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Our businesses: Town and Country Insurance

Continuing to serve you

What is the full name of your business?

Town & Country Insurance

Where is it located?

Based in Webster City, with offices in Fort Dodge, Humboldt, Eagle Grove, Clarion, Jewell and Story City.

When was it founded? 1984

Who are the key leaders?

Doug Follman, agency manager; Bennett O’Connor, personal insurance and technology manager; Laura Schiek, customer service manager; Beth Ades, operations manager; Reta Youngdale, accounting and compliance manager; Mary Struchen, operations.

How many people does it employ? 50

What services and products do you provide?

Town & Country Insurance has six divisions, each with its own manager: commercial insurance (Justin Malloy), farm insurance (Scott Oswald), crop insurance (Justin Davis), personal insurance (Bennett O’Connor and Staci Schnittjer), life insurance (Tim Anderson), and health insurance (Angie Youngdale). We have agents who specialize in each of these policy types. Town & Country Insurance represents over 30 highly rated regional and national companies. Due to our well-trained staff and wide selection of products/carriers, Town & Country Insurance has grown to be one of the largest independent insurance agencies in Iowa.

What are you doing differently to serve customers during the COVID-19 pandemic?

In order to protect the health and safety of our staff and our clients, we have temporarily closed the lobbies in each of our seven office locations. However, our staff are all still working fulltime to take care of the insurance needs of our clients with emails and phone conversations. Most are working from home, but we also have a small staff working in each of our offices daily. We have provided face masks to each of our employees along with hand sanitizer throughout our offices. We have now equipped our reception desks and some of our individual offices with plexiglass dividers to provide some separation between our customers and staff when we do reopen our offices. We are using our Facebook account and our website to keep customers updated in real time. We have also contracted with the CSR24 Service Center which provides our clients with emergency claims service afterhours and on weekends.

What is the biggest challenge your business has overcome recently?

When we anticipated early on with COVID-19 that we’d soon need to make the decision to ask staff to work remotely, we easily recognized that the six ipads that we had available at that time were not going to be adequate for a staff of 50. So Bennett O’Connor, our agency’s technology manager, went to work buying up any additional ipads that he could locate while Beth Ades and Laura Schiek started to develop a plan to deploy some of our existing desktop computers to staff homes for use as Virtual Private Network (VPN) computers that could connect to our agency network.

Due to the quick work of these three individuals, who, along with Agency Manager Doug Follman, make up the agency’s disaster recovery/business continuity team, we quickly had over 40 staff members who could effectively work from home.

We are well positioned to operate Town & Country Insurance effectively with a majority of our staff working remotely for an indefinite period of time.

What is the biggest success your business has experienced recently?

We recently introduced a touch free insurance buying process that has been very successful during this period of social distancing. The insurance needs of area residents don’t go away because of the pandemic , so we’ve adjusted the insurance buying process so that it can be handled totally over the phone and electronically.

Our agents are now handling almost 100 percent of their new policy placements without ever meeting the new client face-to-face. Signatures on an application are obtained electronically. this keeps everyone safe while using the technology that we now have available.

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