Community Partner Podcast Series: Luke Ticknor From Farmers Insurance

[Below is a transcription of the podcast]

Cheri Landin: Welcome to the Mortgage Company’s Community Partner Podcast Series. My name is Cheri Landin and I am the community development director here. One of the things that I get to do in this role is interview our community partners so we can educate all of our customers and anyone else that is interested in finding out about this subject. And I think the one we have today will be of interest because it can be confusing. So anyway I’m here today with Luke Ticknor from Farmers Insurance. Welcome, Luke.

Luke Ticknor: Hey Cheri, thanks for inviting me.

Cheri Landin: Yeah absolutely. Absolutely. Alright. So Farmers Insurance. I’m sure most people have heard about that but tell me specifically about the agency you’re involved with.

Luke Ticknor: Right. So my agency is family owned and operated which is pretty cool. My dad’s been an agent for 27 years now. We have one other employee, his name is Brandon and to bring it back to like a family thing, he was my best man at my wedding. So it’s the three guys in there right now and we’re just super close, trying to work and have a good time.

Cheri Landin: Awesome. Alright. So your agency is located?

Luke Ticknor: In Lakewood.

Cheri Landin: In Lakewood but even though you’re located in Lakewood it doesn’t mean like you write insurance for all of Colorado?

Luke Ticknor: Yes, anywhere in the state of Colorado. I mean we have people in Pueblo, we have folks in the Western Slope, Greeley, in the mountains, everywhere.

Cheri Landin: And so you said your dad has been in the business 27 years?

Luke Ticknor: Somewhere around there.

Cheri Landin: And did he force you to join this agency or did you want to?

Luke Ticknor: Well it was kind of always one of his dreams but he never really told us about it until about seven or eight years ago where he wanted either my sister or I to take over the business. And so when he kind of sat down with me I was in my 30s, doing restaurant business in the early 20s and he goes, “Hey this is a great business you know. We would be really proud of you (my mom and him) if you would take over the business.” I’m like, sounds like a plan.

Cheri Landin: OK so how long have you actually been there?

Luke Ticknor: Five and a half years.

Cheri Landin: So you’ve learned all about the business, obviously.

Luke Ticknor: The one thing that’s really cool about the insurance business is every day seems like there’s a question where we’re like, “Oh we don’t know that answer.” So I mean every day is a learning process so I try to say I know everything. But every day something new comes up which is always fun and exciting with the business. That’s for sure.

Cheri Landin: Yeah. Alright. So we’ll talk about kind of the different types of insurance because insurance is broad right? It’s just a broad term. So we’ll talk a little bit more about the types of insurance. But I think one that’s really relevant to people associated with The Mortgage Company or just any real estate transaction is the homeowner’s insurance. I don’t know what the exact percent of homebuyers are right now that have financing but if you have financing, homeowner’s insurance is required. So assuming that most people that own homes and whether homeowners insurance is required or not I’m guessing it’s probably a good idea to have it.

Luke Ticknor: You’re going to want it.

Cheri Landin: You’re going to want it. So Let’s talk about homeowners insurance. So first of all, how do you even compare because everyone is like, “I’m going to shop insurance.”

Luke Ticknor: Sure. So let’s say if there is a customer that comes in and says, “Hey we’re looking to shop insurance.” First few things we will look at is their dwelling coverage. So are they covered adequately? Number two, deductible. We’re seeing a lot of people, a lot of companies in Colorado do a wide range of deductibles from a thousand dollars up to 5%, 4% for that.

Cheri Landin: That’s a big difference.

Luke Ticknor: It’s huge right. So it goes from could be a 5000, 6000 dollar deductible, so that’s one of our major factors we look at is our deductibles.

Cheri Landin: OK. You’re right. OK. Because I think you know when someone is looking at, let’s just assume you get a couple of quotes, 2-3 quotes. Someone wants to do their due diligence and so they have them sitting side by side. But so they don’t know if they’re comparing apples to apples or not. So deductible is I think is maybe the largest one that could differentiate, but what else would be variables in comparing the policies?

Luke Ticknor: Well so for us personally we have actually three policies that we can fully customize. So it’s pretty helpful in our agency we can sit down and ask each client, what’s the most important thing they want to have covered? For example like do they have a bunch of personal property that they would like to be covered. Well, we can add additional personal property where I think other companies, that’s sort of just a generic you put down the coverages and it’s what you get or what you don’t get. And so personal property is probably a big one as well.

Cheri Landin: Which actually is inside your home correct.

Luke Ticknor: Yep. Also, there’s a big coverage, I’ve been seeing a lot of like our roofers and our painters and our siding guys see that maybe companies are doing actual cash value on roofs and siding compared to replacement cost. So that’d be a big difference. So for Farmers, we do replacement costs on everything. So if your roof is totaled, well they’re going to replace it to the whole, to what it’s going to cost for today. Some companies with actual cash value, they’re going to depreciate the value of that roof, let’s say it’s a 20-year-old roof, then only give the person that amount of money to fix their house, fix their roof, or their house or whatever.

