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From the Front Lines: Personal Auto

"A fender bender is no longer minor and can cost thousands of dollars to repair," says independent agent Josh Farm. "What's interesting is auto insurance premiums have overall stayed steady—we will see if that continues!"
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From the Front Lines: Personal AutoJosh Farm

Agent

House of Insurance Agency, Inc.

Montgomery, Minnesota

How did you get started at your agency? 

In my last college semester, I completed an internship with the House of Insurance Agency. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do after I graduated so the agency owners connected me with an insurance company where I was hired as an underwriter. After two and a half years working as an underwriter, I decided to make the jump back to the agency side and haven't looked back since.

Why personal auto? 

Most of my time as an underwriter was spent on auto and home insurance. When I came back to the agency, I felt most confident explaining and presenting auto insurance to clients.

Biggest industry changes?

The biggest change I have noticed is the change in the cost of claims in recent years. We have seen a significant increase in the cost of vehicle repairs. With newer vehicles, there are a lot more safety features and technology. A fender bender is no longer minor and can be thousands of dollars to repair. What's interesting is auto insurance premiums have overall stayed steady—we will see if that continues!

Biggest challenges?

Reaching a younger clientele is the biggest challenge right now. My generation wants instant gratification and would rather not pick up a phone to contact an agency or agent for quotes. I still feel conversations are necessary between insureds and agents. Insurance is not as easy as clicking a button. Getting younger clients to realize the importance of the service and expertise independent agents provide is a challenge that we will continue to face.

Future trends in the personal auto market? 

Insurance companies utilizing more technology. Most insurance companies have an app or online client portal where they have instant access to their policies, claim status and billing. Some even allow the client to make their own changes to the policy. This trend is going to continue and there will be less human contact, but I don't think that is for the best.

Advice for a fellow agent?

My agency owner is always telling our agents and service reps: “If we continue to do what's right for people, we will be successful." Very simple, but the best thing you can do is be honest and straightforward with clients. The majority of our referrals come from current clients that enjoy working with us, and our agency focus is and always has been based on service.

Favorite success story?

I believe personal service still matters. Whether it's explaining coverages, helping with a claim or just getting to know your clients, it's nice to be able to have an agent to turn to. A lot of the clients I first wrote a policy for are still with me today—and the bigger compliment is that I continue to receive referrals from these clients. 

Olivia Overman is IA content editor.