Angel Bueno is an insurance agent with John Galt Insurance here in Tampa, Florida. Insurance can be a boring subject for most of us, but when it comes to homeowners and automobile insurance, you need to have coverage. And not just any coverage! The correct coverage for your current time in life. That’s where Angel’s approach creates tons of value for his customers. He gets to know the people he works with so that he can better understand what type of coverage will suit them best. Angel wants to ensure that his customers are educated on their options and choosing the best options for their currents needs. We talked about this and what’s it been like opening an insurance agency during 2020 in this episode, so tune in and learn more about our favorite topic… insurance!
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Angel Bueno | John Galt Insurance
In this episode, we sit down with Angel Bueno, an insurance agent at John Galt Insurance here in Pinellas County, Tampa Bay area. I’m super excited to chat with Angel and explore his approach to insurance. It can be a tricky and boring subject but it’s something that everybody needs, whether home or auto insurance. We all need to have insurance and be informed on what type of insurance we have. Angel does a great job of doing that, making sure that his clients are informed and making the best decisions for them. Let’s jump into it.
Angel Bueno, I appreciate you jumping on the show and doing this. We met and chatted on the phone a little bit before. I’m excited to explore the conversation, get to know you a little more, and share your story. Why don’t we start by telling everybody about who you are and what you are about?
Thank you for having me, Donnie. I’m excited to be here and about what you are doing with the show as far as helping put Palm Harbor on the map and connecting the community with other local business owners. I am an insurance agent. I partnered with a new franchise called John Galt Insurance, but I have been doing insurance for years now. Insurance is one of those things I never imagined myself doing.
I didn’t wake up one day and say, “I’m going to be an insurance agent.” The opportunity presented itself. It’s funny how it happened. Years ago, an old manager that I had, we were in the automotive industry together, and he gave me a call, “I’ve got a great opportunity for you, come meet with our HR manager.” I said, “Sounds good. What’s the job?” He’s like, “Do you trust me?” I said, “Yes, but I would like to know what I’m walking into.”
Opportunities present themselves in the most weird times.
He goes, “Trust me. It’s going to be worth it. Meet with her.” I went and met with the HR manager. She says, “This is a job helping our other agents quote insurance.” I said, “I don’t know anything about insurance.” She’s like, “Don’t worry, we will train you. If things go well, we will get you licensed.” We talked more about the logistics of the company. In the automotive world, you work a lot. My parents always instilled a hard work ethic in me but you are working weekends and holidays, and she’s like, “You will have weekends and your holidays off.”
I’m like, “Where do I sign? Let’s do this.” In all reality, getting to the insurance industry and the career path it allows for, I’m like, “This is something that I can see myself doing.” Not that selling cars wasn’t fun or anything but long-term, it painted a big picture of where I wanted myself to go when I saw myself building that and my family. I’ve got involved, and three months later, I’ve got licensed. In 2019, I was 1 of 2 agents selected to participate in this leadership program. They select two agents in the State of Florida and from throughout the country as well as a few others.
I flew up to Connecticut, and travelers insurance hosted this. I met with other leaders and insurance agency owners. I saw their success and how excited they were to be in this type of business and have the opportunity to get a different perspective of the insurance industry. I was like, “I never had any second thoughts but this is what I want to do. I want to start figuring out how to take that next step, have my own agency, and become an agency owner.”
First of all, it was not cheap. There are a lot of options out there, so the wheels are turning in my head. I’m looking at franchises as far as the traditional route. They want a lot of capital, upfront fees, and costs. As a 25-year-old at that time, I didn’t have that. I’m like, “This is not going to work.” I looked at options of starting my own independent agency and what that would look like. They were more affordable but also a lot more time-consuming. In order to get contracted with these carriers, if I wanted to represent Progressive, Travelers or Liberty Mutual, they want agencies that have already been in business for quite an amount of time and have a specific production outlook.
