Staff at Castell Insurance were recently awarded an Agent For The Future award from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance. Pictured are: home and auto advisor Stephany Shackelford; Medicare advisor Christy Francis; home and auto advisor Andrea Hingtgen; Medicare and life advisor John Coulson; sales and marketing director James Castell; director of first impressions Kelsey Sands, and agency founder Phil Castell. Submitted photo

Staff at Castell Insurance were recently awarded an Agent For The Future award from Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance. Pictured are: home and auto advisor Stephany Shackelford; Medicare advisor Christy Francis; home and auto advisor Andrea Hingtgen; Medicare and life advisor John Coulson; sales and marketing director James Castell; director of first impressions Kelsey Sands, and agency founder Phil Castell. Submitted photo

Castell Insurance selected an ‘Agent For The Future’

During business hours, after hours or on weekends, via phone, video chat or a socially-distanced in-person meeting.

“We like to say meet the person where they want to be met,” said James Castell, sales and marketing director for Castell Insurance.

“If (the client) is someone who can only text with us after hours, we’ve got to do that; we want to be a chameleon.”

That dedication to service — and a major shift from in technology — helped the relatively small Sequim agency take home one of Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance’s 10 Agent For The Future awards.

Now in its third year, the Agent for the Future Award celebrates “the most forward-looking, digitally savvy independent insurance agencies,” the companies said last week.

“Top agencies are always seeking to grow and innovate; they view digital adoption as a journey, not a destination,” the companies noted last week.

“This year’s award winners have cultivated new capabilities, accelerated their digital presence and pivoted to find new ways to attract and retain customers – all during a uniquely challenging year.”

The award highlighted five ways insurance agencies across the U.S. are evolving, including: putting digital tools in place; exploring remote work opportunities; digital marketing; communication and service through any (and every) channel, and constant evolution.

This year, Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance awarded one national winner along with eight regional winners, as well as a new Emerging Leader category. Castell Insurance was selected the Northwest Region winner.

Dan Ferrari, senior vice president and Northwest region field executive at Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance, said Castell’s nomination stood out fora number of reasons.

“Castell Insurance embodies so much of the Agent for the Future spirit. They are digitally savvy and forward-looking, nimble and approachable,” Ferrari said.

“But what really sets Castell Insurance apart is their focus on customer education. They are true partners for their clients and advocates for their community. Whether through social media, on their YouTube channel, or when communicating directly with customers – they help make the insurance experience friendlier for all.

“They may be a small-town agency, but they bring big results and an even bigger vision for the future.”

In the past several years the Sequim business’ brick-and-mortar needed to have the extra services — video chats digital document signing and the like — to make life easier for clients, James Castell said.

“Even as recently as three years ago, everything was on paper,” he said. “(Now) essentially, we’re 100 percent digital.”

Castell noted that while he has no problem applying for grants and honors for other community entities he did feel a little hesitant about submitting an Agent For The Future award nomination. But he said he hopes that winning the award can be an inspiration for other small town business owners and staff.

“I’m not really one to toot my own horn (but it’s a) good story for small town agencies,” he said. “You don’t have to be a big company; you don’t have to have 20,000 customers. You can do stuff that benefits the customer experience not matter how big you are.”

That can come in the form, he notes, of services like Medicare 101 and Home Insurance 101 explainers posted on online platforms such as YouTube.

“This group includes some of the most innovative agencies in the entire independent agent channel,” said Tyler Asher, president of independent agency distribution for Liberty Mutual and Safeco Insurance.

“While they are all unique – each with their own distinct value proposition, customer focus and company culture – what they have most in common is in just how prepared they were to tackle the challenges of 2020 head on.

“They quickly adapted to the changing market conditions brought about by the pandemic, fully embraced digital to ensure the customer experienced remained strong, and continued to cultivate great corporate cultures to keep their teams engaged.”

For more about the Agent For The Future awards, see www.agentforthefuture.com/2020-aftf-award-trends.

For more about Castell Insurance, see www.castellinsurance.com.

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