Christine Larson took her family's agency from one to three locations and is now focused on growing further. "I'm enjoying the freedom of growing Empire independently," she says.
President & CEO
Empire Insurance Group, Inc.
North Branch, Minnesota
Larson began her career at her father's Allstate agency. When the Great Recession of 2008 hit and rates increased, it became difficult to offer competitive rates without sacrificing coverages, leading the family to establish Empire Insurance Group in 2009. She hit the ground running to take the agency from one to three locations. In 2014, Larson was named the Minnesota Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers Association's Emerging Leader and currently serves on their Board of Directors.
About Your Role?
My niche is commercial lines with a focus on contractors, consultants, transportation, retail and manufacturing. I enjoy helping business owners customize a plan that protects their livelihood. As an owner myself, I take pride in that. Additionally, I am focused on ensuring my team is providing the same quality that I would provide myself and as the industry changes—keeping us cutting edge!
Being a Top Workplace?
This is our third consecutive year as a Business Insurance Top Workplace; we're so proud of that. The honor considers factors from benefits to employee satisfaction. It is important to stay competitive and create a great team environment. Especially now, larger agencies are buying out smaller ones and offering large group plans, and we're competing against that. We've got that small-town feel with big-city benefits.
Benefits of Being “Truly Independent?"
I'm enjoying the freedom of growing Empire independently. The main benefit is having a direct relationship with our carriers. I've experienced being part of a cluster in the past and have found it refreshing to have more independence. Advantages include increased data security, contractual freedom, and faster implementation of technology and services
As clusters are on the rise, I do think it is important from an industry perspective to drill down on the securities and processes for both the sub-agents and the groups to ensure there are no gray areas contractually between the agent-carrier-customer relationship and to ensure security and trust is always held at the highest of all standards. Every cluster is different. They can be extremely beneficial and collaborative—but to be successful there must be real growth & incentive plans established by the cluster.
Basing Business on Referrals?
Our success is based solely on referrals and because of this, we don't do a lot of mailings. The focus is on ensuring that our customers are happy. When you have satisfied customers, they're telling their family and friends so they too can be protected—without overpaying. From there, it just kind of keeps compounding.
Good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster. Referrals hold us accountable 100% of the time. If you focus on your customers, then the business will come. Referrals are the best compliment someone could receive in the business.
PHOTO BY DAN MERSON