Cheri Landin: And the rest will be out of pocket?

Luke Ticknor: Correct. Yeah.

Cheri Landin: OK well that could be a very large number.

Luke Ticknor: That’s the third thing that we definitely look at is so we look at deductibles, dwelling, and then if it’s actual cash value or replacement cost on the house.

Cheri Landin: Sounds really like just taking a look at the least expensive policy premium might not be the best idea.

Luke Ticknor: Exactly.

Cheri Landin: Is that right?

Luke Ticknor: Yep.

Cheri Landin: OK. Is there kind of standard coverages that all policies come with and then you can add extras?

Luke Ticknor: So the extras would be, we off a coverage called marring, which is going to cover anything metal on the roof or any of the gutters or anything like that. All of your jewelry, if you have pretty expensive jewelry that’s going to be extra, furs, guns, all that sort of extra things would be additional, not automatically included in the policy.

Cheri Landin: Alright. So and this is homeowner’s insurance and I’m guessing it depends on the type of property like. I guess what I’m thinking is some policies will cover things externally on your home and some will not. Or I guess maybe what I’m thinking of if there’s like an HOA. So sometimes the HOA may have a policy in place for outside for people.

Luke Ticknor: Right and that’s typically more of like an HO6 policy. We don’t see a lot of like single-family dwellings that are covered by an HOA like on that exterior.

Cheri Landin: All right. So talk to me about wind damage. Is that covered?

Luke Ticknor: Wind damage is covered. Yep. Depends on your deductible. So with us, we start with a $1500 deductible.

Cheri Landin: OK. Yeah, I ask that because I’ve heard people saying that sometimes if there’s damage from the wind it’s not covered and I don’t know if that’s another, and when I heard that I’m thinking, oh for the love of God not around here in Colorado, it’s so windy.

Luke Ticknor: Possibly it could be because maybe wind doesn’t cause as much damage to their deductible so maybe it’s only a couple of hundred dollars worth of damage, possibly that could be it. But for our policy, if there’s any sort of wind damage that exceeds their deductible, it would be covered.

Cheri Landin: Ok, good to know. So tell me then what products you do offer outside of traditional homeowners.

Luke Ticknor: So we’re full service. So we do auto, home, life, commercial. Our main focus is commercial at the moment. so we do a lot of restaurants. We’re working on 2019 to try to do a lot of breweries. So we have about six or seven of us, we’ve got a banker and a few other folks that we’re trying to create sort of a little group and we’re going to go in there and try to insure and see if anybody needs anything from us so we’re excited for that but mostly commercial products is what we’re mostly focused on.

Cheri Landin: Well I would say at least here in the Denver metro area right well and even extending beyond, breweries are huge. And restaurants. And you know that’s not necessarily something that everyone wants to insure? Is that correct? Like not all insurance companies want to insure those types of establishments?

Luke Ticknor: I would guess most of them do but there might be some smaller company out there that would prefer not to but for us, we have one of the best products out there so we think we have our first initial in, in talking to the business owner, we have a great product. So I think we’ll be doing well.

Cheri Landin: Alright. So what’s different about your products or for those industries specifically.

Luke Ticknor: So for restaurants. Most companies actually their product is determined on sales of the restaurant between alcohol and food. That sort of determines the price of the initial part. We are square footage only. So let’s say in two years the restaurant is blowing up and their sales go up 50 %, well their premium potentially could go up that much because they’re going to insure that. Well with us our premiums are not going to go up due to that because, unless they build a bigger building or something like that, the restaurants going to stay the same due to the square footage. So it’s kind of a kind of our little niche that we have so far at the moment.

Cheri Landin: Good to know. Yeah, that’s interesting. Alright. So is there anything out there in the insurance world, I’m sure you do a lot of reviews for, I’m guessing your own plus others that come to you for the first time. Is there anything common, like common mistakes, or do you see people often with the same risk over and over? Maybe they’re unaware of like they’re missing something.

Luke Ticknor: So what we see most often is cheaper is not better, is what we tell all of our clients in our office. So they go online they find a company that’s online. They decide it’s a cheaper product, we’re going to go with that. Well, come to find out their coverages are state minimums, something along those lines. Insurance is all about protecting you and your family and your assets when something bad happened. So you want to make sure you’re covered correctly and we see a lot of the online companies not making that a major focus, which in our office that’s our biggest focus, is making sure our clients are covered adequately.

Cheri Landin: You know it was interesting when I just heard you say when something happens, not if something happens, but when something happens.

