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Coast to Coast with Iroquois Group

The Iroquois Group spans from coast to coast and today we are talking to one of our outstanding members based in Roseville, California. Our Regional Manager, Mike Mullens has built a deep relationship with Zane Pexa and his agency, Pacific Unity Insurance Solutions. California really is the wild west when it comes to homeowners insurance and having a connected partnership has allowed Zane and his team make insurance as easy as possible for their clients.

Iroquois Group Member Agency on the podcast today

Edwin K. Morris (5s):
Welcome to the trusted adviser podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor in all things insurance. I am Edwin K. Morris. Zane Pexa started in the insurance industry as a volunteer CSR, but his path to insurance started long before that. Zane was born into a third generation of insurance workers. From the unpaid CSR position, Zane worked his way up to being producer for a family owned agency. In late 2015, he partnered with others to open Pacific Unity Insurance Solutions, and they have been growing ever since. You said it was kind of hot where you are.

Zane Pexa (44s):
Oh, I’m in Sacramento, California, just outside of Sacramento in the suburb called Roseville at the base of the Sierra foothills. And yeah, it’s gonna be a 111 out here tomorrow.

Edwin K. Morris (54s):
Big question is, how long have you been with the Iroquois?

Zane Pexa (58s):
I’ve been with Iroquois since December of 2015, I guess five and a half years.

Edwin K. Morris (1m 5s):
What have you seen change in that five and a half years?

Zane Pexa (1m 7s):
I’ve just seen more intentionality around partnership. Our rep out here, Mike Mullens, just continues to dive in and see where he can help and really emphasizes the partnership, which is appreciated tremendously in helping us navigate the ever-changing landscape that is California insurance.

Edwin K. Morris (1m 26s):
In that landscape of, I’ll say, quick sand, because this sounds like it’s constantly shifting. What’s the strategies that have been driving that growth for you?

Zane Pexa (1m 36s):
The strategy for us has just been consistency in all of our processes. For instance, a homeowners policy five years ago would be something that we could handle very quickly and efficiently. Where today, if we get a home policy up in the foothills somewhere, it can take hours, weeks of work to do, just because of all the losses that we’ve experienced on here. So everything has gotten a lot more complex from an underwriting perspective. So staying consistent in our processes and having clearly defined expectations among our entire staff has really helped us mitigate some of the complexity that has come from the outside.

Edwin K. Morris (2m 16s):
That really fortifies how you do business, right. That’s what I’m hearing is that this structure that you stick to is what keeps the wheels moving forward. Exactly

Zane Pexa (2m 26s):
That way we can just have a repeatable process and do it over and over and over again. Scale our marketing efforts to where we need to, and just stick to our process.

Edwin K. Morris (2m 35s):
So what is the most successful line of business you got cooking?

Zane Pexa (2m 38s):
Our target market is someone that sees the value in having a trusted advisor. So not everyone is meant to be a client, but someone that has a home, auto, maybe some toys, a small business, that’s our target. Someone that needs our help to navigate their risk, and doesn’t want to spend the time searching themselves and wants to have trusted advisor.

Edwin K. Morris (3m 0s):
So is there any niche that has popped up that you have identified?

Zane Pexa (3m 5s):
California home insurance is definitely a hot topic right now. So that’s usually what we lead with, even small businesses that are coming out of the pandemic as businesses start to reopen what I just, I think we’re still all trying to figure out what’s gonna happen. We, we, we’re very heavy on the restaurant, in the restaurant business and we’ve seen that that industry really kind of contract understandably so, but right now, California home insurance seems to be the hot topic, but as the ones calling us

Edwin K. Morris (3m 31s):
So out of all of the insurance options out there, what are you doing to be different than your competitors?

Zane Pexa (3m 38s):
I’m just trying to focus on championing the relationship and being there for our clients, being there from help them walk through the underwriting process, because you know, when you get a non renewal on your home insurance in the mail, it can be concerning causes some panic. On the flip side, if you get a, a, an insurance bill that, you know, last year, you were paying $2,000 a year for home insurance and this year you’re paying $12,000 a year for home insurance, that can be equally as concerning. So we’re just trying to bring all hands on deck and really championing that relationship. Treating every person liked a person, not just another application on our desks, even though we were seeing so many different applications right now, it’s just all about the relationship

Edwin K. Morris (4m 21s):
So in that relationship, does that garner a lot of a mentorship? I would have to assume if it’s that and I hate to say the word volatile, but it sounds a little volatile to me for that line of insurance. Is there, is there a part of this that is really just an educational process?

Zane Pexa (4m 40s):
Totally. So in our staff meeting right now, one of our big things as we listen, we educate, and we advocate. That’s what we are trying to do for our clients. We listen to them, figure out what their needs are. We educate them on what their options are and then we advocate with different underwriters. Or if we advocate even on a claims process, that’s what we’re focused on.