I’m like, “I can do this but I won’t be able to get to where I want to be in 2, 3 or even maybe 5 years,” and then COVID hit. We were in 2020, and things are going crazy. We’ve got a political election going on, and I’m the least political person ever but I’m like, “Is this the right time to make such a drastic change in life?” I’m comfortable, and I’m doing good at my agency. Again, these opportunities present themselves in the weirdest times.
The CEO of this franchise reached out to me on LinkedIn. We connected and talked a little bit. He presented a few ways to start an agency without having to come up with all these franchise fees or upfront costs. I’m like, “This is too good to be true. What’s the catch?” He’s like, “There’s no catch. You partner with us. We want all of our agents to be successful, so we will help guide you through the process of owning your own agency. We will support you 100%, train you, give you the support you need and the customer service team. You focus on relationship building and growing your business.”
Even then, it was still a little scary as a 26-year-old trying to figure out, “This is the time for me to start a business?” There’s a pandemic going on, and I’m good where I’m at. Jumping out of that comfort zone has always been something scary for anyone to do. I read something online that said, “You don’t regret the choices you make. You regret the ones you don’t make.” As I’m going through everything, that hit me.
Did you read that during those times?
During the time I was scrolling through Facebook, and someone posted that quote, I was like, “This is for me.” I took the leap of faith, and it has paid off. It’s hard work, for sure. Being in the insurance industry, a lot of people don’t fully understand what insurance is or what it fully covers. Being that person to help them out has been fun being part of that.
Let’s go back to the thought of having your own agency. I’ve got a couple of questions. Where did the thought of like, “I want to be a business owner. I want to own my own agency,” come from?
My parents came here from the Dominican Republic. We grew up in New York City, so we know the fast-paced environment. I have always had that ambition in me to want to do my own thing. I didn’t want to work for people. Growing up, I was knocking on doors, “Can I pull your weeds? I need to make a quick buck. I want to go buy a new game for my PlayStation.” My parents always supported that 100% like, “If you want something, go out there and get it.”
Growing up, I was always in that type of environment, having a solid foundation of a support system of people always pushing you, and you see what’s attainable. I was always pushing for that. I’m like, “I enjoy helping people. I love working for corporations.” I knew that there was something more, and I wanted to do this for myself. I want to make a mark in the community one way. That way seemed to be having a business, doing things like this, and connecting with other people.
The insurance ties in because that allows you to be one-on-one in helping people.
I’m not a GEICO. I don’t speak in a British accent. I’m not Jake from State Farm. They are all great characters but that’s what they are. The part I like most about insurance is truly taking the time to speak with my clients and not only inform them on what coverage they should have but understand their needs. You might need certain insurance, and I might need something different but everyone out there doesn’t need the same type of insurance.
Taking the time to understand what they need and providing them with an array of different options to ensure that they, their family, and their assets are protected is the part of insurance that I enjoy doing. If someone starts asking me questions, they are like, “We are sorry.” I’m like, “This is my job. This is my favorite part. No one likes talking about insurance but I do. That’s my thing.” That’s how that came along.
I want to talk a little bit about your approach. The idea of like, “I want to understand what it is you need at this point in your life.” Life has cycles, and in each cycle, you need something a little bit different depending on where you are at. That’s what sales are all about. Instead of like, “I have this product. I want to sell it to you.” It’s like, “I have all these products. Let me figure out what it is that you need, and then I will match you up with what I have that’s best for you.”
You see it all the time on commercials or ads, “You can get insurance for X amount. Everyone is great.” That might work for someone, and they can get that great low price but that coverage that’s being advertised might not be the coverage that’s going to benefit you. You never want to paint a scary picture but truly tell someone why you need this type of insurance.
In the worst-case scenario of claim or loss, I never want any of my customers coming back to me and saying, “Angel, I wish I would have had this on my policy. I wish I would have known better what this coverage meant.” Truly taking the time to understand my client and where they are at in life plays a big part in insurance altogether, whether it’s auto insurance, home insurance or liability insurance, everything plays an important part in what type of insurance you buy.
