Established in 1971 in St. Louis, Missouri, RT Thomas Insurance is a minority- and woman-owned agency, led by Raina Walton (née Thomas) that is redefining industry standards.
Rooted in a philosophy of helping people, Walton spends a significant amount of time educating clients about insurance coverage. She aims to turn every policyholder into an empowered individual armed with the knowledge to make informed decisions about their insurance needs.
Building trust one client at a time
According to Walton, trust isn’t merely a buzzword—it’s the bedrock of the agency. Her commitment to transparency and client education has transformed insurance from just a contract into a relationship.
Before embarking on a career in insurance, Walton had studied to work in the medical field. In fact, she had been staunchly opposed to going into the family business. Despite that initial reluctance, however, she found her calling in insurance; driven not by financial gain, but rather by a genuine desire to help people: "My passion has always been in helping people. That's why I loved the medical field. But this field brings that opportunity as well," she says. Thanks in part to her leadership, this passion for helping people has carried through to the rest of the agency.
In an industry where jargon can alienate clients, RT Thomas Insurance ensures every client is thoroughly educated about their policies. "It's incredibly important for clients to understand what they're purchasing and how claims can impact them,” Walton says. She goes on to emphasize the added upside of client education: “Agents who focus on the education portion and building a relationship are the best agents."
The agency's commitment to education has evolved into building relationships based on transparency and mutual respect: “We build a lot of trust with our clients. Those we feel aren’t a good fit for the agency, we refer to a trusted partner; and we build on that trust through transparency. Trust and education are the goal of every agency; but we do an excellent job at it.”
After hearing repeatedly that clients had not been educated on their policies, Walton was determined that every employee at the agency would prioritize client education. She highlights the complexity of modern policies, the misconception that insurance covers routine maintenance, and the pressing issue of catastrophic losses, stressing the need for transparency and consumer education. “Insurance companies need to do their part and help agencies by changing the marketing and shifting the consumer's concept of what insurance should be into what it could be.”
Technology, expertise and the client experience
RT Thomas has adopted a strategic—and pragmatic—approach for the future. “With this hard market, we’ve been paring down who our target client is. We like to help people, but we can’t help everyone. Now, we’re focusing on who we can give the most value to—and who can give us the most value.”
Building on the foundation of personalized client relationships and a comprehensive approach to insurance, RT Thomas has embraced value selling. “You’re getting great coverage and a piece of us: our knowledge and insider information into the insurance industry. We’re offering not just policies, but a holistic understanding of insurance coupled with expertise.”
Walton has made sure to augment value selling with a seamless experience for agents and policyholders alike, by embracing the transformative power of technology. "I love technology. It can be good or it can be bad. And if we don’t prioritize it, we’ll fall behind,” she remarks, underlining the importance of embracing innovation while navigating its complexities.
She recognizes the potential of technology to enhance their services. However, Walton candidly acknowledges the challenges it presents, emphasizing the need to strike a balance:
“One thing that has changed dramatically over the years, is the number of carriers who have brought technology to market that they think will make agents’ lives easier, but hasn’t always. With all the bells and whistles involved, agents have to become insurance scientists.”
That's why Walton chooses to partner with insurance providers whose technology has had the opposite effect on agency business: “Openly is different in that their technology actually has made our lives easier.”
RT Thomas has found a way to leverage technology effectively, streamlining processes without losing the personal touch that defines their service. They are constantly tweaking processes to keep an increasingly complicated quote-to-bind process seamless. “For the consumer, it can’t look complicated,” she explains.
Fostering trust and commitment
In a competitive insurance landscape, RT Thomas Insurance stands apart as a beacon of transparency, trust, and client empowerment. Led by Walton's unwavering dedication to helping people, the agency has not only set a high standard within the agency but also reshaped the industry's perception of what insurance should be.
Looking ahead, RT Thomas Insurance embraces a future shaped by strategic focus and technological innovation. By honing in on clients who align with their values and adopting a value-driven approach, the agency ensures unparalleled service. In a world where complexity threatens simplicity, RT Thomas Insurance continues to thrive, offering not just policies but an invaluable blend of expertise, understanding, and genuine care to every client they serve.