Edwin K. Morris (4m 59s):
Excellent. That sounds like a very comprehensive format and one that serves the client quite well. Tell me a little bit of the new opportunity with this new partner plan level you have with Iroquois.

Zane Pexa (5m 12s):
This goes back to what I’ve talked about before is, is the deepening of the relationship with my and that coming alongside of us and strengthened that partnership. And especially with, like I said, the nuances in California right now for carriers. I mean mine, part of our family here. And we just love the partnership that we have with Iroquois, because again, carriers are coming. There’s a lot of carrier differences in California right now. So just having, allowing him to handle all of that for us is a game changer,

Edwin K. Morris (5m 38s):
And researching your website, I saw something that was about cyber man 365. Can you talk about that a little?

Zane Pexa (5m 45s):
So it’s just an additional service that we can offer clients, obviously from the work from home environment that we’ve been in, cyber attacks are up. So we thought that when it happened, we would be that trusted advisor for them and cyber attacks are definitely on the rise. So being able to provide a solution for our clients to address that issue was important to us. So our team decided that that was something worthwhile for our clients. Does

Edwin K. Morris (6m 10s):
Does this opportunity in the cyber realm, a cyber threat, does that raise opportunity to partner with proactive protection? In addition to insurance?

Zane Pexa (6m 21s):
Exactly. It’s very similar to a Life-lock or the Experian’s, you know, a credit monitoring solution. There’s some other features that are available in there for full family and some of the additional features that might be more protection oriented than some of the other services out there,

Edwin K. Morris (6m 38s):
Are you seeing that as much as in the individual or a homeowner versus the, a small business, or is that across the board

Zane Pexa (6m 46s):
Cyber is definitely a bigger demand on a, the small business side, for sure

Edwin K. Morris (6m 50s):
And we’re talking ransomware too, right?

Zane Pexa (6m 52s):

Edwin K. Morris (6m 52s):
So anything to do with intrusion lockdown, stoppage of service.

Zane Pexa (6m 57s):
Yeah. So any, I mean, a cyber threat from a ransomware to cyber threats, to extortion, all of those things, are a definite real need. One of the largest insurance companies is the world just had a complex cyber attack against them and they were shut down for several weeks, that happened to them, that can happen to anybody.

Edwin K. Morris (7m 15s):
Tell us a success story from your agency, if you will.

Zane Pexa (7m 18s):
The success story that stands out the most was back in 2017. As an agency, we were just talking about our why. So this is kind of back to our why. In 2017, the Santa Rosa wildfires came through. Anyone who has been to Santa Rosa, it’s very suburban, and it’s not where you would think for a wildfire threat, and we had a client down there, a hyper successful individual, manages hundreds of employees, and his home burned down. So a few of our team members drove down and stood with him the next day, and just being able to stand next to him again, championing that relationship and being there for him, you know, it looked very post-apocalyptic because the sky is orange, it’s super smoky.

Zane Pexa (8m 2s):
And just being able to walk up to the, to the, the emergency planes RV that was there and just kind of just walk through that process with him, be there for him, take care of him. That, that, I mean, that’s kind of why we’re in business is to take care of people. A lot of times, myself included, brokers, agents will be into this mindset where it’s all about the next policy that we deal with, as opposed to these people are trusting us to make sure that they’re taken care of what may have something catastrophic happen. This is a hyper successful individual that normally has all of the steps in a row was an absolute mess that day, but we were able to come alongside him and, and take care of him. I mean, rightfully so, his whole world had just burned from the ground.

Zane Pexa (8m 43s):
So that’s a huge success story for our agency.

Edwin K. Morris (8m 46s):
Awesome. That sounds so meaningful. And as a consumer, that’s gotta be a bridge making opportunity to get them through a very traumatic experience, but definitely hold his hand through that process,

Zane Pexa (9m 2s):
Totally. Claims are where the rubber meets the road for the consumer on insurance. So how can we come alongside of you? A lot of people trust us as agents to take care of them because they want to make sure that when the unthinkable happens, that we’re there to walk through that with them and we’re advocating for them.

Edwin K. Morris (9m 18s):
What’s next?

Zane Pexa (9m 19s):
We’re continuing to scale our marketing efforts, continuing to refine our processes. We’re opening a new office here in the next three months, potentially we are going to start expanding outside of California, just to provide some stability in our book of business, because right now, California is definitely a little bit consuming. So which I love California, California’s home. It will always be home, but that’s kind of what’s next for us.

Edwin K. Morris (9m 47s):
Well, congratulations and much success to you, Zane. Thanks so much for being here. Thanks for listening to this edition of the trusted advisor podcast brought to you by Iroquois Group. Iroquois is your trusted advisor for all things insurance, and remember get out of the office and sell. I am Edwin K Morris, and I invite you to join me for the next edition of the trusted advisor podcast.