As a second-generation State Farm Insurance agent, Mark Schanne says that customer service is the main focus of his agency. He believes that having a personal relationship with your insurance agent is critical to making sure you have the correct coverage.
“Today, we live in an online society,” Schanne said. “We do everything online, but one thing we should never purchase online is insurance, whether that is car, life or home insurance. Focusing on the price alone is a mistake most of the time. An agent can analyze your needs and create insurance policies that fit your specific situation. Just because the state has decided that $25,000/$50,000 is the right amount of insurance if you have a car accident does not mean it is the right coverage for you. You need an agent who can guide you through the policy, who will ask you if the amount of insurance you have will pay your bills and take care of your family.”
Schanne grew up in the Washington, D.C. area and graduated from the University of Maryland. His mother was the first female State Farm agent in the DC area. In 1985, a position came available in Milford for a State Farm agent and Schanne moved to the area. He and his wife raised three children, all of them attending and graduating from the Milford School District. Education has always been important to Schanne and he served for eight years on the Milford School District Board of Education.
“Milford turned out to be a great little town and we made it our home,” Schanne said. “We grew this business from zero. I was the third State Farm agent in town and we started out in a small building across from the bowling alley. We built our current building in 1999 because we needed additional space to serve our clients, and now we need even more. We have nine great team members who keep this agency running like clockwork.”
One of the challenges of his position is not making everyone happy, especially when he must inform a client that damage is not covered by their policy. Surprisingly, the most rewarding part of his job is delivering proceeds from a death claim.
“I get to keep a promise I made to take care of someone’s family after they are gone,” Schanne explained. “Taking a life insurance check to a family to hug them and love them during a difficult time in their life is so important. Other people are standing in line with their hand out, from the hospital, ambulance company, funeral home, but I get to hand them money that will take care of all that.”
Schanne pointed out that if someone is in a severe accident and must be airlifted to Christiana, the bill for the helicopter alone is $30,000. When he talks to people about car insurance, he asks if the policy they currently have will cover that cost, the other medical bills they will incur, their salary as they recuperate and more. This is the kind of service his agency provides as opposed to clicking and choosing insurance coverage on a computer. In addition, Schanne believes that too many people are underinsured as far as life insurance.
“Too often, I hear things like ‘Mom had insurance but we have no idea where’,” Schanne said. “Then, it is a difficult paper trail to try to figure out where the policy was and what it would cover. When you choose a life insurance company, you want one that will be there in 25 years when you need it. The Weiss Report can give you the financial strength of an insurance company and whether they have the assets to cover your losses.”
Schanne prefers to call life insurance “income replacement.” He explained that when a senior citizen passes away, their Social Security ends. This can lead to hardships for their spouse when they have depended on a second Social Security check to cover their expenses. Schanne explained that life insurance policies are creditor and tax free.
“I had a massive heart attack in 2009,” Schanne said. “As they loaded me in the ambulance, my only thought was that at least I had good life insurance to take care of my family. I knew that, monetarily, my family would be okay if I didn’t survive. GoFundMe is not life insurance. That is not what that site was intended to do. I see all the time posts about how ‘Billy had no life insurance so donate to his GoFundMe to pay for his funeral.’ Life insurance is not all that expensive. At the end of the day, no one gets out of life alive. If you wait until you are sick, you may not be able to get life insurance. It is not Obamacare; they don’t have to offer a policy to everyone. In addition, there are many living benefits to life insurance. You can use the cash value of some policies for emergencies. We also offer a “10 Pay” plan. At the end of ten years, you are done paying for your insurance but your family will have access to funds to cover expenses when you an emergency appears.
Schanne says that each day is different and that he loves the flexibility his career has given him. In one day he could be arguing about a bill that is not covered, then going to a house to review damage from a fire and settling a death claim. He enjoys the fact that he never knows what each day will bring and that he has surrounded himself with staff that love people. Schanne’s staff has a combined 120 years of experience in the insurance industry. He admits that being an insurance agent requires a significant amount of education, pointing out that he will be required to get another license when State Farm begins offering financial products in the near future.
“This town allows us to succeed,” Schanne said. “I am awfully proud of what my team does. I basically let them run everything now. Our office performs at a high level for State Farm. In fact, we received the Million Dollar Roundtable (MDRT) Award and were the first in Delaware to earn it. We have also earned the Life Travel Award 28 times. We have a lot to be proud of and I am grateful to the citizens of Milford who continue to put their trust in us and allow us to continue to grow.”
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