This week on Gimme Some Truth, we brought in our friend Jason Guttenberg to discuss the ins and outs of Property & Casualty Insurance. Give it a listen and be sure to subscribe so that you’re notified of new episodes!
[00:00:00] WELCOME TO GIMME SOME TRUTH. I’m Kevin Castro your podcast producer and your hosts are Clint Walkner Nate Condon and Jonathon Jordan of Walkner Condon financial advisers in Madison Wisconsin. This podcast series is dedicated to illuminating some of the darkness around conflicts of interest and motivations in the financial planning industry as well as current events Investment Concepts. Here are your hosts. [00:00:57] Welcome back to gimme some truth. Today we have a guest in the studio with us and we’re going to be talking about his area of expertise along with many kind and I have Clint Walkner and Jonathon Jordan from our firm and we’re going to dive deeper into the area of property and casualty insurance so Clint once you introduce our guest. [00:01:18] Yes. Jason Guttenberg comes to us from an independent agency that he has started himself and he’ll go through that a bit. And you know came from a more captive situation which we are going to spend some time talking about some of the nuances in there and talk a little bit through some of the good and bad about property casualty firms and things to look for and why working with somebody that’s more independent may be more beneficial to their financial situation. So Jason welcome. Thank you very much. So just to start with your news take us through your career path a little bit and how you came to being where you’re at today. [00:01:55] Sure. So I was right out of college I worked for a developer and just really realized I wanted to help people. I just had this insatiable appetite to help people and so happen to know two college friends who worked at an agency here in town. [00:02:09] And and everything went well. And then I started to really realize there were some more options so I spent 10 years at this captive agency and just started my own business a few months ago and the independent agency site it’s been fantastic. What’s been the biggest surprise so far my conversion typically was hovered around 30 percent. As a captive and now I’m closer to about 90 percent. [00:02:32] And when you say conversion you mean somebody that comes in through your doors and then writes a policy with you. [00:02:37] Yes let’s say 10 people comes to the door in a week. In the past I’d write three of those 10 and I’m ready nine out of those 10 just because I have more options more carrier options. So if each carrier let’s say wants to convert it a 10 percent conversion or a 15 percent conversion but now I have five six seven or eight of those. [00:02:55] I’ve got a much better opportunity to keep that client and give them good advice over the long haul and to find out a bit more with that pain point as well so you know these pinpoint might be price or it might be some sort of benefit or it might be something that doesn’t neatly fit into a box right. [00:03:09] That’s correct that’s usually what I see is there’s something that doesn’t fit in that box it might be a pool with a diving board or a dog or a prior claim or maybe it’s a teenager who’s got a speeding ticket or two. So all those things are going to create a different situation for for each clients. And now that I have more tools to use I can keep those clients continue to give them advice instead of telling them to just go look around and tough luck on their own. [00:03:32] I think that they’re talking about your life Jonathan. As far as all those things they got the dog onboard. [00:03:38] Know if I did I’m probably would figure out a way to get heard on it. So I like it probably a neighbor’s cat. That’s right. Got it. [00:03:47] Interesting conversation about that about all although kids that are almost driving age and that’s a different world when it comes to kind of what they look at by way of underwriting for kids that age. [00:03:57] It really is. I try and pay attention and you know advise clients. Most kids are going to get in an accident. Hope you hope it’s minor and that’s where all you can do in terms of asset protection especially for people like yourselves you’re trying to build that wall through people and a lot of times they just know they have a home insurance policy an auto insurance policy they don’t really know what they have and that’s the key is to find someone that can give you that right advice to make sure you’re protected financially. [00:04:23] What are some of the key questions that you asked somebody when you’re doing a needs analysis particularly on their home. [00:04:30] The most important thing is to actually figure out you know what is that. What does that appropriate replacement cost. And that’s always one of the fears is they might know if they’re trying to do insurance on their own. They may have bought a policy 10 years ago and they know what they paid for the house so they insured it then but they don’t really keep up on those labor costs material costs those rebuild costs for their house. So it’s nice to have someone who can go to a market for you. Make sure that they understand locally what the what the right you know rebuild cost is on maybe a person per square foot option. And there are also carriers that will give you just fine or a guaranteed replacement cost even if your policy is under insured by 50 thousand dollars to rebuild your house. You guarantee that and can rebuild it no matter what it costs. [00:05:12] What do you see is the kind of the main misconception that people have when they come and talk to you about property casualty insurance. [00:05:20] I think just with the bombardment of commercials about price price price save save save. The assumption is that it’s a commodity and everyone is selling the exact same thing. And one realistically the majority of my clients when they if they choose to buy from me they are buying me buying and improve coverage now or two or three or four. But they’ve just never been educated on some of those options and risks