Young Agent Spotlight: Sara Raue at Holub Insurance

How did you get into insurance?

I graduated from college with a degree in environmental science. For a couple years, I worked as a teaching assistant at a local school. I enjoyed the work as a TA; however, my schedule followed the school calendar, leaving summers available. In turn, I took a job at Transamerica as a CSR where I helped agents as they quoted business.

I learned some great lessons during my time at Transamerica. In particular, I learned how to provide great customer service in spite of potentially challenging circumstances. For instance, people would sometimes be upset when they called, so I learned how to deescalate situations.

Eventually, I decided that I wanted to work on the agency side. I reached out to Ben Holub, the principal of my current agency. He was running his family-owned agency and had recently purchased another local agency. He was open to me helping. I joined Holub and have been working here for over five years.

We are a small-town agency, based in rural Iowa. We provide personal and commercial lines as well as farm and crop coverage. Most of our business is built organically through referrals of current clients.

Can you speak about servicing the farm community?

When providing farm and crop insurance, it is important to be able to talk like a farmer. You need to know how their farm is operated and understand the different pieces of equipment as well as how to provide an insurance policy that covers their farming operations entirely. When a claim happens, and there are gaps in insurance, you will quickly lose a farmer.

Crop insurance is changing quickly. Insurers are offering more technology, especially for report automation from the farm to the carrier. Technology can make life a lot easier, but adopting these new processes can be a sticking point for some clients. The newer farmers are more apt to accept it, but the farms that have operated for generations can have the mentality of, “If it isn’t broken, don’t fix it.”

Our insurer partners will visit our offices and train us on the new technology. We will then visit and train our clients. Sometimes there are bugs when a new capability is launched. Overall, the technology is improving and is helping to ensure that the farm, agency, and insurer are all working from the same set of numbers.

What makes a great carrier partnership?

I work a lot with county mutual insurers. These companies are great. They work hard to communicate with their independent distributors and provide phenomenal service in the event of a claim. In my view, they care deeply about their customers.

I try to build close relationships with my insurer partners. We will meet for lunch frequently, where we talk about recent business as well as get to know each other personally. These folks have my personal cell phone number, and we communicate beyond standard business hours. This allows me to be more responsive to my clients’ needs as well as be timely when the carrier needs additional information.

What would be your advice to new agents?

A good producer can relate to their client and should work to get to know them deeply. Knowing your client is important because it helps you understand their assets and risks and tailor their insurance coverage accordingly.

There are a lot of clients to keep up with—so make sure to take notes! Jotting down what is happening in each person’s life and storing it along with our client information in our AMS helps to keep the whole agency informed.

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