Barbara Langley is a business columnist for The Examiner. Reacher at 816-350-3269 or

If you are unemployed or facing major cutbacks, here is a story that reinforces the belief that when one door closes another opens.

Loretta Polzin, insurance consultant, is an entrepreneur owning AFS at 11004 E. U.S. 40, Suite 117, Independence. But, she wasn’t always an insurance consultant. Polzin grew up in on a farm in central Kansas, attended Kansas State and received a degree in Home Economics.

Out of college, she found a job at Interstate Bakeries, in Kansas City, where she worked for over 19 years. Then one day “the door closed” and she was out of a job.

“I had always done personal investments for myself, so when I was looking for a job in 1989, I decided to look into this as a career change,” said Polzin.

“I found openings for financial positions for major insurance companies, but it wasn’t what I was looking for; no fit.”

In 1990, Polzin finally found what she was looking for in a newspaper ad from a small health insurance company that offered only one plan. She worked there for more than a year and found that potential customers were looking for a selection of plans to choose from.

“It was tough working for this small company, but at least they had a lead program,” she said. “I got clients from this program, which I still retain today.” 

Her general manager suggested that she join the local chamber to expand her horizons. She became an active member in both the Independence Chamber of Commerce and the Blue Springs Chamber of Commerce. It was at the Independence Chamber that she met two other agents who had multi-line insurance-one agents for property insurance and another for life and health insurance. After almost two years, Polzin decided to start her own business.

In 1992 she opened AFS (which really has no translation for the letters) on South Hocker in Independence. In April 2004 she opened her doors at her present location at Embassy Suites office complex on U.S. 40.

Start up

It takes a lot of startup work to be a consultant, she said. You don’t just open the door and proclaim yourself a consultant. Polzin obtained a license to sell health, life insurance and long-term care insurance with the state of Missouri, which required taking classes and a test. She is also licensed in Kansas and Texas. Every two years she must renew her license and take continuing education classes. In addition, she obtained a securities license to sell mutual funds and retirement plans, which also requires classes and testing. She estimates that start up fees cost about $2,500.

Polzin explained that the next steps in startup includes office space and developing a client base either through leads, other agent referrals, but most importantly through Chamber contacts. AFS has more 300 clients.

Industry concerns

Her concern is about national health care. It is the same concerns that the media reports. She said the question is how national health care will be developed; it could be the end of the insurance agent as we know it.

There just won’t be any need for insurance agents. But, she added, the nation has been discussing national health care since Harry Truman was president 60 years ago.

“I’ve had lots of doors close in my life, but I always believe another one will open,” she said.

Loretta Polzin is an Independence resident and when she isn’t working, she enjoys sewing and walking. She walks three miles every day before breakfast. For further information, call 816-478-6654.