in their situation. [00:05:45] So I think it’s pretty clear to say that well at least in your opinion and probably everybody’s opinion here in this room is that your industry has gotten way too commodities it. It’s kind of lost the the fact is that is that a fair statement to say. [00:05:59] Yeah it’s actually made my job easier because I prefer to build a relationship with clients. So the more that I can show them value of an expert you know holding their hand making sure they have the right insurance versus the rest the industry wants to go that route. Great. There’s enough people in the area that really truly want help with their insurance and want to protect their family. So it’s actually makes my life a lot easier when I just spend time with clients and show them what I’m about and then being able to go independent I mean that that’s been a huge boon for you. [00:06:25] As you indicated your conversion ratio but also you truly can do what’s in the best interest of people what they’re trying to accomplish and being captive just has its limitations versus being completely independent. [00:06:38] Definitely there are limitations. I mean like I said time and time again there’s there’s coverages on the home insurance on the auto insurance especially an umbrella policy. A lot of those captives are going away from what I would consider really good coverages not really cutting corners but they’re just not the best out there. And it’s nice to have six seven carriers now where I know two of them have this really good coverage for a particular situation and then another carrier has a really good coverage for this other particular situation. [00:07:04] So it’s nice to have all the tools in the tool belt I guess so you know going to a smaller company where you have control over a lot of this and I don’t know all the logistics behind it I just know kind of how it works and the life insurance side. Do you have to guarantee these companies or make promises when you’re getting appointed to them about how many contracts you’re going to right with them is that kind of how it works. [00:07:26] They there’s a kind of a softball toss though they do say hey we want to see this many households a year but with the experience we have insurance for instance we’ve got about 27 28 years of experience. I’m not going to have a problem hitting a minor quote At this point. We had a carrier come in just just yesterday or on Monday. And and they said well you know we’d like to see you do this this year and I kind of laughed. I said well I’ve already got about a third of that done this month. Oh really. But it’s like you do a good job. You’re going to bring in the right clients. And so those quotas really really don’t affect how we operate. Just because we’re bringing in the quality clients that appreciate you know giving good advice and receiving it. [00:08:06] Now for us it’s a different type of business because we you know we look for we might take on three or four new clients in a month that are really the right fit for us and you have more of a volume game. But what does your ideal client look like. [00:08:23] I typically will take on you know. But three a week is kind of my goal. And those clients I’m looking for one people that’s the right fit for our business insurance and that would be people who really just want to be you know I would say they’re handheld but they might either want to know a little bit more or something it might be a situation where they just know they need help with this and they want someone to actually walk them through things they’re not looking for a salesperson looking for more of an adviser like you guys would be. [00:08:52] So can you through what the lineup looks like at ACE. Obviously you yourself is there who are also in the office in kind of would you have specialties you kind of do work jointly on cases. I mean how does that work for people who are listening. [00:09:03] We are on the front where me with clients whoever that whoever brought in that initial client is going to kind of be the face for that person. But on the back end we’re working as a team. You know it might be a specific situation hey what have you seen with this carrier. How do they how are they handle these things. And then will also work with the underwriters directly with that specific carrier but nothing more of a team based approach because in any any industry you can maybe miss an angle or something and we want to make sure we’re thorough and take care of clients the best we possibly can. So we always kind of run it by you know my business partner Steve as well as our employee Jack. [00:09:37] Great. You and I are having a conversation before we started recording. I thought it was interesting and you talked about maybe somebody that I don’t want to that you couldn’t help necessarily but can you kind of go through that again with kind of the idea of this person might have to kind of stay where they’re at as opposed to jumping ship. [00:09:54] Yeah. The majority of people we see who are who are who want to fire their current insurance agency or agent is usually because of something wrong with a claim. And so that’s often when people are then calling around and getting to asking their friends their family their co-workers hey who are you insured with. And so it’s just a time where quite honestly there are some situations we’ll have to tell clients to stay put because maybe that that claim isn’t affecting their insurance rates for another eight months or a year whereas we’re looking at that instantly. So it’s just a straight price point. They’re probably better off staying with her after at least until their policy is coming up for renewal. But in other cases we had one this morning she she just wanted she wanted out. And like the company anymore and was willing to pay more. But she she wanted a different experience. [00:10:41] So in those cases it’s fair to say that you know if it does I mean it’s an obvious statement but if it doesn’t make sense for some to move you’re going to you’re going to talk to them about why making kind of a