of work, what defines you as a person?
I’m getting back into flying. I got my private pilot license in 1985. I was looking to get back into it again and getting my IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) rating. I’ve been considering buying a computer right now with a yoke and flight stick to practice that so that I can do a lot of that stuff on the ground and get to know it better so when I take the test it will be easier to pass it.
When I first started flying, there was no GPS. Pilots had to go with radio navigation, which was really choppy at the time. Today they have all kinds of inventive things like in-flight weather on a display in front of you or GPS where you can set your controls to go from, say, Lincoln to Rushville, and all you have to do is set your altitude and the plane will basically fly itself.
When we first started, my brother and cousin and I went in together and bought a Cherokee 150, and that’s how we got our licenses. We trained on that with instructors. After five years we sold that. Since then, I’ve rented planes like Cessna 182s or Arrows.
Once you’re a pilot, you’re always a pilot. As far as the FAA is concerned, you don’t have to get a new license, but you have to pass a biannual test every two years. So, if you haven’t flown for a while you have to do a biannual, which is flying with an instructor until he feels that he’s comfortable with you flying by yourself.