Declaration of Independents: Holly Kabboord-Hemelgarn

DOI_CroppedHolly Kabboord-Hemelgarn

Producing agent and manager
Brevard Insurance & Marketing, Inc.
Cocoa Beach, Florida

When third-generation agent Holly Kabboord-Hemelgarn was asked to be part of the Florida Association of Insurance Agents’ Florida Future Insurance Leaders program, it gave her the confidence to “branch out from my dad’s shadow into being my own person,” she says.

“Now, I know more people when I go to conferences than he does,” jokes Kabboord-Hemelgarn, who received a scholarship to attend the Big “I” Legislative Conference for the first time this year.

Kabboord-Hemelgarn is so passionate about getting involved that she started her own Young Agents Committee in Brevard County when the distance to the nearest chapter in Orlando was making it difficult for local agents to participate.

“We’re going on our third year now,” she says. “Those kinds of communities are important.”

WHY?

They let you know other people are having the same problems you have. At first, I was intimidated—I was worried they might try to head-hunt me or my employees, or that they’d try to take my clients. But it’s not that way at all.

I’ve met a lot of higher-ups who’ve been in the business a long time—mentors I know I can talk to if I’m ever in a tough situation. Any kind of question, I feel like I can always pick up the phone and any of them would help me just because I’m involved.

WHY INSURANCE?

I’m DOB—daughter of the boss. I’m the third generation here. My grandfather started the agency in 1957, and my dad owns it now. He’s trying to retire, I’m trying to take over, and we’re actually training the fourth generation this summer—my niece is coming in too, and two years later her brother would like to join us as well.

I’ve been doing it since 2002. My dad asked me to come into the business because it’s his legacy, but I was very reluctant to work here. I was going to school in Orlando, and I was going to be a bartender. But my dad was like, “You can’t be a bartender for the rest of your life. Come try it out.” So I came and did personal lines for a year, and I just never left. Now, I sell, and my sister and I manage the office.

WHY PERSONAL LINES?

I’ve really changed our agency. When I first started, we were 60% commercial, 40% personal. Today, that’s flip-flopped—it’s almost 70% personal lines. We’ve put a lot of personal lines on the books in the last 17 years since I’ve been here.

FAVORITE PART?

I love the one-on-one with the client. I had a client come in yesterday and she had two houses, a boat, this and that, and asked her, “Why don’t you have an umbrella?” She was like, “What’s that?” They have no idea the protection they need.

We go through every term in the policy, because they’re buying a piece of paper. I want them to trust that that piece of paper is going to take care of them in their time of need.

WORK/LIFE BALANCE?

I’m Mom to three girls—Sophia (7), Lilly (6) and Haley (3), and I’ve been married 11 years.

WHAT SETS YOUR AGENCY APART?

People still want that personal touch. I get a lot of complaints from people like, “I talk to a different person every time I call GEICO.” That’s one thing we strive for here—we always want our clients to be able to talk to somebody. Even if there’s no electricity in the office, we’re always here after a storm, either me or my dad or my sister, to make sure that door’s open.

I always try to somehow personally get to know the client, figuring out what their interests are, do they have grandkids, do they like going on cruises—just a little something I can remember to talk to them about when they come in, because I want them to be a person instead of just a number.

You can’t get that personal touch when you’re talking to a computer. People still want to know they can call and talk to somebody in their time of need, and that it will be the same person who already understands their account.

ADVICE FOR FELLOW YOUNG AGENTS?

Get involved as much as you can. I didn’t realize how much the local association can do for us. I love the legislative aspect—I never even went to Tallahassee until I was on the FFIL board, but meeting with our local legislators is so neat to me. They listen to what we’re fighting for, and then you can actually see the progress.

And get involved in your community, too. Clients love when you’re doing things for your community. I do a PB&J drive, I do a school supplies drive, I do a canned food drive, Toys for Tots—this year, we sent all our toys up to the hurricane victims in the panhandle.

We’re located right on the beach, so a big thing around here right now is saving the turtles. All the restaurants are giving out paper straws because they’re better for the environment. But we can’t stand these paper straws! I was thinking, “What can we do to make us stand out?”

We ordered these reusable metal straws to give away to clients. They come in a little container and hook onto your keychain, and you can pull them out to use at a restaurant. That way we’re still supporting save the turtles and giving back to our community. It’s a marketing thing.

Photo by Ray Baldino