Building a Better Insurance Agency
A quarter-century is a long time in the insurance world. Ron Hettler, owner of Hettler Insurance Agency in Lubbock, has weathered many changes.
“What is most remarkable is a realization that we’ve insured individuals born in three different centuries,” Hettler said. “Generations of families and businesses have counted on HIA. It’s what keeps us motivated for the future.”
As the company celebrates 25 years in business, Mr. Hettler is both proud and grateful that his family and staff, have been able to consistently serve their community.
Not many independent agents reach this milestone without a merger or acquisition. Fewer than a dozen other independent agencies in Lubbock have managed to stay in business this long.
Hettler Insurance Agency started back in 1992, when Ron Hettler bought a portion of Cornwall and Stevens and opened an office in Lubbock. In the beginning, HIA was focused on selling personal lines, including property, auto and life. In 2000, the agency expanded their focus to include commercial policies. Now, the agency focuses equally on businesses, individuals and families and works with 30+ insurance carriers.
“We handle all types of coverage from multiple insurers and are licensed to sell throughout Texas,” Hettler said. “Recently, we’ve been insuring tiny homes in Austin, to earthquakes in the Permian Basin. We also offer insurance for solar panels on your home, Uber/Lyft drivers to cyber-attacks for businesses.”
Hettler maintains an active role in all phases of the business. “As the President and spokesperson of HIA, people are surprised they can talk and meet with me directly,” he said. “But to be a successful insurance broker, you need to build relationships with your customers and provide support. I always set aside time to listen and respond to current customers and help new clients understand insurance.” Hettler has strengthened his ties to the community by serving as president of local organizations, including the Independent Insurance Agents of Lubbock, Lubbock Business Association, the Lubbock Area Health Underwriters Association, the Rotary Club of Lubbock, and the Rawls’ Men’s Golf Association at the Rawls Course at Texas Tech.
How Insurance Has Evolved in 25 Years
Like any type of business, insurance has changed drastically from 1992 to 2017. Lubbock itself has also changed, affecting policies and coverage options.
“We now have trees in Lubbock!” Hettler said. “Twenty-five years ago, there were fewer trees. Now, there’s a real risk of limbs falling on vehicles and homes from a storm.”
Lubbock’s water risks have also changed with the insurance industry. “No one builds homes in Lubbock anymore with a wooden or cedar shake roof,” Hettler said. “There has also been an explosion in claims for mold and water damage. Much of it caused by dishwasher leaks and other appliance-caused water damage. Lubbock also floods more often, and there is a greater risk for residents and businesses in flood plains and outside of flood zone areas.”
The insurance industry now considers ‘man’s best friend’ as a major personal liability. “Certain dog breeds can greatly increase the cost of homeowner’s insurance,” responded Ron Hettler. “Other household risks now include trampolines, roosters and backyard features like old sheds and fencing.”
The relationship between credit and affordable insurance is now a major factor. “Twenty-five years ago, a credit score hardly mattered,” Hettler said. “Today, poor or no credit can cause individuals to pay higher premiums. It helps to get a quote from multiple carriers through an independent agent!”
One of the biggest changes in the last 25 years is how much easier and faster it can be to get a quote. “Now we can underwrite policies quickly, in real time on the phone or through an in-person meeting after a few minutes. Twenty-five years ago, we were required to mail in applications and wait for approval”, said Ron Hettler. In addition, an inspection of a home or business is no longer required in the quote process. “We used to be required to inspect every house in person, to peer over fencing and walk around a home. Now Google allows us to do inspections on street view!”
But one thing hasn’t changed. Hettler Insurance Agency is devoted to providing the best service to all its customers by working with multiple carriers to deliver the best policy.