Heath Ritenour is the CEO of Insurance Office of America (IOA), having assumed the position after his father, John Ritenour, retired in 2018. He has worked at IOA since graduating from college and after completing summer internships for the company. Heath Ritenour became the CEO of IOA in 2008 and now serves in both roles. His mother, Valli Ritenour, was also instrumental in launching and growing IOA.
The insurance industry experienced its share of disruption due to the coronavirus pandemic throughout 2020 and into early 2021. One thing Ritenour noticed right away was that people were driving fewer miles.
He also spoke with many multi-line policyholders who felt concerned they would not be able to afford their full insurance premiums due to the sudden financial stress they faced. Now that the threat of coronavirus is subsiding, Ritenour feels that some trends that have developed over the past year and a half are for the better and will continue.
Like many business owners, Heath Ritenour had to navigate the change from having most employees work from the office to working from home. Although he made the decision to go this route early on in the pandemic out of an abundance of caution, he felt pleasantly surprised by the results.
Ritenour feels a remote work arrangement is more efficient for his team and plans to continue offering it indefinitely. Working from home has made his agents more available to their clients overall. He also noted that having agents work from home saves IOA money on communications, travel, and utilities.
The most surprising trend of the work from home arrangement for Ritenour is that agents who travel to sell commercial insurance are also setting up offices at home. He has seen firsthand how having commercial agents work from home improves client access because they are not spending large amounts of time driving or at the airport. The savings on travel costs have been tremendous, sparking Ritenour’s desire to offer opportunities to work at home for both personal and commercial insurance sales agents.
Historically, the insurance industry has been hesitant to use new technology. Heath Ritenour noted how much this has changed over the past 18 months. He has personally implemented several forms of intuitive technology at IOA. The result has been that customers have improved access to information and the ability to access it in ways that are most convenient for them.
According to innovative CEO Heath Ritenour, the recent implementation of new technology has been a big improvement from the way most agencies operated prior to the pandemic. Agents often dealt with extensive, cumbersome paperwork that slowed the process of claims settlement for clients.
Even though operations processes were years behind other industries, most people with insurance-related jobs resisted updating the way they worked until the pandemic forced it on them. Now that agents are more open to change, Heath Ritenour plans to continue making IOA as efficient as possible.