Is there something that everybody should look out for or be aware of when they are shopping for homeowners insurance?
It’s a tough question because there are a lot of different aspects to it. First of all, you want to make sure you are constantly reviewing your policies because just as things change in your life like if you renovate the kitchen or get any type of renovations, you are adding value to your property. Most people don’t think, “Let me call my insurance agent and let them know I’ve got new cabinets installed or redid my floors.” You always want to make sure that there’s an open line of communication between you and your agent but outside of that, don’t just go for the first option.
Price is important. I understand that but I would always make sure my clients have to pay a little bit more to make sure that all their needs are covered. I would always present that option to them, and I’m still going to present to them everything else that’s available. Understand that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to insurance. There are so many different aspects of it.
On the home insurance example, you might have bought your house for $150,000 because it was a great market, and there were plenty of houses to choose from but in reality, that house has a bunch of upgrades inside. If there’s a pool, screen, shed, and fence, all those play a part in the coverage you should be getting or how much coverage you should be getting. I know it’s a hard question to answer since there are such a lot of moving variables in it. Make sure that you are doing your due diligence and research, and not going with the cheapest option that’s out there.
Having that communication with the insurance agent is important. Not like, “I’ve got insurance, I’m good,” but continuing to stay in touch with them. How often should they be communicating? Is it every year? The policies are a year.
I don’t expect them to be reaching out to me every year. It’s my job as an insurance agent. I like to do follow-ups, I don’t want to say I’m bothering them too much but whether it’s their birthday or holidays, I will touch base with them, “Has anything changed? Congratulations on the new car you bought. How’s it going?” I am having conversations to see if any other needs have come up. The insurance industry as a whole is pretty insane, and being there to be able to help my clients and truly make sure that they know what’s going on is important to me.
The rates have been increasing in the State of Florida. Can we talk about that and your perspective? What you are seeing on your end?
It’s the number one question I get all the time when I call anyone. It’s like, “Why is my insurance rate going up?” In Florida specifically, there’s a huge issue with insurance fraud. All throughout the state, it’s companies going out there and trying to replace your roof, even though your roof doesn’t need to be replaced. There are a lot of different aspects to it.
Insurance companies are prepared to pay justifiable claims but when they have a bunch of claims arising from instances they didn’t put into their projection, that affects everyone. It’s not a matter of, “I never had any claims. I’m crystal clear. I should never have a rate increase.” Unfortunately, because so many people filed X amount of claims, now the insurance industry as a whole needs to take that into effect.
There are 80 or more different home insurance companies in Florida to work with. Every one of them has their own different guidelines that they play by, whether it’s the age of your roof, how big your house is or how much it’s worth. There are a lot of different options out there when it comes to that. If your rate is going up, let’s make sure there’s nothing else better out there for you and make sure to explain, “It’s not you.” There’s a larger issue. Unfortunately, it’s out of our hands, so there’s better legislation out there to help control ongoing scenarios with insurance fraud.
Jumping out of that comfort zone has always been scary for anyone to do, but you don’t regret the choices you make. You regret the ones you don’t make.
Do you see the rates continuing to increase over the next couple of years?
In the short-term, yes. There’s legislation going on now to try to stop a lot of the fraud going on or at least a way to control it a little bit better. There’s a lot of competition, so there are always going to be some options for most clients to choose from. I’m not going to be that agent that says, “Your rate is going to go down. Maybe next year, we will save you some money.”
I’m a pretty straightforward person. I like to be honest with my clients. You are never going to hear from me that your insurance is going to go down. If it goes down, we are all jumping with joy but outside of that, I would tell most people to expect prices to start going up and make sure you have an agent to work with to at least provide you with some options.
I have heard this stuff about the roof where they are replacing roofs or roofing companies coming out and saying, “We can get this covered by your insurance company.” Is there any other part of it?
