NAME: Ella Crow
TITLE/COMPANY: Vice President of Insurance Office of America
MARRIED: Yes, to Jay for 32 years
CHILDREN: Grown daughter, Elisha Marie; son, Brad; and grandson, Alexander
On a typical day, what types of tasks and responsibilities do you tackle?
I meet with clients and put together an insurance program designed specifically for their unique business needs. Even in the same industry, everyone does things a little differently. I also meet with my staff and underwriters to get the account considered for review and subsequent proposal.
What do you love about your job?
I love working with a multitude of businesses and learning about their unique process; it’s a wonderful way to see our economy growing one business idea at a time. I enjoy working with my staff, who have been insurance professionals for 20-plus years; they are knowledgeable and well-versed in business insurance.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
The most challenging part of my position is splitting my time between existing clients and new client opportunities. Existing clients need day-to-day customer service. We also provide our exclusive RiskScore Safety Training to any of our insureds who will allocate time to train with our staff. This is ongoing training for their managers, supervisors and employees throughout the policy year. We want our clients to avoid claims, and that will subsequently reduce insurance premiums. The savings will help them allocate money that would be paid for a higher premium to building their company and expanding.
New clients take several months of preparation for us to meet with them and their staff and learn about their business. We then market their account to many of our carriers that has a program for their industry. Accessing the perfect program is a challenge for many agencies as they are limited to just a handful of carriers. IOA has 160-plus contracts with every major carrier, so that isn’t a problem for us. We have been given a Lloyd’s Broker status in London. A client may already have a policy with one of Lloyd’s syndicates, but we will try to negotiate a better price by accessing our London office.
What sets IOA apart from other insurance agencies?
IOA is a privately-owned company based on a cornerstone of faith, our families and the fun of living our lifework. We have a full-time staff member whose job is to organize fundraisers and give back to the communities we serve. The Corporate 5K Race each year in Orlando is attended by thousands of people in an effort to create healthy workplaces within Central Florida’s businesses and organizations.
How has the insurance industry changed over the past few years?
The premise for main street business has not changed, but the exposures have expanded due to the use of computers and the Internet. This has created claims that were never anticipated in the past, including cyber breach of their computer systems and loss of sensitive data, whether personal, business or client data. In most cases, it leads to identity theft. If they also use merchant services for credit cards, the regulatory agencies and clients must be notified immediately.
Why did you choose your profession?
I wanted a profession, not a job. This was a perfect complement to my husband’s Air Force career, which kept us moving every 3 years. I enjoy getting to simplify insurance coverages and rules for my clients. I want them to be educated about everything that they are purchasing.
Personally, what do you hope to accomplish this year and what are you most excited for?
I am looking forward to bringing IOA’s market strength to Brevard County coupled with my 25 years of commercial insurance expertise. This will open up many choices for the business owners of Brevard. IOA has a family of companies to service all of our clients’ needs, including AAA – Asset Advisors of America, EUA – Environmental Underwriting Solutions, IOA Sports Partners, Payroll Office of America, ACN Services London, and Exclusive Safety Training through RiskScore.
What would you tell the younger version of you to do differently?
I would tell myself not to shy away from a career in sales. What scared me at first was the uncertainty of a paycheck. When you are in sales, you are more than likely on commission only and there’s the fear of not being able to meet your monthly budget. When I made the change, I actually did better financially because deep down, I felt I was working for myself.
What are the top accomplishments of your business?
It’s most gratifying to have long-term customers. I have several that have passed the torch to their children, and I’m now their insurance agent. What a great compliment to be a trusted advisor for two generations of entrepreneurs.
Where do you see your business going in the future?
I’m very excited about the growth potential of Brevard County, and expanding and adding staff members is on the horizon for our location. We also have the potential to become the premier insurance agency for all top tier businesses. We are not limited in any area of business and can insure anything from professional sports teams to manufacturers, restaurants and communications companies.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love spending time with my family. We have a family sailboat that provides great entertainment for exploring our waterways and islands on the weekends. It’s nice to take advantage of the natural beauty around us.