different plan or even kind of going against what they initially thought of coming in saying I’m going to change my I mean you might actually guide them away from that idea he set that period of time. [00:10:59] We even even steven is the owners at ACE. We we’d gone in with Ed. Our previous employer and we know people will be shocked that wait you’re telling me to stay where I should are telling me to go to this place or this place because we really are more about helping people and not not making a sale. And that’s just who we are as people and you know we’re there because we truly have a passion to help those people. And it might be an ace it might be somewhere else. It’s nice that nowadays they have all these options and said can more regularly help clients out. Whereas before it was having multiple resources for those situations. [00:11:35] So you know you talk about the help of people and I think it’s really interesting with you know your transition to this new business in the last few months. I know. With me I know a lot of listeners out there know that I came over here and transition over to Walker Condon couple months ago. And everything that goes on and how hard that is. But interestingly enough for those other I actually met Jason number of years ago in a totally separate situation. But it was about how you were helping people out in the community and you and I both have been doing a golf outing. And I wanted to give you an opportunity to talk about that because I’ve always been extremely impressed with you as a person and for the things that you’ve done to make a difference in the community that way so if you could share a little about that and the kind of history behind how you got your outing started it is going to be great for our clients and here. [00:12:20] No problem. So the whole the background in the story of my golf outing was I was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2010 and just was very grateful for the neurosurgery department. How good how good they are here. UW health and prior to that year we’d already gotten together for just a bunch of guys saying hey let’s let’s just get on make sure we golf once a year and we were going to shoot the cherry. The following year and so the following year was 2010 and I got sick just a few months before that. So it was just kind of the natural progression of all right. Let’s help Jason’s doctors out with us dollars for research and patient care. So that’s where it started back in 2010 and we’re transitioning to a broader base. But it kids needs kids needs based charity called the hundred men of Dane County. [00:13:06] It’s been really great to see kind of that progression and the success and it just goes back to when you talk about there you know ultimately when we go out here in the service industry whether it’s just financial advisors or insurance or people out there whether their estate planning attorneys you know we we try to affiliate and work together closely with people that have a heart for the community and that’s been one of the things like I said that I’ve been around impressed with you so congratulations on that for sure. [00:13:30] Yeah we’ll do a future podcast to a little bit more on charitable giving and we’ll spend some time on that. Jason on a personal note going through that whole process of having cancer and going through that recovery what was the most difficult thing for you to overcome there. [00:13:49] It’s still actually a challenge for me I know trying to keep a positive attitude in the entire situation was key. The difficult part is it made me very very aware of where I was spending my time and still am now with friends with business you know how much time do I spend and building a business or back in 2010 was I going to kick the bucket in six months so it was that balance of Do I need to spend all my time with my family or do I need to start working harder. Where do you spend all your money. Because you’d be dead in six months or already are planning for the future and so it just made me very aware of how I spend my time who I spend it with. I spend time on charitable work or you know be selfish and just take vacations. So it just made me very aware and maybe actually spend time and plan out where I want to spend my time and kind of plan out more of my life on the short term and long term. [00:14:43] How do you find that influencing how you work with clients. [00:14:47] I think in general just trying to add perspective often I’ll deal with the client and get referred to a client who’s buying their first house. And so all they’re thinking about is you know I need to get my home insurance done in three weeks and this is the deadline deadline and just trying to make them see the bigger picture. This is probably one of your largest assets. My job is to is to make sure you have a quality product to protect that home because it is a big asset of yours and so just trying to change some perspective a little bit and really shine some light on that big picture for them. [00:15:18] So somebody is listening right now and you know kind of prototypical climbed by way of auto insurance that might have homeowners insurance maybe renter’s insurance maybe even a policy. [00:15:30] What do you want them to walk away from this podcast kind of thinking about in regard to their insurance. And do they have the right coverage. [00:15:37] Sure. I think in general it’s just if they don’t have the confidence in their insurance company or insurance agent that they think they’re really really taken care of. And you know they just don’t have that confidence that I have no worries. I know my my guy or my my gals taking care of me. I think that’s the time when you just need to find some advice and ask your friends or family or co-workers. You know if they’re happy with their insurance agent because there are a lot of them out there just like advisers so it’s a matter of finding the right fit for you and just having them sit down in that meeting to make sure you’re confident that they’re really watching out for your best interests. [00:16:12] And I