10 Years and Counting

10 yearsIn this day and age, not many people stay with a company for 10 years or more.  In fact, until now, neither had I.  So you can imagine when I received the notice that February 2014 was my 10 year anniversary with American Family, I was surprised (time flies when you’re having fun) and proud.

I started as an agent in 2004 and accepted a sales manager position three years later.  After six years as a sales manager, I returned to agency the Fall of 2013.  A lot comes to mind looking back on the last 10 years and I’d like to share my experience with  you.

I was first attracted to a career as an American Family Agent because of the opportunity to run my own business.  After many years in a corporate sales position with little control over my time and an ever-increasing gap between effort and reward, I realized I had the entrepreneurial drive to own a business.   In the role of an agent with American Family, not only do I control my time, effort and reward but just as important, I have the ability to provide superior products/claims from the best insurance company in the industry.

Not only was I happier in this new role but each year I received an added bonus of working with like-minded fellow managers, supportive company partners and motivated fellow agents.  Everyone I’ve encountered in the company, American Family Insurance, has the same focus:  Put the client and the Agent first!  The company’s sole purpose is to give the client the best experience possible as it pertains to the purchase & servicing of insurance products.

My time as an agency sales manager (2007-2013) gave me access to the inner workings and executive leadership of the corporation. The time spent working for the corporation was invaluable as it helped me understand who we are, where we are going and how important our clients are to the organization.  I had the opportunity to work alongside a team of talented sales managers (in Indiana and other sales states) as well as lead dozens of agency owners in District 556.

The opportunity to work once again as an agent, assisting current & prospective clients, has been the best part of this career.  Meeting with clients and learning about their families and understanding their story has been a privilege.  Our lives are so busy these days with work/family commitments.  I know that my clients need my agency’s advice and recommendations so they can make the best decision for their families.

I have so much gratitude for those that have helped me get to this point in my career:  My awesome wife, Shawna; my Parents; all the amazing mentors I’ve spent time with; and my past managers that gave me opportunities along the way.  All of these individuals helped me succeed in my efforts to be where I am today professionally (and personally).  I thank them for their support, encouragement, dedication, time and belief in me and the agency.  There’s so much heart and soul that goes into what we do every day and I hope you can feel that when you speak with me and Shannon.

I am optimistic for great things to come at The Patrick D. O’Brien Agency.  And those that know me well can hear my tone when I say, “I am pumped”!  Here’s to 10 more years!!

– Pat O’Brien
POB Agency

ps.  If you’d like to view American Family’s 2013 annual report, you can view it here.

8 Important Winter Driving Tips

Living in the midwest, it’s no surprise to us when it gets cold in Winter and snows.  But, currently we are experiencing extremely cold temperatures and more snow and ice than the past few years.

Follow these important tips from amfam.com to keep your car, and your passengers, protected during inclement winter weather.

Snow-covered highway during rush-hour1.  Keep your gas tank at least half full to reduce condensation buildup that can lead to gas line freezing.

2.  Charge your battery.  To start your engine in cold weather, you’ll need your battery to be in good condition and fully charged.

3.  Check your brakes Have a professional inspect your brakes to make sure they work properly and apply smoothly. Properly functioning brakes can prevent wheels from locking on slick surfaces.

4.  Change worn windshield wipers and fill your washer reservoir with a winter solvent that won’t freeze.

5.  Keep tires inflated Under-inflated tires can be dangerous. And the air pressure in your tires will decrease 1-2 psi for every 10-degree drop in outside temperature.

6.  Drive slowly When roads are wet or covered with snow, accelerating, stopping and turning take longer. By driving more slowly, you’ll have more time to maneuver.

7.  Increase your following distance On dry pavement, your normal following distance should be about three to four seconds. But on wet or snowy roads, you’ll want to increase this time to 8-10 seconds.

8.  Have an emergency kit in your car.

  • Blanket, warm gloves and winter hat – If you run out of fuel or if your battery dies, your  vehicle won’t be able to provide heat. A blanket and hat can help keep you warm  if you have to wait for help in cold conditions.
  • Chemical hand warmers – These small, inexpensive  packets are available at sporting-goods stores and provide instant heat.
  • Small folding shovel – If you get stuck in snow, this can help clear snow  away from your car’s tires.
  • Windshield scraper – Keep this handy at all times to  remove ice buildup from your car’s windows. A long-handle brush is also helpful  to remove snow.
  • Cat litter – Spread under your tires, this substance can help provide traction on slick road  surfaces.

One more important tip – keep your eyes on the road and distractions at a minimum.  Even if you are being careful, others around you may be driving unsafely and you need to be on high alert to react.  NO TEXTING while driving, please.  (Sending a text takes a driver’s eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds).

If you do have an accident, please contact us and call a claims specialist immediately at 1-800-MYAMFAM.


S.O.
POB Agency

Christmas Tree Fires are More Deadly than Typical Fires – Follow our Tips

The Christmas season has begun and it’s one of our favorite times of year.  Our Facebook news feed contains many posts of our friends’ beautifully decorated Christmas trees as well as pictures of them cutting their live tree at the Christmas tree farm.  We thought this would be an excellent opportunity to remind you of how to care for your live tree so it does not catch on fire.

christmasTrees are not a fire hazard if you take care of them, keep them watered, and decorate them carefully.  However, should the tree catch on fire, it is one of the most deadly fires.  In fact, one of every 66 reported fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in death according to The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).  The tree provides an unusually large amount of fuel leaving little time to get out of the house.  They are especially deadly if they occur at night when people are sleeping.

  • Keep the tree well-watered.  Check the water supply at least once a day.  Trees can drink a lot of water.
  • Use new or high-quality lighting.  Never use lights with frayed cords or worn connections.  Consider switching to LED (light-emitting diode) holiday lights. In addition to the energy and cost savings, LED lights are much cooler than incandescent bulbs, reducing the risk of fires.
  • Keep the tree away from candles and other heat sources such as a fire place.  (A heat source too close to the Christmas tree started one of every five (18%) of Christmas tree fires from 2006-2010 according to the NFPA).
  • Turn off the lights before leaving home and before going to bed.
  • Dispose of the tree as soon as it feels dry.  Many cities, including Indianapolis and Fishers, will provide safe disposable sites for your tree beginning December 26th.  Big box stores such as Home Depot will also provide drop off sites.  (Do not burn the tree outside your home)!

In addition to our Christmas tree fire prevention tips, we also encourage you to review the following fire safety tips that pertain to this time of year (compliments of amfam.com):

  • Candles should be kept away from your tree and any flammable decorations and should be extinguished before leaving a room.  Candles are also a major cause of household fires during the holidays.
  • When starting a fire in your wood stove or fireplace, use hardwood logs cut the season before. Do not toss wrapping paper or branches from your Christmas tree into the flames because flash fires can result. Chimneys and wood stoves should be inspected annually for creosote and cleaned regularly. Stockings should not be hung from your fireplace mantle in the path of sparks and flames.  Home heating equipment, such as wood stoves, space heaters and fireplaces, cause nearly one-third of all home fires according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Inspect your lights before they go up to make sure they’re in good condition. Don’t plug too many into the same electrical circuit or overload extension cords. You should use no more than three light sets per extension cord. Unplug all lights when you leave the house and before going to bed.
  • Make sure everyone knows all of your home’s exits and you have a designated outdoor meeting place to regroup. If a fire does start in your home, stay as low as possible while heading for an exit to reduce your chance of smoke inhalation. If you do catch on fire, stop, drop and roll.

We wish a wonderful and safe Holiday Season.

Merry Christmas!

– S.O.
POB Agency