ANGOLA — An almost career insurance provider with Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, Beth Groves has opened a stand-alone agency where, although it is still affiliated with the parent company, she is on her own.
In Steuben County, Groves is the first and the only one insurance agency owner affiliated with the main office.
“I’ve been with Farm Bureau for, this year it’s 22 years,” Groves said.
In July this year she was approved for a new Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance program that was designed to expand the agents’ network throughout the state based on the number of the population in the communities.
“We could potentially open an additional agency,” Groves said. “Angola met that credit criteria.”
Groves applied for the program. She said that when you’re an entrepreneur, “you just see things a little differently than working for a large company.”
Groves then prepared a 13-page long business plan focusing on continued excellence in service and a great location for her independent agency that she presented to the parent company, and the plan was approved.
“We went through, looked at all of the numbers and we decided that it would support an additional agency,” Groves said.
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance is an insurance company that provides home, farm, health, commercial, life and other insurance plans. Unlike many other insurance agencies Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance is an Indiana-based entity.
“There are Farm Bureau’s in every state, nearly every state, but we are each independently operated,” Groves said.
The advantage of being independently operated in every state is that claims in other states, such as Florida or California, do not affect the bottom line of Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, unlike in national insurance companies where what happens in one state affects the bottom lines in others.
When Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance decided to expand it opted for a program that encourages the agents in certain communities to open their own agencies with the support from the parent company.
Independent captive agents allow the parent company to expand its operations at lower costs as independent agents are responsible for rent, utilities and staff. Groves currently has two employees — agent Mike Nahrwold and office manager Monica Houser.
Groves’ own benefits include a different reward scale and the joys of managing her own business. In addition, her targeted advertising budget works on her herself only now, whereas before when she worked in the company’s office with other agents, although she still paid for the advertising as independent contractor, walk-in clients were distributed among the agents on the next in line basis.
The benefit for the community of having independent captive agents is that they manage their business differently in small communities in comparison with larger companies that have outlets in both small and large communities and have to manage them accordingly.
“We have the beauty of being a captive agent with an independent agent in house,” Groves said.
Groves still receives assistance from the main office that reviews her policy decisions and provides support. In case the customer wants to deal with another insurance company Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance has a broker company it works with to refer clients to other insurance companies.
Groves attributes her career success to her the supervisor she started to work with in her early 20s — Paul Stepp, who is now retired from the insurance business. Stepp was an amazing mentor, who encouraged her to continue to grow, she said.
Groves has always lived in Indiana. She was born in Fort Wayne and moved to the Angola area when she was in middle school, and she went to Prairie Heights. She and her husband, Shane, have six children between the two of them.
“We have a crazy blended family,” Groves said.