think it’s that review process that’s sorely lacking in the Property Casualty world. You know it’s kind of a set and forget thing and you know I think that part of that is the compensation model in the industry right. I mean you know especially when you were captive agency they want new policy new policy new policy and there’s less of a focus on renewal and renewal compensation. And I think that part of the business is flawed but also it leads to this sort of you know it’s the it’s the kill right in the beginning and then you just let them go versus having them do a regular review process. [00:16:45] It was very painful and the captive side looking at you know you want to do what’s best for the client. Right. You’re supposed to be spend your time always bringing in new clients and you know that that didn’t sit well with me which is one of the reasons for the move was I’d rather have a small amount of clients and have better relationships and have more personal attention for them than than just having you know to 3000 clients that I’ve sold and haven’t spoken to in five years. [00:17:11] It’s incredibly difficult I know. Now I had 4800 clients when we were at our our previous spot and the service model is just like it’s not doable you just have no personal touch. I always said that if I can’t recognize my client walking down the street and don’t hold their name. And frankly we didn’t because we had so many names much less know their whole financial situation intimately in your brain when you walk into that meeting. I mean it’s just humanity. [00:17:37] You just have to chop it down and with the fiduciary standard that you know that we have here and how we work with our clients I think that the way that you guys have it set up Jason is more on the lines of being in a situation where you’re doing the right thing for your client. And even if it means you’re having to tell them to wait eight months because that’s the right thing for them and we need more of that in this industry and not less and I think that that’s where we’re going to start to see the successful businesses and the people that are out there changing and touch people’s lives whether it’s financial stuff. I know you talked and you shared with Nate asked you that spending time you know figuring out you know how you don’t know how much you have left or you’re worried about it. You know tell our clients all the time you spend time in life and you spend money at life. You know you can save money but you can’t save time. So really paying attention to how you spend that and in this environment being independent now and having your own agency and your partner you guys are going to be able to tell people don’t realize those sort of things are more important than necessarily how many customers to just sign up this week. [00:18:40] Is my goal is as much as we still have to pay attention to so the numbers it is very refreshing to just know we’ve taken care of clients to really the best. It’s not just our ability but having the right products to make sure they really have the best coverage out there. [00:18:53] So we’re really happy to see that that Jason is here because you know I think the whole whether you’re talking about financial services where your time or insurance we’re talking about real estate. I think that so many people are going independent now because they want to be able to give their clients choice. And I think for almost everybody that does go independent I’ve never heard of anyone go the other way. Once they’re independent they’re independent you know they’re not going back captive. And so there a reason for that it’s because it’s better not only for the clients it’s better for the industries that they’re in it’s better for the people that are owning the businesses it’s just better for everybody without having a lot of those big companies they’re just directing and telling you what you have to do. [00:19:35] Yeah there’s a lot of analogies you could use but imagine you have a grocery list and you need to get diced tomatoes and tomato paste and some other kind of tomato for a meal and you go into the grocery store and they’re all there is this tomato paste. Well you could still technically make the meal but it’s probably not can be very good. And that’s how insurance is on the brokerage side as I have all these different options. And given that specific situation I just have the right fit for people whereas before it was well we can get you some insurance. It’s not the best but we can get you some and I don’t want just some insurance. I want the best for the clients. [00:20:08] And the alginate is that good. It’s pretty good. Yeah I made three analogies. Yeah. Well it’s it’s kind of like Jesus is kind of like a dot dot dot. [00:20:23] Somebody somebody wants to come to Jesus and what should they be thinking what should they be bringing into the meeting. How do they contact you what is that first meeting look like. I mean can you kind of walk people through what immediate with an independent agent looks like as opposed to a captive agent. [00:20:36] Yeah there’s really kind of almost you know no pretending or an interview. I need some basic information first. You know I’d like to be efficient with both my time and the client’s time so there’s some upfront work that I do. [00:20:48] Is that a predating yet makes it a real meeting is that reading you can use that if you like. [00:20:56] Feel free. But some upfront information. I can’t do a lot of my work until like you guys until you really know the entire situation. So having what’s called the Declaration pages is extremely helpful that list or current coverage limits what vehicles they own. Maybe some driver’s license numbers but basic with some of that upfront information is similar to someone getting a mortgage you can’t get the mortgage till they’ve underwritten you a little bit and they can’t give you advice with what program to go into until they know more. So before I set up a meeting with anyone it’s some upfront information so that I can really gather and get prepared with you know what might be