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  • Joe Nelson

The Road To RECOVERY or Where the heck your agent has been for 3 months.

Updated: Mar 9, 2022


February 23, 2022 - Joe Nelson, Agency Principal


I have been missing in action for several months, and I wanted to apologize to all of my current, past, and future clients. We don't get to choose some of the circumstances or things that happen to us in our life and what happened to me is not something I would wish on anyone.

On the most average evening in November, I was driving westbound on US Hwy-98 in Navarre, little daughter asleep in the backseat, talking to my wife on my hands free device when suddenly...

Two and a quarter tons of steel, operated by an intoxicated driver, made an illegal left hand turn without yielding and struck my vehicle nearly head on. Both vehicles were suddenly jolted to a stop before the vehicle following behind me collided with us both, sending the drunk driver down the street and my vehicle into a ditch.

Knocked immediately unconscious, I was oblivious to the screams asking what happened by my wife as she listened in powerless and in horror and the skidding, crunching, and noises that accompanied by the impacts.

The next moments are fuzzy. Consistently in an out of consciousness and not coherent of the world around me. Vague memories of lots of light and sound, a ton of pain, either my brain synapses firing randomly from the trauma or severe pain occasionally pulling me from being unconscious back to consciousness. Something on my head to protect from shards of metal and glass flying as EMS works to cut me out of the vehicle. Being tugged out and strapped to a board, being in the back of an ambulance and my mom being there holding my daughter. Having her tell me that I'm seriously injured and they know both my arms are broken. Being wheeled around the hospital and put into narrow tubes to scan my head, brain, check, back, arms, legs, and more.

I am not sure at that time I knew I was in the hospital but I didn't know more than that. Everything hurt. I wasn't comfortable but I couldn't move. Pain was my constant companion. After being born, I had never had to stay overnight in a hospital.

I slept when they put heavy doses of pain killers through the line that was in my right foot. Awaking in pain, pushing a button, a nurse came in with relief and I slept until the pain returned. I met my surgeon who said he needed to surgically repair both my arms so the bones would heal right. First hospital visit, first surgery. They wheeled me back to the operating room.


The next day began the routine for the next several weeks. With casts up to my elbows and severe contusions I was as helpless as a baby for nearly everything. After a few days the scenery changed from the ICU to a rehab hospital in Pensacola.

I'd wake up, eat, go to physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy. Eat lunch, more therapy. Have dinner and go to bed. Thanksgiving came and went. Day after day it was much of the same. I had some fantastic therapists, and I worked hard at trying to do as much as I could as quickly as I could. Therapy had some set goals and I achieved them so I was discharged early.


What happened next was a blur. I've said many times that the best quality an agent can have is excellent memory and recall. The accident left me with two fractured arms, and a concussion. I had phone calls with many customers I have no recollection of. My desire to help outweighed my abilities and I agreed to do things I couldn't finish.

The agency was a ship sailing without anyone to captain it...


Before the accident I was working 14 hour days, going at 110% of what I am capable of, and falling behind. I preached excellent customer service and failed to deliver it time and time again.

My processes were awful, and it made my ability to follow through terrible. Looking back, I was a crappy agent much of the time. I knew a lot about insurance, sold good policies, educated customers, and dropped the ball on handling policies, billing, and follow up.

Being out for awhile has changed my perspective. A couple weeks before the accident I attended a conference exclusively for agency owners. There were hundreds of us, and I got to sit down and have candid conversations with people about my situation and how to fix it. I started working on a plan, and then 4500lbs of weaponized steel derailed my plans.


I am not fully healed, but the accident has forced me to slow down and really focus on things. I am still dealing with the side effects of the accident, and I will have some physical limitations for the rest of my life.


You will see a big difference in how things have been and how they will be. I am working hard to catch up from 3 months of being out.

As it stand as I type this I have 1515 unread emails, and 321 voicemails.

Recovery is a process, and I will have up days and down days. I will have follow up doctors appointments, possible surgeries, and have to balance my work schedule with my physical and occupational therapy appointments.

I need to acknowledge that I am not nearly as fast as I used to be. My ability to type has been limited. Screens can cause me migraines. I need much more rest than before.

Because I can't be as fast, I will have to be more efficient.




  1. I vow to live up to the promises between agent and customer.

  2. I will concentrate on service, prioritizing my existing customers over everything else.

  3. When not working on accounts, I will refine my processes allowing for workflows I can follow so items are not dropped.

  4. I will be active with one of my priorities, engaging and educating my customers about insurance, insurance fraud, risk, and more.

My Agency Goals for 2022

  1. Hire 1 or more staff members by the end of Q2 2022.

  2. Offer a phone app with client portal by the end of 2022.

  3. Be proactive about all renewals. Shopping or looking for additional discounts.

  4. Identify new carriers and offer to shop other lines of business to help my customers mitigate rate increases.

  5. Add 300 new policies by the end of the year.

Injury in general teaches you to appreciate every moment... It's humbling. It gives you perspective. No matter how many times I've been hurt, I've learned from that injury and come back even more humble. - Troy Polamalu (HOF Safety - Pittsburgh Steelers)

As so many of you have given me far more grace and patience than I deserve I feel like I am unworthy of asking for more but... I beg that you give me just a little more.

As I heal from the arm injuries I won't have mastered how long it takes me to type or complete a task. As I return from my brain injury I won't be as fast, smart, or have the ability to remember as well as I could. Just be patient and I promise to deliver on my promises and I'll be the agent you deserve.

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