Linda Folger has over thirty years in the insurance industry under her belt. She is the Founding Partner and owner of TriSure Insurance, one of the Triangle’s largest independently owned insurance brokerage and consulting firms. Prior to TriSure, Folger owned Triangle Insurance together with her husband Cleve. That firm then merged with another to form TriSure in 1999.
Owning her own insurance firm was not a path that Folger originally saw for herself. In 1994, circumstances fell in place for both Folger and her husband to part ways with their respective jobs. When the company she worked for in Baltimore began downsizing, it encouraged the resident vice presidents, of which Folger was one, to think about acquiring their own insurance agencies.
Folger says the opportunity was enticing, but she had hesitation as well.
“I had run a major office and so the business expertise was there, but I was used to having a budget and knowing exactly what my salary was and being in a box,” she explains. “Cleve is quite the opposite. He’s very entrepreneurial. He doesn’t worry about that stuff. Of course, part of that is because I worry about it for him. But within two months, it was a done deal. It was a small agency, so it wasn’t a big deal to buy, but it seemed like a big deal to us at the time.”
TriSure is a full service insurance firm and thus the types of clients they work with are very diverse. The company offers a full spectrum of policies from professional liability insurance to employee benefit plans and has experience with an array of industries and company sizes ranging from small businesses to Fortune 500 Companies.
“We have the personal lines division which provides insurance for homeowners, automobiles, and all the things that people own,” says Folger. “And then we have a commercial division, which is where I pretty much live. We have the employee benefits division which provides the health insurance, disability, and all the things that groups need.”
Due to her high level of experience, Folger herself deals with the commercial clients who may require more attention.
“A lot of my clients are larger and maybe have a little more complicated business profile,” she says. “They may be involved in something that requires professional liability, directors’ and officers’ liability, all those kinds of things.”
Folger explains that TriSure is run with some guiding values which everyone in the company understands.
“The first one is honesty and integrity,” she says. “If you can’t trust and believe everything that your insurance agent says, then you’ve got a problem. Number two is professionalism and high-level customer service. That means if you have a complicated insurance issue, you put it in our hands and we take care of it, and you have complete confidence that we’re going to be able to do that.”
TriSure aims to become a trusted advisor to its clients and in order to do that, Folger says they have to do much more than just help people procure insurance.
“We need to help them evaluate all the risk that they are faced with as a business owner or as a home owner and as an employer and then help them determine what’s the best course of action in treating that risk.”
Tom Hayes, a safety expert at TriSure, has expertise in this area. Hayes spent many years working as the Deputy Chief for OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) of Eastern North Carolina. In his TriSure role, he visits clients to help them evaluate the risk factors in their organization and provide training.
“We’re involved in a host of activities that are really centered on risk management, rather than just simply procuring insurance,” says Folger. “We know we need to provide insurance, and we’re excellent at that, don’t get me wrong. But if that’s all we did, we’d be in the mainstream with all the rest of the insurance agents around, and that’s not what we do.”
Today TriSure has about forty-three team members on staff, and these folks tend to stick around. Dana Wilson, an Account Manager at TriSure for nine years, is one example. Folger describes Wilson as her right arm. Susan Cane is another loyal Account Manager who’s worked with Folger for thirty-two years total, ever since the day the company was bought, and for years before that when it was known as Triangle Insurance.
Folger describes the employee culture of TriSure as being very entrepreneurial.
“It’s composed of a lot of individuals who are very interested in achieving ownership, so those who are in sales capacities have that opportunity,” she explains. “They’re very focused and have a lot of initiative, so that sales culture is there, and that’s really what has allowed us to grow a lot. By the same token, we have people that are behind the scenes who really do the work. We are very blessed with the quality of the team that we have, and we do not have very much turnover.”
Folger says that attracting new business can be difficult in the current economy, especially since many of their clients are in the development or construction industries which have been hit hard.
“So we’ve got to diversify our clientele and attract a lot of new clientele just to stay leveled and that’s a challenge,” she says.
She is optimistic, however, about her company’s ability to adapt to the times. The future will include more diversification for TriSure as well as staying on top of patterns.
“I see us continuing to focus on some areas where there is economic growth, like health care. You know, the senior population is continuing to grow and so that’s an example of an area where we’re working.”