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From the Front Lines: Homeowners

"As a country, we're shifting toward buying products online," says independent agent Lou Martinez. "You don't see people go into locations anymore, like how my parents still go through their insurance process."
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From the Front Lines: HomeownersLou Martinez


Insurance Guru

Denver, Colorado

How did you get started at your agency? 

I was in the insurance industry already, working for another company, and I was laid off as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. I took that as, “Okay, I need to figure something out that I can have a little bit more control over and am able to move with whatever change is coming in the world." I took a few weeks, sat down, thought it through, and I decided I really love insurance, but I wanted to pursue it on my own terms.

Why did you get into homeowners insurance? 

I have kind of a soft spot for homeowners and the real estate industry. I had previous experience working with a buddy doing sales and contract work over the years, and I wanted to focus on that because I like helping people. I like the success stories from someone who was able to qualify and buy their first home, or refinance at a great rate, and I want to make sure they're able to protect the value they just purchased.

Biggest changes in homeowners insurance? 

As a country, we're shifting toward buying products online. You don't see people go into locations anymore, like how my parents still go through their insurance process. Now, homeowners are more technology-based and online-savvy. They have access to more information and they want to be more educated—they're looking for those resources.

And that's the exact client I want: “Why do I need this? Why should I buy this?" Then I get to step into the role of educator and bridge the gap between this being just another online purchase and a great customer experience.

Biggest challenges?

Educating homeowners that they shouldn't skimp on their home insurance. They refinanced at this great rate, or they purchased this new home that's literally thousands and thousands of dollars—and then when it comes to insurance, I find a lot of clients are trying to get it as cheaply as possible by getting rid of some coverages. That's an opportunity to educate the client by saying, “Hey, you just put thousands of dollars into this house. Things can happen. Let's make sure that's covered."

And in Colorado specifically, you have to have the proper coverage for that beautiful home because we get those good old-fashioned crazy hailstorms that can wipe out your roof. A lot of people who are new to Colorado may not understand this until they experience it, so you have to put it in perspective for them. 

Future trends? 

With people purchasing homes in my area, specifically Denver, the trend seems to be to purchase for the sake of renting it out, putting it on Airbnb, or some other way to use that house for income. Additionally, I'm seeing more and more clients wanting to go the online shopping route for ease and convenience. If they can't purchase from you today, they'll go somewhere else where they can.

Advice for a fellow agent regarding homeowners? 

We have great online platforms that are free to use—social media, email, text, whatever. But I feel we forget that the ultimate marketing tool is really handshakes and smiles. If you look someone in the eye and connect with them, it sticks with them more than just reading another email.

Also, something I learned from a prior business owner in another industry: Don't be afraid to set boundaries. We have access to laptops, phones, rating systems 24/7. But whenever we set those boundaries of keeping our normal business hours, we avoid interrupting family time or recharging time.

Favorite success story?

Someone I know through my time in real estate messaged me on social media. It started off as a basic conversation—how's it going, how are the kids? A couple days later, he reached out and asked for information on insurance for his townhome. I said I'd be happy to help and dug a little deeper, and it turned out he was pretty frantic because he realized he had the wrong policy on his house and it wasn't covered like it was supposed to be. 

That same day, we got everything set up and taken care of with the right type of policy. He walked away with that huge stressor dealt with, a little more educated on what he actually needed, and a lot more peace of mind.

AnneMarie McPherson is IA news editor. 

Wednesday, October 27, 2021