Springfield, MO

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A Conversation With ... Alan Humphreys

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Tell us about your company.
(It is) an exclusive agency with American Family Insurance. My agency was formed Feb. 1, 1993. (I) started in Springfield as a part-time agent, and I achieved full-time status in the summer of 1993. In 1995, I was offered the chance to come to Ozark, a sleepy little town south of Springfield that has since exploded and grown. (This is) a small agency … with one additional person, the office manager. We’re getting ready to add two additional agents – customer service representatives. We’re a full-line agency, and we sell auto, home, business, health and life insurance and many specialty products.  

What’s your professional background?
I’ve got some varied things in my background. I moved to Springfield in 1971 as a college student at Missouri State University. I joined the local media and worked at KWTO and KTTS as a radio announcer. (In) 1977, I completely switched gears and became a railroad locomotive engineer with Frisco Railroad. That was not the career choice that I wanted. ... After my son was born, I decided I wanted to be an at-home dad – at home every night. So I went back to college and got my degree in education. I really enjoyed teaching school, and I found that my really true love was working with the parents of the kids.

What drew you to working with insurance and American Family?
I had an opportunity with American Family to work directly with young couples and all ages of people, and all of that combined into wanting to be an entrepreneur and develop my own agency. The exciting part is that I still insure some of the families of the kids I taught. And, the children I taught in school are now adults buying homes, and raising families, and I’m still connecting with (them).

What challenges do you face as an insurance agent?
In today’s world, people are constantly talking about one thing with policies, and that’s price. What I really feel is necessary as a professional agent is to make sure that customers are covered correctly, not necessarily focusing on the cheapest price, but (working) with the client to make sure they have enough coverage. … Many times, people don’t have a policy that will replace their home in the event of a natural loss, like a fire or a tornado. We review our policies with clients to make sure we can rebuild their homes or recover their losses in the event of a tragedy.

How often should insurance policies be reviewed?
All customers of the insurance business need to review their policies every year. They should be looking for any kind of change in status of employment or needs, like for life insurance. Maybe they were employed somewhere where they lost their life insurance or health insurance. Agents like to find out where we need to fill in the gaps. I’ve had a lot of people who, in the past have lost their jobs and their health insurance and have come to us for a temporary health plan to bridge between one job to the next.

How has the economy affected your business?
If you take a look at the building permits in Christian County, they’ve (declined) in the last two or three years. As new homes are not being built, we have fewer homes that we could potentially insure. A big market in this area has been insuring people moving to our county and buying new homes. We have noticed that people are tending to stay where they’re at or maybe make a lateral move by buying a home that they can pick up at a reduced price. They’re not buying as many boats, motorcycles (or) new cars. We’re seeing people being more conservative.

You have been recognized by J.D. Power and Associates with the Distinguished Insurance Agency Program honor, recognizing customer satisfaction, for five of the last six years. How are honorees chosen, and what’s your approach to customer care?
J.D. Power and American Family worked together to set up guidelines for what it takes to qualify. We send out surveys and our customers rate us (on) many different areas. … The award is actually given to us by J.D. Power and our customers, and that’s a really good feeling. Our philosophy on customer service is that … if a customer needs something, you provide what they need. We’ve got to be better at customer service than any online company there is. We have to provide better expertise, better customer service and better claims service.

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