Luke Ticknor: So you know even the hailstorms. I know 10 years ago, I’m a Colorado native, you wouldn’t see these hail storms. Now the last like four years they seem to get bigger and bigger and more of them. So it’s just a matter of when it’s going to happen not if your house is going to need a new roof. Or this state is growing so big that it’s a matter of a time when going to get hit on Colorado Boulevard, not if. And we’re seeing so many people with either not enough coverage or no coverage at all. Colorado is one of the highest states I think with uninsured motorists so that’s scary.

Cheri Landin: That’s scary. And so that’s something that you offer, uninsured motorist coverage?

Luke Ticknor: So what uninsured motorist is if let’s say you get in an accident and you’re not at fault and somebody hits you obviously and they don’t have enough insurance or you exhaust their limits and then your coverage comes into play.

Cheri Landin: Alright. Yeah, that’s mandatory. I mean you probably don’t have to have that on your policy is that right?

Luke Ticknor: It’s actually a state required coverage.

Cheri Landin: To have uninsured motorist?

Luke Ticknor: But you can reject it if you want to. But it’s part of the state-mandated thing.

Cheri Landin: So then how is it that so many people can drive without insurance if like it’s required to have insurance?

Luke Ticknor: What we kind of see people do is they call up a number, they get insurance and then the next day they cancel it. Or they don’t pay their bills or something along those lines.

Cheri Landin: And they’re still on the road.

Luke Ticknor: But then they still have their insurance in their vehicles so they think, “Hey I have insurance!” But they don’t.

Cheri Landin: Wow. Alright, that’s frightening.

Luke Ticknor: We actually had a phone call from a person that was hurt or was hit by a client of ours that was from like 10 years ago. And he thought that he still had insurance with us but he hadn’t had insurance with us for over ten years. But he had the proof of insurance from 2008 in his vehicle.

Cheri Landin: And he thought he had insurance. Wow. Even without paying that bill.

Luke Ticknor: Exactly. So those are the things we deal with a lot.

Cheri Landin: Give me another good story. Well, actually I think I just heard you say you had a.

Luke Ticknor: Yeah we just had a client that, 16-year-old kid two accidents in the last like what three weeks or something like that. So yeah.

Cheri Landin: Well I will tell you those roads are crowded and you know not to mention the weather.

Luke Ticknor: And people are on their cell phones also which doesn’t help.

Cheri Landin: Yeah. So tell me about if something happens, not if but when something happens.

Luke Ticknor: I like how you like that.

Cheri Landin: Well it really kind of sunk in when you said that, it’s probably true. It’s something will happen at some point. Whether it’s with your home or an auto. I think you mentioned you have umbrella policies too, liability policies. You know someone maybe gets hurt in your home, I’m not sure. So talk to me a little bit about the claims process with you guys. How does that work?

Luke Ticknor: So for us, we’re pretty proud about how Farmers deals with claims. You know we talk to a lot of our contractors and comparatively, to other companies they feel like Farmers does top notch job you know. It’s pretty amazing to see that they’re willing to take care of their customers. So what we do is when a customer calls let’s say for a roof claim because they had a hailstorm or something. We’ll, of course, take down everything, find out when the date happened and stuff like that. And then we’ll have one of our trusted roofers go out there and check out the roof and if they determine that it’s going to be a roof claim then we’ll walk them through the whole process of filling the claim, getting a hold of their adjuster and kind of keeping track of everything pretty much.

Cheri Landin: So your agency actually steps in.

Luke Ticknor: Yep we’ll follow the claim for the client.

Cheri Landin: Yeah. Well, I have to say actually Luke because I did have a claim with you. I have my auto insurance with you. And there was something that was on the road and I had damage underneath my car. And this is when there was a lot of body shops that you had to wait months to get into because they’re so busy and maybe it’s due to all this hail and all the other stuff but body shops are really busy around here.

Luke Ticknor: Yeah, six or eight months out sometimes.

Cheri Landin:  I called your agency and sure enough my car was, you lined up the shop, I paid my deductible and my car was back to me within 10 days.

Luke Ticknor: Right. So how cool is that?

Cheri Landin: Kudos yeah. That was really good.

Luke Ticknor: I mean you talk to like a personal injury lawyer in my BNI group and he deals with customers who are still six months, eight months out of even just getting their car into the shop to get it fixed. Within ten days you’re driving your car, potentially wrecking it again.

Cheri Landin: No! That’s not what this is about. So what in your opinion what do you think makes your agency unique?

Luke Ticknor: So what makes our agency unique is one, the Farmer’s brand. They truly care about their customers.  just taking care of the customers is such a huge priority for your example. So for us in our agency alone it’s about customer service. We try to give all of our customers our cell phones because you know that flooding of the basement that doesn’t happen between 9 and 5. Right. It’s always 4:00 a.m. It seems like. Like oh no what is that? I think that stands us apart. And also we answer our phones. We hear so many people say, “Hey I called my company they sent me to a 1-800 number, somebody in Dallas or Florida and they’re not even local people.” Where we’re local, we’re in Lakewood we’ll be there for you, seven days a week, 24/7.

