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Springfield, MO

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A Conversation With … Frank Orellana

Frank Orellana Agency-State Farm

Posted online

How many clients do you serve and what are your areas of focus?
In Missouri, State Farm insures one in every four cars and homes. We’re the largest home and private passenger auto and homeowners insurance provider in the state. Traditionally, we’ve been known for auto and homeowners insurance, but we have over 100 products that we offer.

State Farm announced last month it planned to reduce auto insurance rates for Missouri drivers. What’s been the effect for your customers?
Today [July 9] is when they go into effect, so we haven’t necessarily seen how it’s affected the customers yet. It’s going to be different for everybody. It’s a general overall 3 percent [discount] that was announced, but depending on the coverage they have, that’s going to change. Overall, it’s always a good thing. Cost savings and claim experience are some of the big factors in rate fluctuation. 

The internet disrupts many industries. How does technology affect your business model?
I’ve been an agent for 17 years, so back in 2001 you didn’t do your personal, auto or homeowners insurance online. It was a tool to help maybe do some research. Now, we’ve got a whole generation of customers that many of them choose to do their business online. The website we have, customers can create an online account and do most of their business online, if they choose. Every customer is assigned to an agent, so if you have that kitchen fire at 2 in the morning, it’s helpful. A lot of customers only want to do the internet, and that’s fine. We’re there if they want personal service.

How does State Farm’s jingle “like a good neighbor” play out in the day to day?
When you take this job, one of the things that you have to be prepared for is it’s not something you leave at 5 p.m. Friday and take off for the weekend. My cellphone is on my business cards. You get that call in the middle of the night; there was a vehicle accident, it was tragic. There was a house fire and they’re trying to figure out what to do, and you drive to a customer’s house. A couple years ago, we had some heavy rains and a lot of flooding. They’ll call you and you go out there and bring a sump pump and a garden hose, and you try to help them with the water that’s flooding into their basement. I enjoy that part of it. It builds that relationship. You’re not just a bill that’s due every month or every six months.

What are the trends in the industry?
It sounds cliche, but technology is really such a huge thing for insurance right now. We have our own app that you can have your ID cards on your phone. We have another app that can help you save on your auto insurance. State Farm corporate has established working on a fleet of drones. So for example, a situation like Joplin occurred, some places aren’t accessible. You can send a fleet of drones up to access damage, use that as another tool to help customers out. With the technology in vehicles, some of the stuff is fantastic: lane departure, accident avoidance, the next generation of air bags – they’re wonderful tools. The flip side of that is there is a lot of entertainment that cause distractions in the vehicles. And if you rear-end somebody and mess up your bumper, it’s not usually a bumper anymore to replace. There’s sensors in the bumpers, there’s cameras a lot of times. So there’s pros and cons. Overall, it’s here to stay, so you’ve got to embrace it and prepare for it.

Frank Orellana can be reached at frank@frankorellana.com.

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