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Declaration of Independents: Owen Thomas

Thomas is an insurance agent, real estate broker, mayor pro tempore and founder of a drone company. These are just a few of the ways he is serving his community. However, like many agents, he serves his clients best during their time of need.
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May_DOI_OwenThomas_600x400.pngOwen Thomas

Senior Account Executive

Dial Insurance Agency

Pembroke, North Carolina

Thomas is an insurance agent, real estate broker, mayor pro tempore and founder of a drone company. These are just a few of the ways he is serving his community. However, like many agents, he serves his clients best during their time of need.

When Hurricane Florence made landfall in North Carolina in 2018, it stalled, dropping unprecedented amounts of rainfall on unprepared towns and cities. Among them was the city of Lumberton—which was still recovering from the impact of Hurricane Matthew two years prior. With water levels surpassing 6 feet, Thomas' natural reaction was to ride into the flooded area with the fire department on a small boat to check on his community.

“I just wanted to make sure people knew that I was there for them," he says. “Thinking about how high the water was makes my skin crawl."

Preparing for hurricane season?

The agency gets the word out on all our social media, making sure that everybody has access to all the information they need, such as the company phone numbers. Then we make ourselves readily available to our clients. All my clients have my cell phone number. I tell them that I'm a 24/7 guy and they can reach me anytime.

Flood insurance awareness?

We've had hurricanes that have come through our area and damaged a lot of homes. I try to educate people and let them know it's not covered by their homeowners policy and that they need to purchase a flood policy separately. Being in real estate, I've learned that a lot of lenders are now requiring it.

Getting a real estate license?

During the pandemic, I was able to do all the licensing online. It was the perfect opportunity. Insurance and real estate go hand in hand. I've won ReMax awards for sales every year. As it relates to flood insurance, one of the first questions that people ask is, “Did this house flood?"

Can you share a bit about your background?

I went to University of North Carolina Pembroke, played football there for five years and then I got into grad school. I got my Master of Business Administration degree and focused on management and marketing. From there, I took a job in sales for a publishing firm. Its main focus was relocation and membership directories, which went through the Chamber of Commerce.

Meanwhile, I became a member of the alumni association with the university. I began making relationships and one of the board members was president of Dial Insurance. He asked me if I had ever considered selling insurance. I said I'd give it a try. I was familiar with the community and had a lot of friends there, so it was kind of a breath of fresh air. It was something new and being in sales with that competitive mindset as a former athlete went hand in hand. Now I've been in insurance a decade.

How did you become mayor pro tempore?

Back in 2016, a buddy of mine ran for the U.S. Senate and was elected. I learned the election process during that time. And then the next year, folks in the community got together and supported me in a run for city council. It's one of those things where you can't do it by yourself. The right people were in my corner and brought me forward.

Now I'm mayor pro tempore on the city council where we are still dealing with hurricane relief and buyouts with FEMA from 2016. The recovery is still ongoing. As it relates to insurance, we try to push flood insurance and educate folks.

Future roles in government?

The sky's the limit. It's one of those things where you're the voice for the people. You're also the ears for the people. The biggest thing in local government is communication, listening and communicating relevant information back to the people. You're trying to provide the best quality of life for people because, at the end of the day, local government is everything that you see day to day. It's making sure you've got water, electricity, roads, fire protection and garbage collection.

Starting a drone company?

During the real estate boom, drone photography and drone videos became more relevant and important in listing a property. I was like, 'Instead of paying someone, why don't I just get a license and own a drone?' I started a drone photography and videography business. It's not only been real estate, though I've been able to take photos of roofs and tie it into an inspection. I've done events and golf courses, too. It's kind of a hobby but you can make a little money and save a little money doing it.

Will Jones is IA editor-in-chief.

Tuesday, April 30, 2024
Personal Lines
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