Roofs are pretty much the major part of it. As things evolve, it has been the main thing happening in the last years. As more claims arise, companies start to realize, “We don’t want any type of cast iron plumbing.” Now, all the companies are going to come out with new guidelines saying, “If you have cast iron plumbing, we are not going to accept you. You need to replace all your plumbing in your home,” which sometimes isn’t the cheapest thing to do. Fraud as a whole has different aspects of it but the roofing side seems to be the biggest thing now.
I have not dealt with it personally but I have heard of other situations where the insurance company, if a roof is fifteen years old or any older than that, it’s like, “We wouldn’t even insure it.”
With the new guidelines coming out now, I have had a handful in these past few months. They say it lasts for fifteen years, and that was before. Now, they are saying ten years, and some are going down to five years. A roof lasts way longer than five years. You get an inspection showing, “I have X amount of lifetime left on it,” but because of the fraud, the only way they see it possible to be able to take on these properties is to have a new roof. They are not expecting any client to come through. It’s crazy that’s happening out there.
People have to replace their roof to purchase a property, and the roof still has five years left on it. That’s always an interesting topic and ever-changing. Let’s go back into the business side of it and opening up your own agency. What is that like? What does it mean to have your own agency?
The whole journey so far has been extremely hard. It’s a lot of hard work that goes into it. Partnering with the franchises that I’m with has a very detailed training experience where they are hands-on and making sure that they are giving us all the tools that we need to succeed as an agent. On the day-to-day, it can get difficult dealing with things you don’t expect going into a business for the first time. It’s the simple things like insurance carriers, “We have these guidelines now. You can’t do this anymore.” I’m like, “This wasn’t happening before. Why do you have to do this when I’m starting my business?”
As an employee for a business, you don’t think of forming too many relationships out there outside of your clients. From a different perspective, going out there and even doing things like getting my name and my agency’s name out there is not what you would expect it to be. You want to create a Facebook page and, “Everyone come follow me.” It’s not as easy as that. It’s staying consistent and being confident in yourself because a lot of the distractions can put you down, and it’s like, “Did I make the right decision this?”
When you think about the big picture, at the end of the day, my wanting to start an agency wasn’t because of like, “Okay.” Insurance isn’t fun. It was more to be that voice in the community to be able to provide that knowledge and be as much of a helping hand to everyone, whether it’s a fellow business owner or whether I’m trying to connect you. I do personal lines insurance. A lot of times, if someone comes to me with a commercial risk, I love being that person to say, “I know this guy over here that’s great with commercial insurance.”
I’m that type of person. If I can’t help you, I’m going to try to find a way to help you one way or the other, even if that means connecting you with someone else. The insurance industry has a lot of waves to it. Me, joining and being part of this experience now is what accomplishes all my goals at helping people, being a business owner and part of a community now that I would never have been part of working your normal 9:00 to 5:00 for someone else.
It adds something a little more to the day-to-day and the connections that you are the resource. First off, it starts with insurance but outside of that, you want to have those connections as well. It’s the same thing with me in real estate and the show. I get to talk to people in other industries or other businesses that I wouldn’t usually talk to. To be able to do that, and then share that with people that I know is something that’s cool about the community and being a business owner.
Forming relationships like this, going out there, and meeting people is one of the things I didn’t expect going into being a business owner. It is part of it but it’s a fulfilling aspect of it like connecting with people, getting to know what they do, and starting conversations. For example, Essie Bergen, who you had on in the other episode. She’s an artist. I read the show. I’m looking through her work, and it connected with me.
I love her artwork, and I would have never come across her work if it were not for you having her on here. Now, we are connected and working together. It’s the little things like that. You never imagined it being part of what being a business owner is. You think it’s all about the day-to-day like, “I’ve got to make these projections and got to sell these many policies.” There’s way more outside of them and a bigger picture to it as well.
That’s the most fun part of being a business owner. It’s connecting and building those relationships.
