When Melissa Snively graduated from college, she began working as a national consultant for her University of Florida sorority. The job required long and strenuous hours, though, so she wanted to find a new opportunity. She had a friend who worked for State Farm who suggested she join the company. In 1994, she started as an underwriter, then became an agent before opening her own State Farm agency in 2001.
Making a Difference
Snively says the best thing about her career is meeting and learning about new people. As an agent, she loved hearing her clients’ stories. Now an agency owner, she loves training and developing her team, working collaboratively on strategies to improve the business.
A successful agent, says Snively, should be a good problem-solver and good at assessing risk, but they should also have excellent people skills. “You have to have the added value of being able to work with customers and they have to be able to see the value of having a professional, someone who can give them good advice and good counsel,” she says.
Snively talks about a time that reinforced the importance of her work. Recently, she delivered a check to a woman whose husband had passed after a long illness. Because of the life insurance Snively helped put in place, her client's widow and two children were able to stay in their house and fund their education without having to make drastic financial decisions.
The Importance of Political Advocacy
Snively has always been interested in politics and political advocacy and says her first NAIFA-FL Legislative Day was eye-opening. “[It] was really impactful, getting to understand the process and meet legislators and see what kind of impact members of NAIFA could have based on the relationships they've established with state legislators,” she shares.
NAIFA’s advocacy affects policy and legislation at the local, state, and national levels. At the state level, says Snively, Florida’s extensive coastline makes it a unique state for property and casualty insurance and adverse legislation can threaten the viability and continuation of property and casualty agents’ business in the state.
Federal advocacy is also critical, says Snively. “You can't just only focus on statewide efforts in advocacy. You really have to think holistically about the bigger picture, which is the federal issues that we have as well,” she begins. “Sometimes people feel like they're so far away [and think], ‘How could that possibly impact my business?’ But they absolutely can.”
To those interested in getting politically involved, Snively recommends starting by meeting their local representatives, then continuing by attending their state Legislative Day on the Hill and NAIFA’s Annual Congressional Conference in Washington, D.C. “Those are both great opportunities to understand the process and see how it all works," she says.
The Benefits of NAIFA
Being an active member of NAIFA has given Snively a competitive edge, says Snively, and she learns something new every time she joins a webinar or goes to a conference. “There's always continuing education to keep my tools sharp so that I can be on top of it and add value to the products and services we offer, as well as add value to my customers to be that knowledgeable, trusted advisor that can make recommendations based on their situation."
A Past President of NAIFA-Tampa, Snively has served in several leadership positions, including as NAIFA-FL IFAPAC Committee Chair and on NAIFA’s National Grassroots Involvement Committee. She is a Financial Security Advocate, a graduate of NAIFA’s Leadership in Life Institute, and a winner of NAIFA’s Quality Award.
Outside of the Office
When she’s not working, Snively stays involved in her community. She’s served on the board of several organizations, including eight years with the Hillsborough County school board. She also volunteers with organizations her children are involved in, including marching band and the Boy Scouts of America.
Snively loves being outdoors and spending time with her family hiking, camping, or at the beach. She’s an avid golfer and reader and a dedicated fan of the Florida Gators.
For her service to his community and our industry and association, we’re #NAIFAproud to have Melissa Snively as a part of our NAIFA family.