When do I have to buy insurance? Hometown-agent advantage over online

ST. GEORGE – To insure or not to insure may be the question in some cases, but in other cases carrying insurance is not just an option for the owner’s protection, it is mandated. Besides the widely publicized new federal mandates for everyone to carry health insurance, car owners and homeowners typically must carry insurance. So the option in those cases is not whether to buy insurance, but which and from whom to buy it.

Karl Thurman, President of Key City Insurance, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News
Karl Thurman, President of Key City Insurance, St. George, Utah, May 6, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer, St. George News

Car owners in Utah are required to carry liability insurance.  Cars that are being financed or leased may also require personal injury protection, uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage and collision and comprehensive insurance.  

Homeowners who are purchasing their home from a financial institution are required by that institution to carry homeowner insurance.

Insurance is that one product that we have to have but hope we never have to use.

Karl Thurman, president of Key City Insurance in St. George, agrees. “We sell one of the only products that you can’t touch, taste, feel or smell, and that you purchase but never want to use,” he said.  

Renters insurance gives needed protection

Renters are not required by law to carry insurance, but property loss can be as devastating to a renter as it can be to a homeowner. Without renter’s insurance and even adequate car insurance, losses to property can be difficult to recover from.

“If someone who is renting a home or apartment experiences a fire they stand to lose everything,” Thurman said. “Without renter’s insurance it may be nearly impossible to replace those items.”

Experiencing a fire is devastating. Homeowner insurance helps homeowners recover their house and helps to replace those personal effects that are lost. Often people who rent their homes don’t think about insuring the contents of the structure.

Renters may assume that their landlord’s homeowner insurance will cover their belongings in the event the home burns down. But homeowner insurance does not cover the contents of a structure that is used as rental property, and without renters insurance, replacement of the contents is solely up to the renter. While not required by law, many landlords require proof of renters insurance from their renters as a condition to the rental agreement.

It’s true that insurance cannot replace those personal items like photos, but it can replace the expensive items like electronics, furniture and clothing, Thurman said. The nice thing about renters insurance is that its not that expensive to maintain, but at the same time, can replace a lot of expensive items.

People who are insured through Key City Insurance receive 10 percent off of their auto insurance when they purchase renters insurance.  This discount practically pays for the renters insurance – Key City Insurance has renters insurance policies as low as $10 a month.

Key City Insurance is a family business

Thurman became president of Key City Insurance, located in California, when his father, the founder of the business, turned over control to him in 2008.

Wanting to move his family back to his Utah roots, the Thurman family opened a Key City Insurance Office in Provo, then another one in St. George and another in Salt Lake City.

While he appreciates that modern technology has brought the insurance company into the 21st century, Thurman said, he also likes to operate Key City Insurance by the same standards as his father did which includes providing personal service. Internet-based insurance companies have removed the personal service from the business, he said.

Personal touch

“If you call an Internet-based company to purchase a policy, you will never talk to that person again,” Thurman said. “If there is a problem with that policy, the next time you call you will have a different representative.”

Thurman provides personal service by conducting an annual review with each of his clients. Installing a pool, filing for bankruptcy and even getting a dog may justify a change in one’s policy. 

Thurman pointed out that national Internet-based insurance companies may not contact their client regarding a lapse in insurance until after the policy has been cancelled.

“If a customer’s policy was cancelled or about to lapse back then,” he said, “agents wouldn’t simply send a generic letter in the mail or an email, they would call their client and find out if there was a problem.”

Key City Insurance Agents take due diligence to make sure that their clients know if there is a possible lapse in coverage.

Key City Insurance, located at 393 Riverside Dr., St. George, Utah, May 6, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer
Key City Insurance, located at 393 Riverside Dr., St. George, Utah, May 6, 2014 | Photo by Rhonda Tommer

Key City agents have also developed close relationships with local body shops and other businesses in the community to ensure that their clients receive top-notch service. When one of their clients take a car in for repairs, there’s no red tape to cut through, but instead they receive the red carpet treatment.

Agents who work with Thurman also take pride in being involved in their community, with no dock in pay to the agent for participating during their normal work hours.

Key City Insurance agents do not earn a commission based on what they can sell. They receive a regular salary for work provided so there is no incentive to them to sell a customer coverage that is superfluous or impractical.

Technology tied to local service is best for customers

Personal contact is important to Thurman, but he also embraces the fact that technology has made working with his clients so easy.  By going to the company’s website a customer can make a payment, file a claim or make a policy change anytime – even at midnight, for example, if they don’t want to wait until the office is open.

Thurman uses email  to provide monthly informational newsletters and sometimes videos, including how to winterize your home for a big freeze or being aware of weather changes that may cause road hazards. For his customers who are not computer savvy, a physical copy is mailed out. 

My job is to cover a client when they have a claim. But another part of my job is to help my clients in a way that prevents them from having to file a claim,” Thurman said.

Reminding clients to take measures to prevent water pipes from freezing, or reminding them that the roads are slick when the first rain of the season comes, could prevent them from needing to file a claim, he said.

Key City Insurance is a brokerage firm. Thurman works with a variety of companies so he can offer his clients the best possible policies, but there is no brokerage charge to his clients.

“Some brokers charge a brokerage fee,” he said. “Our office never charges a fee, and we have the advantage of selecting the best possible program for our clients, according to their situation.”

When one of his customers files a claim, it is the one time he and his team have to be prepared to act, Thurman said. “But it is the one responsibility in this day and age that agents don’t want to have to deal with.”

At Key City Insurance Karl and his agents are ready and prepared to deliver, whether they are providing a quote, handling a claim or anything in between.



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