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Clear goals fill the future at All Risk Agency

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by Jan K. Allen

SBJ Contributing Writer

The All Risk Agency insurance company opened for business in the Spring Valley Shopping Center on East Seminole in 1978. In 1997, owner Jim Greenstreet retired and sold the agency to Darren Hoelcher.

Hoelcher said the company will stay at the Seminole location until growing pains eventually push the business into a larger facility.

Hoelcher decided early in life that he wanted a career in insurance. A life-long Springfield resident, he graduated from Kickapoo High School and soon after attended A.D. Banker Insurance School in Kansas City.

After a year and a half of schooling and training, he received his agent's and broker's licenses and went to work for American Family Insurance Company in Springfield.

In 1996 Hoelcher struck out on his own, opening a small independent agency until the All Risk opportunity came up in '97.

It was then he and his wife Holly, also an agent, took on the established company and continued to build on what Greenstreet had started. Holly Hoelcher works full-time in the office, sharing the present workload and the future dreams.

Although Darren Hoelcher still sells some commercial insurance packages himself, his daily routine at All Risk is now more focused on management.

The office has seven employees, including the husband-and-wife team, other agents and support staff. Most of them have been with the company on a long-term basis and were employed before Hoelcher took over, he said.

The All Risk goal is that no one who needs coverage be refused coverage and that rates are competitive, given the individual circumstances, Hoelcher stated.

"It's extremely crucial to shop for rates when a person is high-risk for auto insurance," he said.

All Risk represents 32 insurance carriers for everything from workers' compensation, general liability and retirement funds for business clients, to auto, homeowners and life insurance for individuals.

The emphasis is on service and customer satisfaction.

"I enjoy getting to know the people we serve and meeting them in the grocery store with their families," Hoelcher said.

The agency also sells uncommon coverages, such as liability for special events. The most unusual policy Hoelcher can remember was a short-term policy for the minor league football tryouts held here in 1998.

The three-day policy was issued to cover liability against injury for players during tryouts and practice.

Hoelcher prides himself in knowing the policies he sells down to the fine print. Taught early in his career to study the clauses carefully, he has continued the habit with each carrier he represents.

He usually knows within three or four companies where to go with a client's specific needs.

To make sure the rate is the lowest available, he will run the auto-insurance client's personal history through the Agency Management Service, or AMS, computer database and the system will quote rates for policies from eight to 10 companies, ranked by price.

For homeowners and commercial coverages, a little more research is involved because the circumstances vary greatly, Hoelcher said. "Every case is different."

On average, All Risk handles from 200 to 250 applications per month. The annual gross income for the agency runs between $3 million and $3.5 million, according to Hoelcher.

Except for two outside agents, who are paid by commission, everyone in-house is on salary. This way customers are serviced immediately, no matter who wrote the policy, Hoelcher said.

Eventually, he hopes to add a claims-service division so clients can receive compensation immediately when they have a loss, but this dream is down the road while other, more pressing plans crowd the agenda.

In October of this year, Hoelcher plans to add financial services to the line of products All Risk offers. Once the service is in place, theoretically a client could get his car loan and insurance in one stop. Or the homeowner could apply for his mortgage and his homeowners coverage at the same location.

Hoelcher has already allocated space for this addition at the Spring Valley offices.

Within five years, Hoelcher said, he hopes to have plans for a new, freestanding structure to house the company and the various services he wants to provide.

Within the next 10 years, he said, he envisions an in-house underwriting service, which will make the application process easier and faster for many clients.

The agency does about 80 percent of its communications with the carriers it represents by computer, although 90 percent of the applications are still written by hand.

The office keeps records in both hard copy and in the database, which is backed up daily.

Further expansion plans are in the works soon after the addition of the financial services.

In April 2000, All Risk plans to add a satellite office on the north side of Springfield to serve people on that side of town and those driving from Bolivar, Willard and other towns north of the city. By April 2001, there will be another office in place to serve Branson area clients, Hoelcher said.

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