Best Locally Owned Businesses in St Joseph MO - Tolly & Associates Inc American Family Insurance
Hey, thanks for coming in, Don. I just really appreciate that. And we love Don Tolly at American Family Insurance. We just wanted to ask him to come in and answer a few questions because Don's a fun guy. Well, he makes insurance fun.
I don't know about that, but we try to do our best.
Yeah. Well, anyhow, we just wanted to ask you a few questions, and insurance is kind of an intimidating subject to some people. So I know you can help them with that. So tell us a little bit about yourself first.
Well, I grew up in Illinois and I had a twin sister who passed away and my parents are still in Illinois living. And I've lived in five states for American Family. And the last nine years I've been here in Saint Joseph, Missouri, as an agent for American Family.
Awesome. So, American Family is what brought you to Saint Joe?
American Family is what brought me to Saint Joe to open my own business after 24 years in the corporate world with American Family.
Awesome. Well, congratulations. We love having you in the community and know that you do a lot for the Saint Joseph community. So we want to thank you for that. And we'll talk a little bit more about that in just a little bit.
Thank you, Lorrie.
So what do you love most about Saint Joe?
I think it's the uniqueness. I think Saint Joe has a lot to offer. Saint Joseph is a place that has a lot of history and there's a lot of good things happening here in the city. I'm fortunate this year I'll be the chair of the board for the Chamber and we're talking about some good things there that are happening. And I think we're headed in the right direction to make it a place where people want to live.
I do, too. I think we're making a lot of great changes here. And speaking of history, you know, we have a lot of historical homes here. So if you're ever out and about, go check some of those out because they are beautiful.
Yes, they are. And we are working on one of them today, so.
Oh, yeah? Tell us about that.
Well, my sales specialist was out at a historical home that's registered and the person is just looking to evaluate their insurance and we're just taking the opportunity to take a look at it, make sure that person has the insurance they need. And if there's anything that we can offer that maybe he doesn't have.
Awesome. So that's a service you provide?
Yes. If someone calls in for a quote or they would like us to look at their insurance, I'm one of those agents that I would prefer to put my eyes on the home because there's not a better way to understand what a customer has than going out and inspecting the home. I don't need to get inside the home unless it's a unique property. But if I can get out and evaluate the home, there are things I'm going to find that maybe the other insurance agent didn't notice when they wrote the policy or things that we better make sure we have special endorsements that would cover the property should they have those unique things.
Sure. So what are some examples of that?
Well, one of the first things is if someone has a basement and they have a sump pump, you better make sure you have the endorsement to cover should water backup through the sump pump or even through the sewer system. It's one of those endorsements. The first thing you need to know is, is the basement finished? And if it is, it's an endorsement you better start talking about.
That's a great point. I bet there's a lot of people who don't have that.
And I used to do claims and you learn the hard way when you tell someone, “I'm sorry, but you don't have the appropriate coverage.” You know, one thing we see here in Saint Joseph is from the street to the house the sewer line is not covered. Now, the city will offer some coverage for that. You can buy through the city. We a few years ago developed an endorsement that's $50 to add to your policy to cover that sewer line should that say a tree root goes through that sewer line and damages or just collapses. It would be covered if you had this endorsement. Again, you're talking about a very expensive repair that's not covered under your traditional homeowners unless you have an endorsement.
That's a great point, because I just experienced that with one of my clients. Yes, I think it was about a $6,500 fix and no insurance.
And I have a friend up in Wisconsin who we insure, and he had it happen and it was $1,200 dollars for him. And our endorsement comes with just a flat $500 deductible. And it's $50 - it's either $50 or $75 a year. And I think for the city, when you buy that coverage, I want to say it's $125 to $150.
Okay. Well, that's great to know. See, we're learning all kinds of things today. So we obviously deal with homes. What are some of the things that new homeowners should be looking out for when they go to purchase insurance?
