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Pam Hogin - Napa Valley Insurance

Pam Hogin - Napa Valley Insurance

My father worked in the industry as a regulator for the Department of Insurance, a Sr VP for an Insurance Carrier, and retired as a Lobbyist for the Nebraska Insurance Federation.  I came home from high school one day and he told me I had a new job to start at Nebraska Mutual Insurance/General Agency.  I started with filing customer documents and one day the owner brought in a stack of High Risk Auto Policies that needed to be renewed.  He tossed me a Rate Card (paper of course) and told me to have them done by the end of the day. Baptism by fire.  Had to figure out the crazy rate card that was about 2 feet long when unfolded with all rates, surcharges, discounts, etc.   

Shout out to your husband Mike; we love Mike Hogin. But tell us the truth, do you love working with your husband, or does it drive you crazy?
Both!  It is great to own a business with your spouse so you can work on the business together through the easy and tough times, but some days working with your husband makes you nuts!  It helps to have two office locations – ha!!

2020 is on track to be one of the most destructive years of wildfire in recent history. Napa Valley Insurance has endured significant wildfires over the last few years. What have you learned running an agency through multiple catastrophes? 
I have learned that our communities are resilient.   I have also learned we have the best group of employees who are also very resilient!  These situations can be draining on all of us when we have customers that have lost everything, but we realize that we are thankful that we ourselves haven’t experienced the devastation personally.   We have had employees who have been evacuated and had family members lose everything they own, but they power through and keep everything on track.

We have also learned about coverages that clients never felt were important until after the claim.  It has been a good lesson to help educate our clients on things that can happen they would have never thought about.

What is your favorite place to escape to when you’re not working?
Pre -COVID I do love to travel with family, Disneyland with my daughter and nieces. During COVID – Home to unwind.   We have two dogs that provide us entertainment and positivity so love to be around them.

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You successfully acquired an agency a few years ago. Do you have any advice for agencies looking for purchase agencies? How do they compete with private equity firms?
I think the first thing to realize is that not all agency acquisition options will fit your needs or culture. Realize it and move on to the next one.  If you find yourself making excuses or downplaying things will be counter to how you run a business – run away!!  Also, if a deal doesn’t work, it wasn’t meant to be.

My feeling about competing with Private Equity Firms is that we can offer stability for employees, locations, and clients. That right there equals customer retention, which is what make the deal work.   I also think those folks selling their agencies looks at a high purchase price and may not realize that number is not the real number. The Private Equity Firms have earn outs, retention requirements which can be tough to meet when they move Personal Lines Departments to a Centralized location, let employees go, etc.  Customers will know and they will move their business.    I have seen situations where the final payout was much less than advertised.  

We can offer a fair and stable offer and work with the needs and requirements of the seller.  Private Equity Firms have their model with little room for negotiation.

Will you talk a little about your relationship with PIIB?
We love PIIB!  Assistance with Market Access and Profit Share stability are the most important services provided to our agency. PIIB as a cluster is frankly the only one to join if an agency is thinking about making that decision.  Educational opportunities, vendor programs, and a large group of members to learn from make PIIB a great decision.

We finish the interview and you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that gets you $10M, what do you do?
What I would think I would do and what I would likely do are different.  I would dream of putting the “for sale” sign on the agency, give the employees a nice “thank you” payout and we can all retire together. There are many of us that have worked together for almost 30 years so we joke about our pact to retire together. I think I would still work as I don’t think I could stop.   Now if that lottery ticket was $100 million, good bye insurance industry. You have been great to me, but Mother Nature and a Pandemic have worn me out 😊

Napa Valley Insurance


 

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