How did you get started at your agency?
I met my husband, Butch Human, when he retired and moved back to North Carolina. He had owned a horse insurance agency that was based in Texas for many years. We decided to open Star H Equine Insurance in May 2004 when we got married. I started out working part-time while I continued with my long-time career in radio advertising sales. Insurance eventually became my full-time career.
Why equine insurance?
We both are horse enthusiasts, going back to our love of horses as children. We have both shown horses and owned horses our whole lives. It was a natural fit. When your passion is horses, you don't mind talking to people about horses every day and helping them navigate insurance specific to their needs.
Equine insurance is a niche market and has its own needs and language. As large companies have bought smaller agribusiness companies, the emphasis on the customer specific to equine business has become more mainstream. We are lucky to have great agribusiness divisions at the companies that we work with. They work with us when we have unique equine needs. They listen and we can work through situations to make the insurance work.
Challenges in equine?
“Square peg in round hole underwriting." The horse business is not an easy business to make a profit. Often, farms want to add activities that aren't “round peg" agribusiness exposures, and that makes for a tough time trying to find a company to write them. Some agribusiness divisions are okay with agritourism, some are okay with weddings and some don't mind Airbnb exposure. Many times it's hard to find a company that likes the other non-agriculture exposures on the farm. We have to help the client understand what the company would be okay with while allowing the client to make ends meet.
Future of equine?
More and more people understand the huge value in a horse used for therapy. My horses certainly are my therapy at the end of the day! Many folks that have been around horses for years and have the horse knowledge want to start a therapeutic program without any certifications—such as PATH Intl (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International) or EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning Association). Without these certifications, you can't find coverage for them.
Advice for a fellow agent?
Know the horse business. Don't try to fake it. Horse people can smell a fake a mile away! I know nothing about airplanes, so I would never try to get into that sector of insurance.
Favorite success story?
I feel like I have success every time I help someone navigate and better understand their insurance needs, and cover their specific exposures.
AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor.