Agents team up at unique Farmers Insurance office - The Star: Business

Agents team up at unique Farmers Insurance office - The Star: Business

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Agents team up at unique Farmers Insurance office

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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 7:00 am

Kelly McGrath and Matt Johnson took a leap of faith two years ago when they opened their own insurance operation in Sun Prairie. The two small businesses, the Matt Johnson Agency, LLC and McGrath Agency, LLC reside at 313 E. Linnerud Dr. and each represent Farmers Insurance Company.

Although insurance agencies usually compete against one another, Johnson and McGrath share an office and noted that despite the competitive nature they try to work together in the close-knit environment.

“We help each other out a lot,” Johnson said. “We just trade off if someone walks in.”

Their business is one of the largest specialty companies. They have four major coverage areas: Automobiles, home, commercial and life insurance, along with several other specialty products. They also represent the third largest property-casualty insurer in the country.

Although it may not be their responsibility to provide insurance for everyone in the country, they are both licensed to cover anyone in Wisconsin.

As a whole, they said they would like to be known for their one-on-one meetings, accessibility and honesty. They noted how unlike some companies, their presence in Sun Prairie allows them to be able to have face-to-face interactions with their policyholders rather than force the customer to rely on a call center when a situation arises.

Johnson said he always tries to get back to people immediately and be available for them at their convenience.

“I had a client who had some issues with billing, and I talked to him for 45 minutes,” Johnson said. “I’d like to stand out in that fashion, where I’m either going to return their call immediately or I’m going to be accessible.”

McGrath said she likes to be personal and understand what clients are going through.

“We care. That’s the bottom line and that’s why I got into this business,” McGrath said. “My husband was in a really serious accident, so I understand the process. I help people go through a life changing event. That’s really important to me.”

The importance of family to McGrath converges with her work which is highlighted by the heart-warming fact that she brings her one-year-old daughter into work almost every day.

“It’s a family oriented business,” McGrath said. “It’s not just for money, it’s for helping people and families, and that includes my family.”

They care and are accessible to their clients and the community as well. They have participated in three events with the community.

When the two agencies made the move to Sun Prairie they held an open house and invited all their clients. This past October, they participated in the business Halloween event and passed out candy to children. In addition, they participated in the recent Ladies’ Night Out event presented by the Business Improvement District (BID).

Johnson is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce in Sun Prairie. They hope to eventually have the foundation of their clientele to be based in the Sun Prairie area. By joining the Sun Prairie Chamber of Commerce, Johnson said he hopes to not only build name recognition in the area but also to become more involved in community events.

“My plan is that I’d love to be in this location as long as possible,” Johnson said.

They hope their honesty will also establish their longevity in Sun Prairie. McGrath and Johnson said that many people overlook life insurance, so they try to educate potential clients of the advantages.

“A lot of people think they’re going to live forever or that they’re invincible, and that doesn’t happen,” Johnson said.

He said families need to establish a financial plan, which will provide assistance in the event of a catastrophe.

McGrath will inform clients that one in five Americans have a chance of developing a disease in their lifetime and if this occurs in between jobs, term insurance may not provide coverage. A person could potentially become uninsurable which dictates the need for life insurance.

For people starting a family, McGrath said that many people over look a trust fund, powers of attorney for health decisions and wills.

“There’s all these things you don’t think about until you have a child because you’re putting a life in your hands,” McGrath said.

This comes in handy for families and business owners as well. In the case of a firm, if one of the partners passes away, that income for the business is gone, the agents said.

“They don’t always think of all of the puzzle,” McGrath said. “So we try to pick up all the pieces.” Their goal is to inform clients of everything and let the client make their own decision based on new attained knowledge.

A feature that is unique to Farmers is their going green aspect.

If someone is interested in signing up with Farmers Insurance, Johnson or McGrath will get the client’s email address and set-up a policy and billing statement electronically.

“This gets rid of any service fee of getting documents you need to print out,” Johnson said. “It also saves on the cost to ship paper and saves paper.”

Electronic may make is simpler to pay for bills, but the concepts of the policies are still hard for many to grasp.

“A lot of times people don’t realize what they’re buying,” McGrath said. “People don’t understand all the coverages that are on the policy, and we try our best to explain each thing.”

McGrath also pointed out that Wisconsin is one of five states that have a Wrongful Death Law. The law guarantees a victim’s family no less than $350,000 if it is determined that the driver is liable for the death. However, most individuals do not carry coverage, so the individual is responsible to cover the rest out of pocket. Johnson and McGrath pointed out that the vast majority of policies may carry the limit, but individuals opt for a lower payout to save money.

They try to educate clients about these little known laws and provide further options to escape from a crippling, catastrophic expense.

“We understand the importance of the dollar and how it affects families,” McGrath said. “We want try to explain risks versus rewards.”

Johnson and McGrath strive to become fixtures in the Sun Prairie community. They want to be known for their accessibility, honesty and involvement.

“I want people to understand what they’re purchasing instead of just buying based on the dollar amount,” Johnson said. “I feel very confident in what we offer and the insurance our clients have.”

Farmers Insurance

313 E. Linnerud Drive (in front of The Cannery Grill)

Kelly McGrath: 608-825-2204

Matt Johnson: 608-770-0007

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