Jacque Arreola Suzanne Wood

Agents and mutuals partner in customer service

“¿Quienes somos?”

Who are we?

That’s the question independent agent Jacque Arreola asks — and answers — on her insurance agency’s website.

It’s also a question she has asked herself. And the answer was Jacqueline Arreola, LLC, an independent insurance agency she and her husband, Temo, opened in Washington, Iowa, in 2018.

For Arreola, insurance is more than risk management and financial independence. It’s a way to make a difference in her community, to be true to who she is.

Before she opened the agency, she worked for nearly two decades in the financial sector, where she made connections with agents and learned about the insurance needs of people living in the small southeastern Iowa community.

She saw an opportunity. “I realized there was a need not just for someone bilingual, but someone who wanted to make a difference,” said Arreola. “These people want to be served.”

Arreola knew that to realize her dream she would have to do her homework. For more than a year, she researched and prepared for her opening day.

One of the first contracts she landed was with Farm & Home Mutual Insurance Association, a 145-year-old company also headquartered in Washington, managed by Suzanne Wood.

“We hit it off,” Arreola said. “They understood that I wanted to be on my own and that I wanted to help the community.” 

Protecting each other

“Our demographics are changing, but the needs are the same,” said Wood. “It's the same now as it’s always been in one way — people are working together to protect each other. It’s just different people. We have to adapt to survive.”

U.S. Census Bureau data supports Wood’s on-the-ground observations. In Iowa, the number of people who are from — or whose ancestors were from — Spanish-speaking countries has grown 20.6 percent to more than 182,000 people since 2010. And according to the 2018 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, home ownership among this group — 50.8 percent — in Iowa is higher than the national average.

“Jacque is continuing what we were already doing. Agents and policyholders both just want to know that we're doing what's best for them.”

Arreola’s agency has helped Farm & Home Mutual carry that message, growing its book of business and diversifying its policyholder base by bringing in Spanish-speaking customers that the mutual previously struggled to serve, in part because of the language barrier.

Whatever it takes

While Arreola acknowledges that being fluent in Spanish has given her an edge in building business, she credits success to her focus on service. She keeps hours that meet her customers’ needs, including late weekday hours and weekends and putting her cell phone number on her business card.

On a recent Saturday night, one customer — a Farm & Home policyholder — called her, worried about a water issue. So Arreola gave up her evening and went to support her customer. She took pictures of the damage and reassured the woman that everything would be OK.

“She was very happy,” said Arreola. “She felt like she was part of a family because I took time from my Saturday evening to go to her house and let her know that we’d take care of everything which, thanks to Farm & Home, we did.”

Arreola’s personal service made an impression on her customer.

“She’s one of my biggest fans,” Arreola said, “and recommends me to her all her family and friends.”

Partners in service

Arreola’s relationship with Wood is another key to the agency’s success.

“Suzanne and Farm & Home Mutual have been my biggest supporters since day one.” Arreola said.

“They are always available to answer my questions and our relationship is growing. I know that I can go there any time and find out what's going on or just get a cup of coffee.”

Wood values all her agency relationships, but she’s particularly excited about the partnership with Arreola’s agency.

“We are very supportive of Jacque because we know she will continue this relationship-building,” Wood said. “It's just very exciting that we can help her serve this underserved population. It's something we've thought about for a long time and the partnership is just perfect for us. It fits everything the mutual system is about.”

In turn, Arreola appreciates that Wood supports her and her focus on delivering customer service.

“When your focus is on integrity — helping your clients and being passionate about your why — everything else falls into place,” said Arreola. “If I did it, anyone can do it.”

Which fits her mantra nicely: “¡Sí se puede!”

Yes, it can be done!

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