Thornburgh finds ways to survive and serve during crisis
When the state’s shelter-in-place order went into effect nearly two months ago, the Thornburgh Insurance Agency – one of the island’s oldest – had to make some quick adjustments.
“We had to downsize our business to keep everyone safe and our agency operating as an ‘essential business,’ ” recalls Rachelle Thornburgh, an agent/broker and daughter of co-founder Carol Thornburgh.
In the past, the small independent agency, located in an old home on Ericksen Avenue, operated quite comfortably by using email and phone connections with customers, along with occasional face-to-face interactions. The latter practice, in particular, came to a screeching halt in early March when Bainbridge began to hunker down in the wake of Covid-19 proclamations.
So far, though, the shut down hasn’t been too impactful on the small agency.
“I’ve had clients drop off signed forms in our outdoor mailbox, wave at me through my window; and I even found a thank you ‘for your great work’ in the form of a beautiful Flowering Around orchid a client left outside the office door,” says Thornburgh, with a smile.
One area where the agency is seeing a difference is in the decline in auto claims since commuters began staying home. As the pandemic took hold, the Washington State Insurance Commissioner “strongly urged” insurers to credit premiums back to their customers, Thornburgh says, and each company then announced plans to help clients.
“I immediately took this as an opportunity to touch base with as many clients as possible – posting a blog on our web site (thornburghinsurance.com) – making phone calls, and emailing to let them know that our agency is here to continue serving their insurance needs and to provide whatever additional help is available,” Thornburgh says.
“The companies have been very supportive, which in turn, allows us to help our clients get through this financially devastating time,” she adds.
Thornburgh says that on top of automatically crediting premium(s) back to the insureds – for at least a percentage of two months of premium – “no one faces cancellation due to non-payment of premiums, all late fees are waved, and we can easily request a bill’s due date be extended to help ease the current financial burden unemployment has caused.”
Separately, Liberty Mutual/Safeco Insurance offered its agents an opportunity for grant money to go to an organization that supports those in need due to the financial burdens of COVID-19.
Carol Thornburgh, a longtime supporter of Helpline House, applied for the grant on behalf of her agency and says, “Helpline House will receive $5,000 directly from Liberty Mutual/Safeco Insurance to help our community-at-large during this difficult time.”
“I am thankful to be in a business deemed ‘essential,’ says Rachelle Thornburgh. “This has given me a sense of ‘normalcy’ in such an unprecedented time. To have the support of insurance companies to offer our clients financial relief during this economic crisis makes my job feel more meaningful than ever.” (thornburghinsurance.com)
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