the right carriers for this specific situation. [00:21:33] Is it a pretty good rule of thumb that if somebody does not know the name of their agent on their statement that’s a pretty good indication that they should at least be kicking the tires on a different agent. [00:21:42] Yeah I would say so and especially even if you haven’t you know a senior agent in years and years. If you have a conversation with you even on the phone. You know you want them to review it every so often you know situations change. People have kids. People build out a basement. You know people the agents need to know what’s going on in your life to make sure you’re covered properly. So if you haven’t really had a good good discussion with your agent whether it’s in person or on the phone in quite some time. It definitely is. It’s time to even just have someone review it even if it’s not your current agent. [00:22:14] Well we appreciate your time today. This was hopefully valuable for the people who are listening. I know that for Clint and John here in the room we talked to a lot of our clients about the topic of property casualty insurance. In a way it’s almost not talked about as much as it should be. Life insurance gets a lot of play and in some of the other insurance is for some reason people gloss over property casualty. [00:22:35] I think so I think it’s because the price argument they just try to go to the lowest common denominator and I think that people grab a you know grab around here and AMP of State Farm or something like that and they just they just go grab it because they see a commercial on it. They’ve known that agent for a while and yeah I mean this is something that has to be reviewed and I encourage everybody on the podcast you know whether you give you know hopefully you give Jason a call. But focus on getting an independent Property Casualty agent to look through what you have and at least take a check up and make sure that you know that what you have is adequate. And for anybody that doesn’t have an umbrella policy you have to I mean basically if you have a home you need an umbrella policy if you have any sort of assets so you know that’s one thing that people often overlook. [00:23:19] A good good tip on the umbrella too is you can get an umbrella policy. The majority of carriers are going to sell an umbrella policy. But there are some key pieces to an umbrella policy that you want to make sure you have. I didn’t have access to it back to having all the tools and have access to that Liberty Mutual. And that’s one of the things I wanted to see over a ten year career there and nothing never really changed. Now I have four or five carriers that offer it’s called uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. So not only is there a you know liability in case you cause an accident but there’s also million dollars for you and your family in case someone else’s causes and that causes an accident and they may not have the best insurance they might have any insurance you want some financial protection there for you guys as well. [00:24:02] I can speak to that one personally. I was in an accident when I was in college with somebody that was uninsured and also had a revoked license at the time. And you know years and years later there was still no no resolution of it and simple line item like that on an insurance policy could have saved us. Incredible amount of time and money. My parents I should say in that situation. [00:24:25] So and the nice part except in my end at Aysen assurances that those umbrella policies are actually costing less than than what I was selling in the past and I’m getting that additional coverage. So it’s been a huge benefit and obviously for my clients as well. So it makes it a pretty easy sale and a lot of great advice that I can provide just based on those coverage tools. [00:24:47] Well thanks again Jason we really appreciate your time today. Definitely reach out to cloner or John or myself of on contact information for Jason. And again this is not just an advertisement for Jason. This is an advertisement more for independent insurance agents in general. Definitely take a look at your coverage and see if there’s a place for at least a meeting with an agent. [00:25:09] We loved the captive agents as well but definitely you know do some comparison shopping and see you as an independent agent isn’t right for your situation. So again we’re talking to Sue. Massas. [00:25:55] Advisory services are offered through Walkner Condon Financial Advisors LLC a Registered Investment Advisor in the states Wisconsin and Texas. Clint Walkner Nate Condon our investment advisory representatives and Kevin Castro an office manager in Marketing Communications Specialist for Walkner Condon financial advisors. He is not registered and his participation his podcast is limited to unregistered activities and will not be writing any advice advices investment related. Nor should any comments he makes be construed as giving investment advice. Insurance products and services are offered through insurance services LLC Walkner Condon financial advisers LLC WC insurance services LLC are affiliated companies content cannot be viewed as an offer to buy or sell any of the securities mentioned or as legal or tax advice you should always consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific legal or tax situation. Walkner Condon financial advisers LLC is not engaged in the practice of law. Whenever you invest you are at risk of loss of principle as the market does fluctuate. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Purchases are subject to suitability. This requires a review of an investor’s objective risk tolerance and time horizons. Investing always involves risk and possible loss of capital. Long term care estate planning insurance products and tax advice are not offered through Walkner Condon financial advisors LLC Walkner Condon works on a best efforts basis and does not promise or guarantee any results. Past performance does not represent future results. Please see Walknercondon.com for additional disclosures.