First impressions often are made in a matter of minutes.
Developing a solid, positive reputation takes years of hard work, something Homer Smith Insurance, Inc., has built for more than five decades.
The insurance agency owned by Sequim resident Homer Smith opened an office in
Sequim on April 1. The main office is located in Port Townsend, where Homer Smith's father opened the business in 1950. The business offers personal lines of insurance - automobile and home - business, marine, life and health insurance.
Homer Smith comes from a long line of insurance agents, according to agent and office manager Denise Davis. Following in Homer Smith's footsteps is his 21-year-old son Ryan Smith, who works at the Sequim branch and someday will take over the business, Davis said.
"He is learning and growing," Davis said proudly about Ryan Smith, whom she is mentoring. Davis has worked in insurance for nearly 30 years - seven as an employee with Homer Smith in the late 1990s.
She remembers a time when insurance companies used type- writers and filed hard copies of paperwork and when floppy disks were the rave. Now, files are stored electronically and everything is done on computers.
A Sequim High School graduate, Davis lived in Olympia and Nevada for several years before moving back to her hometown, Sequim, to be near family and friends. Though she's traveled the world and lived in several states, Davis always comes back to Sequim. "There is no place better to live than here," she said earnestly. "Sometimes you have to go away for a while to realize how much you really like a place."
"There was a time when I probably knew 95 percent of the people living in Sequim," Davis reminisced. "I remember riding my horse through town and leaving it tied to the hitching post."
Davis got her start in insurance by signing up for a course in Houston, Texas. "I've liked and enjoyed insurance ever since," she said.
When she heard Homer Smith was opening a second branch, Davis agreed to rejoin the staff.
Insurance, Davis said firmly, is a necessity not a luxury. "Insurance restores you back to the position where you were before a loss," she explained. "Accidents happen all the time. Whether it's your home, your car or your business - those are all important assets and you can't have the attitude, 'It won't happen to me.' Because it very well might."
Both the percentage and number of people without health insurance decreased in 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The percentage without health insurance dropped from 15.8 percent in 2006 to 15.3 percent in 2007; the number of uninsured persons declined from 47 million to 45.7 million.
One advantage to doing business through Homer Smith Insurance is that agents are licensed in several western states, not just Washington, Davis said. So if a person or family owns houses in Sequim and Arizona, both homes can be insured through the same policy. "Not all agents can do that," Davis pointed out.
Business hours are flexible to accommodate full-time workers and busy families. The office is open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday, but agents are available by appointment after hours and on weekends. "I am even willing to go to a person's place of business if that's what works best for them," Davis said.
"We have a well-qualified staff that strives to take care of the individual needs of each and every client," she continued. "That is why we opened the Sequim office - to be here for Clallam County residents."
Homer Smith Insurance is associated with well-known insurance companies including Safeco, MetLife, LifeWise, Regence Blue Shield and Premera Blue Cross.
Insurance policies for every need
Homer Smith Insurance, Inc., is open for business
8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday and by appointment. The Port Townsend branch is located at 804 Water St., and the Sequim branch is located at 419 W. Washington St. For more information, call 360-385-3711 or 360-683-4970. More information is available online at www.homersmith.com.
The Sequim Gazette is located at 147 W. Washington Street in Sequim.
Business hours are Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Phone 360-683-3311, or toll free at 800-829-5810. FAX 360-683-6670.
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