Wausau Pilot & Review
Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing email@example.com.
This week’s featured Wausau-area business is Senica Insurance, a local agency that serves customers throughout central Wisconsin. Founder and owner Senica Omernik, a Rosholt native, said living in a small town instilled in him the morals, values, manners and work ethic that are the backbone of an honest, reputable insurance agent. That, combined with his curiosity about the many facets of the insurance business, nudged him toward a career in helping his neighbors and the community, especially during the times they need it most.
Omernik opened his agency in 2005, offering independent insurance products for home, auto, life, business, farm, recreational vehicle and everything in between. He also offers umbrella insurance as well as coverage for contractors, truckers, and – in the last couple of years – food trucks, bars and restaurants. The food and beverage industry is especially in need of support today, he said, which led hem to work with companies that specialize in that type of coverage. For Omernik, coming through when someone files a claim is beyond rewarding.
“It is in those moments that we change peoples lives,” he said. “I’ve seen adults cry when they receive their coverage check. The amount you receive doesn’t bring back the memories and sentimental value of what you’ve lost, but it definitely helps you rebuild. We build polices to protect you and your family’s future.”
Here, he talks about what he and his coworkers, Anya and Jenny, wish more people would know about insurance – and the pride they take in serving the members of their community by protecting the things they hold most dear.
“It’s my core personality to give 110% on everything I do, whether it is business or pleasure,” he said.
Tell us a little more about yourself. What do you do when you’re not working?
I was born and raised in Rosholt. Now, I have a place in the country where I live with my dog Cletus, and have a few acres of crops to tend “in my spare time.” Health, working out and running is a large part of my life and I’m currently training for a marathon. My first favorite fall hobby and passion is hunting whitetails. When possible, I also love watching my nephews play football and baseball. Last – but not even close to least – is my need for adventure and travel. Classic cars have also become a passion of mine. Learning about them has led me down a natural path to insuring more and more of them.
You’re an independent insurance broker. Can you explain what that means, and why you believe in this type of approach for insurance products?
An independent insurance broker is just that. We shop the companies for you and find the best fit for many different reasons. It’s exciting to gather all of the information, send it to our companies and wait for the coverage and rates to come back. It’s always been important for me to provide my customers the coverage, pricing details, and claims service as soon as possible. Building my business from the ground up allowed me to have an agency that does just that.
Let’s face it, not everyone is excited about a visit to their insurance agent – and some people skip that and buy online. What makes having a personal agent so valuable?
Not just having your own agent, but choosing the right one is so important. I could talk all day on this matter, but I would say this: If you find a good agent, they should be able to get you a better price and policy than something you found online. I think there’s much more accountability doing business in your backyard, too, when you’re accountable to your friends, neighbors and community members. You don’t get that buying insurance online. Knowledge is power, and with 15 years of experience comes a lot of knowledge.
I invite anyone to have my team review a policy bought online and give our recommendations. I’ve seen some really awful policies come into my hands from online companies. What’s really sad about that is that most times the customer has no idea they aren’t adequately protected. It’s even worse when they only find out after a claim. I like to provide peace of mind, and as they say, that is priceless! I truly believe it’s in a customer’s best interest to team up with a knowledgeable, local insurance agent. There are many benefits to that.
What do you wish more people knew about insurance?
I wish more people had my experience dealing with bad times, difficult situations when you really need that insurance policy to come through for you. I have learned so much from my experience in this business and I’ve seen a lot of claims. Early in my career, I increased all of my parent’s coverage levels. Two years later, they had a bad fire. They still thank me for examining and adjusting their coverage, which resulted in about a $50,000 swing for them.
Another personal situation I’ll share happened when my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. For a year, we went back and forth to discuss a life insurance policy for her and her husband. I’ve never been a “pushy” sales guy. I don’t think people make good decisions under high pressure, although I’ve learned it’s part of my job to push a little harder occasionally when it’s best for the customer. That same sister walked into my office and told me she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She cannot buy that life policy now. I still wish I had pushed harder on that one. But it was definitely a learning experience for me and has made me better agent. I strive to become as knowledgeable in this industry as possible.
What is the most challenging part of your job?
This is an interesting question.
Needing to see the present and the future at the same time is a daily challenge. Every insurance case that comes through Senica Insurance has a set process. We gather the information, then my team and I get to work. Anya gathers most of the information and all of the details we need to present the best possible outcome for our clients. Her insurance intelligence and ability for forward thinking is a huge asset to this team. After she does her magic, I review all the information she gathered, and look at the customer’s current policy. Thinking that all insurance policies are the same is a grave mistake, especially in today’s world. I’m seeing more clients coming to my office who truly need additional coverage. Without extensive insurance knowledge, that need would go unchecked.
Once evaluated, customer information goes to Jenny, who seeks out quotes from multiple companies. She has over 25 years experience in the industry and with numbers, which is a crucial skill set to have. After she collects all the data, I will review it all and discuss the possibilities with our clients. We take great pride in sending well-written policies out our door.
At the end of the day, what makes you proud of what you do?
We really enjoy getting to know our customers and building new, long lasting relationships. I’ve modeled this agency with a vision of being a substantial part of my environment. During my years in the business, I learned a lot by watching how Jim Nick ran his business, which was based on relationships with people who love and respect him. As a result, I have moved my agency in the direction that he did, and I’m proud of that. His community involvement, giving back and treating customers like family made him a great agent, exceptionally good for the community. My hat is off to him and I wish him all the best in his retirement. Those are the types of people I’ve paid attention to and took lessons from.
To be honest, it’s the 100 small things done on a day-to-day basis, going the extra inch for our customers, that make me feel very proud.
What is the best thing about doing business in central Wisconsin?
It’s where my and my team’s roots are.
When you do business in your home it makes you work harder. We know our customers and we care about keeping them as safe as possible. I think central Wisconsin is the most beautiful place to call home. I love the people, weather, terrain and the over-all feeling of community.
We really take great pride in what we do. We take even greater pride in doing it right the first time. It’s exciting for my team to be growing as fast as we are. It’s a pleasure knowing we offer a much needed service to our local community. I look forward to many more years of doing just this.
We truly are a brokerage company. We send your insurance to our carriers. It’s exciting to see what each company will offer and at what price. I think when you decide to make a career out of being an insurance agent, it also makes you think of the long term relationship with the customer. I’ve seen a lot of agents come and go in this industry, but for me, this is my livelihood and passion.
I take my job as seriously as an attorney should in a legal matter. In most cases, we’re trying accomplish the same thing: protect you and have your best interests with legal documents and contracts. From start to finish for a home, auto or business you are probably looking at over 100 variables that could change your needs. It’s our job to get you through this confusing insurance landscape.
The only way for you to really find out what makes Senica Insurance different is to contact us for a free no obligations review. I encourage you to read our Google and Facebook reviews. Don’t just take our word for it. Read the words of our customers.