Well, first of all, I would say when they purchase insurance, when they purchase the home, get a good realtor just like Lorrie, that someone can walk you through the entire process. And then insurance becomes something that is needed once you decide you're going to purchase the home. And when purchasing insurance, you want to make sure that your home is covered for full replacement cost. If the company offers that for your particular home. In most cases, unless the home is so old, you can get full replacement cost on your home. And with the cost of building materials and with inflation, with the cost of labor going up - what people don't realize is their home may be under insured at this time. And just remember, market value is totally different than insurance replacement cost coverage. And sometimes what we see in Saint Joseph, especially if people are buying investment properties, the insurance replacement cost will be much more than that investment property, if you want full replacement cost. That's where you need to sit down with your advisor, your insurance advisor, and say, "What kind of coverage do you want for your investment?" Because protecting your investment is the most important thing.
True. And we do have a lot of investors. So that is really good information. You need to be on the lookout for. Because you're right, costs have gone through the roof in the last year and replacing your home is not what it used to be.
And I've had some builders that actually have called in, increased the values of their homes, knowing that it costs more today. Just go buy a two by four and you'll know.
How often do you recommend people reassess their coverage?
At a minimum, what we do is we'll call our customers. We try to every year and offer them when their renewal comes up. If we don't get to them, at least every other year you should take a look at your insurance, make sure you have the appropriate coverages, sit down with your risk advisor, and there may be changes. Life changes. Your investments change. Your cars get older. There are things you can do to make sure you're not overpaying your insurance but making sure you have the appropriate coverage.
Good point. Yeah. So what are some things that you wish everybody knew about the insurance business?
From our insurance standpoint as an agent, one of the things that every agent that they have a hard time handling it and it's a difficult conversation is when we take rate increases. Rate increases are determined by the actuaries that work the numbers, and they are smarter than I am. They have math degrees, but they go through the data and they predict, they look at the future, they predict the future, what they think may happen, and then they set the rates. And I will tell you right now, every insurance company, just so you know, every insurance company are taking rate increases because of the inflation and things that we're going through with the cost of even on automobiles - the cost to get a part has gone up, a used part, clear up to the labor for someone to actually repair that car.
Sure. So, Don, I know you're involved in The Kindness Revolution. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
The Kindness Revolution is a not for profit organization. The founder is Ed Horrell. And Ed and I are friends and probably eight years ago, I'd been in the community about a year, they came to me and said, “Hey, we're looking for a community champion.” And they use insurance agents as community champions. And our goal is just to spread kindness throughout the community, through churches, through schools, through nonprofit organizations, civic organizations, and anything that we can do to just to make Saint Joseph and the community a better place. We have a lot of things that we do in the community and through the schools that we try to promote The Kindness Revolution.
I think that's amazing. So what better thing to do than to just be kind?
Be kind. It's free. As I tell kids, “It doesn't cost anything to be kind.”
Exactly. And what's this logo on your shirt? Is this a new organization?
Well, this is the Project Safe Family. It is an initiative we have here in Saint Joseph. There are five members to the Project Safe Family. And it's all about promoting Saint Joseph as a better place to live. And we give information - you know, suicides are up right now with COVID. And the recent commercial, if you see it, there's a phone number, I think it's 9-8-8 where people can call a suicide hotline. And what we do is we share that information through the TV commercials and to the community so that if anyone's ever in need because they feel that way or they know someone that feels like they may want to commit suicide, they have someone to reach out to. And our goal is we look at any initiative we can find. The newest initiative is let's get the kids in school. And so our new commercial, we're shooting today, as I told you Lorrie is let's get kids back in school and let's keep them in school.
Fantastic. Well, is there anything else you would like to share with us, Don?
I would say if you ever need a second opinion on your insurance, give us a call. You know, as I tell people that sit across from me, even if you don't choose our agency or American Family, I've made a new friend. Because if I see you around Saint Joe, it's a small town, I can say hello.
We appreciate everything you do for our town. We really do, because you're very involved and we very much appreciate that, Don. So thank you so much for coming in and give Don a call.
Thanks for having us.
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