Here in the Palm Harbor community, sometimes we get shadowed by our other local communities. Dunedin is up and coming, and they are way past that. You’ve got Clearwater and Safety Harbor. There’s a lot going on. We are right on 19. Having this format to do what we are doing here helps put Palm Harbor on the map. It’s exciting what’s happening, the scene, growth, and the different businesses coming to the community.
Dunedin has a lot to do with that because Dunedin became what it is, and it’s still doing awesome things, and then Palm Harbor being right next door is like, “We need to step up.” Businesses are investing in Palm Harbor, too. That’s a big part of it as well.
When we moved here, it was a different scene even then, and it wasn’t even that long ago. Peggy O’Neill’s, that lot was empty right next to it where they are building the new two-story restaurant and offices area. Seeing the growth in that time, it’s like, “We are experiencing something here,” whether we would be the next Dunedin or whatever you want to call it, it’s a pretty cool time to be in this community.
What’s one of your favorite places in Palm Harbor that you have been to?
I will pick two because I don’t want to just pick one. My fiancé and I go to deBine Brewing multiple times a week. We have a drink or two, and they have a lot of cool events. They have a live stand-up comedy and open jam nights. That’s our little go-to spot where it’s like, “The day is over. Let’s go have a quick beer.” I enjoy going to Bogota Kitchen, the new Colombian restaurant that opened up. It’s good to have a bunch of different cuisine options where it’s not your typical burgers and chicken fingers. That’s one of our main go-tos. We love it all.
As you said, the variety like in Downtown Palm Harbor, there are 4 or 5 restaurants that are there. They are all completely different, and they are not like, “Let me get a burger and fries.”
They bring the community together, too. They always have light music going on. It’s fun. I used to live in Tampa before moving into Palm Harbor. I love Tampa. It’s a great place but it’s like, “We are going to go out. We’ve got to dress up. We’ve got to look at par. Go downtown and be in that whole scene.” Here is so chill and laid back. I can put on board shorts and a T-shirt, have some dinner and not feel like someone is watching me because I’m not wearing what I’m supposed to wear. It’s a great community.
At deBine, have you been to the real barbecue place they have?
We usually go on Tuesdays and Wednesdays when they also have the Spanish food truck guy there. We are a big fan of Johnny’s Table. When we go on the weekends, we will have some of the barbecue food they have there. I love that all the breweries around here have their scene as well and bring in different types of businesses, so they show out what they are good at.
The breweries are so different and unique in their own way.
We have the locals that we love but even in Dunedin, we are going to House of Beer, Cueni or Woodwright. There are so many. We love them all. Not saying that we are drinking all day, every day, but it’s fun going out to support the local craft brewery scene. It’s great tasting it because they all taste different, too. They are not doing the same thing. It’s a pretty fun community when you have them all together like that.
Angel, I appreciate you coming out here and jumping on the show with me. I hope people got some insight into opening up a business and more about who you are. How can the readers get ahold of you?
The easiest way is via Facebook and social media. You can find me at Insurance Corner with AngelI have all my contact information on there as well. As we are growing the business, we will eventually get a spot here locally where we will be able to open our doors up to the community. In Insurance Corner with Angel, I post a bunch of videos on there talking about insurance. It was great spending some time with you, talking to you, and getting to know each other.
Go check them out, and thanks again.
I hope you’ve got some value out of that conversation with Angel. I appreciate his approach and willingness to jump on the show with us. He’s big on supporting the local community and growing and building connections within the community as well. If you ever have any questions about insurance, no doubt, Angel will be there to answer those questions for you and guide you in the right direction on what’s the best fit for you and your situation.
Give him a call and let him help you out or answer some questions for you. Thank you so much for reading another episode. If you enjoyed what you have read, then do us a favor. Hit that subscribe button on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Deezer, or Youtube. If you want to read any of our other previous episodes, you can head on over to our website or sign up for our newsletter at PalmHarborLocal.com.
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