Cheri Landin: That’s huge. I just had a service. So you’re talking about customer service. I had to make a customer service call, as a consumer recently. And when you go through, you dial the 800 number and you have the prompts, and they say press 1 if you want English, 2 if you want Spanish and so on, however, it goes. And I happen to speak English so I press 1 and then the person that they connect me to doesn’t and that’s a very frustrating situation. So the fact that you can actually call you and talk to you directly.

Luke Ticknor: Yeah if the customer needs something then they can just shoot me a text message at 7 o’clock at night. I’ll be able to take care of them. I think that gives us a value where maybe some companies don’t have that same sort of service.  And then also with us, I think our experience, with my father being 26-27 years into it, I’m 5 or 6, Brandon’s the same amount. I mean that’s a lot of experience in one office. So we really try to work together as a team on all of our products so whatever we’re working on, all three of us have our hands in it to make sure that we’re doing it right or their properly covered or maybe they see something I didn’t see. And so by the time we get back to the customer, it’s the best product they can have. The best coverages.

Cheri Landin: And you know you’re dealing with people in crisis right? When they’re calling you it’s because something happened that’s not very pleasant. They’re saying, ‘Oh my God now I need you. Thank goodness I have this coverage but now I need you.”

Luke Ticknor: And we want to be the first one to say, “Hey guess what. You’re covered.” or “You don’t have a 3% deductible that you didn’t know about, your deductible is $1500 that’s affordable, right?”  You can afford to get your house fixed after a huge hailstorm for that. I don’t know if somebody told me I have a 5% deductible on my house, that’s a $6000 deductible. Could I personally afford to fix my house? I don’t know. It’d kind of a tough topic with my wife. So I think we really try to pride ourselves on that, making sure our customers are taken care of.

Cheri Landin: Yeah. So are there any other unique products or other types of things that you insure.

Luke Ticknor: So we do a lot of like specialty items. So we do like travel trailers, ATVs, motorcycles, all the fun toys that we like to call them in the office. Boats. The whole the whole nine. Yeah.

Cheri Landin: And I’m guessing is there a benefit to kind of packaging all of your insurance products.

Luke Ticknor: Bundling them all together obviously gives you a pretty good discount.

Cheri Landin: Alright. So is there any kind of a takeaway or are there any misconceptions out there or if there was anything that you would say to people, “Hey you really need to know this just like consider this when you’re thinking about insurance.”

Luke Ticknor: For me, it comes back to make sure you know your coverages. There are so many people out there that don’t know their coverages or their limits and when something happens as we’ve already talked about, they have low limits. A good example is we’ve talked about this is imagine yours in an accident. There are four vehicles and you are the one that caused all four vehicles to have damage. Maybe let’s say the fourth vehicle there are three injuries. Well is your coverage going to be enough to first, take care of the people, the three vehicles and the three people that are injured? And do you still have enough coverage for your vehicle or for your injuries? And if you don’t know that answer, you should give us a call because that’s what we value is making sure that if that happens, you’re going to be properly covered.

Cheri Landin: OK. And situations change right? You know I have been guessing. Tell me if this is accurate but you know home prices have clearly elevated here in Denver, Colorado the area in general. Definitely. So how does that work with insurance? Like how do you know when you need to up your coverage if you will?

Luke Ticknor: So for our company we actually, within the policy, every year they determine the dwelling, if it increased a little bit or something like that, it’s automatically included in our policy. That sort of raises the amount of dwelling coverage in case of a total loss. But we try to review all of our clients once a year to ensure, sometimes maybe it’s too high of coverage or let’s say maybe they added a detached garage that they didn’t tell us about. Well, we need to add that onto the policies. So there’s a lot of things that we do. But within that aspect that you’re talking about, our policy actually kind of goes with the time and if the dwelling increases gradually.

Cheri Landin: Yeah. Well, so that’s a lot of information. It’s a lot of stuff you insure, it’s a lot of information. I think if someone is listening to this right now, whether you own a home and car, toys, whatever the case may be, maybe thinking, “Maybe I ought to check this out.” So if there’s someone out there listening right now saying, “Maybe I ought to talk to this Luke guy how would they get ahold of you?

Luke Ticknor: You can e-mail me or give us a call at the office 303-922-7475 or my email is luke.dticknor@farmersagency.com. Or my cell phone. Text me: 303-501-4885.

Cheri Landin: Alright well thanks, Luke. I appreciate all of the good information. I think you definitely are going to have some people thinking and maybe your phone will be ringing.

Luke Ticknor: Let’s hope so. Thanks for having me, Cheri. Appreciate it.

Cheri Landin: Thanks, Luke.

 

Cheri Landin

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