For this month’s “Agent Spotlight” feature, we spoke with Jessica Murillo-Clayton, co-owner of Classic Insurance Agency in Kenner. Read on for her thoughts about why honesty is the best policy and the agent’s duty to, “show the whole picture, not just the pretty part.”
Comp Blog: Tell us about your background and family.
Murillo-Clayton: My parents are both from Honduras and came to the United States at a young age, during their teenage years. Along with my brother, Tulio Murillo, we are both the first generation to live in the States. Our parents always kept us connected with our culture, heritage and traditional values.
My husband and I graduated from Grace King in 1994. Who would have thought that the boy I saw walking down the hallways in high school, with hair like Vanilla Ice by the way, would be the man that I’m married to today?! We are complete opposites, which is a good thing for us of course. Jason and I have been together for eighteen years now. We have two beautiful kids, Korrin and Sebastian, they are the highs of my life! My daughter Korrin is 16 and a sophomore at Ben Franklin. My son Sebastian is 11 and a 5th grader at Holy Cross.
I stay busy and am always on the go with work and the children’s school and after-school activities – not counting our three dogs, tortoise and Korrin’s smelly hedgehog. During my spare time I enjoy relaxing on my couch reading, preferably one by John Grisham.
Comp Blog: What does your work with Classic Insurance entail?
Murillo-Clayton: Classic Insurance was founded by my mom, Ruth Flores, and is reaching its twentieth year in business. Co-owned by my brother and I, we have three locations: Kenner, (our primary location) West Bank and New Orleans. Classic has a strong foothold in the local Hispanic community; about eighty percent of our clientele is Hispanic.
Every employee has an active role at Classic. Whether it’s to guide, assist and educate customers or to help out with non-insurance needs. My mom and Tulio handle commercial lines and accounting. She is the core of our agency and works relentless hours, she is such a blessing. Personally, I handle the personal lines side and manage the other two offices.
Comp Blog: What are your areas of expertise in the insurance industry here in Louisiana?
Murillo-Clayton: I started out as an administrator and progressively moved to personal lines. I also have a title company which provides same day title transfers for our customers. I am now slowly transitioning to commercial lines. My mom is soon to retire, probably in the next four or five years. I know that I familiarized with my current responsibilities and now I feel ready to take on new ones and further my career within the agency.
Comp Blog: How did you get into the insurance industry and why did you choose it?
Murillo-Clayton: Numerous times my mom had asked me to come and work with Classic, however, with school and the law firm I was working with, (Chaffe, McCall, Phillips, Toler & Sarpy) I just didn’t have time.
I had just finished my second year at Tulane University when the firm went through a transition and my position was eliminated. My brother reached out to me and convinced me to work “part-time” with him over the summer. I figured it couldn’t hurt, and as it turns out, once I walked in those doors I never walked out!
Comp Blog: What inspired you to stay after that summer?
Murillo-Clayton: I chose to stay because my customers humble me in so many ways, I’m able to empathize and sympathize with them. The majority of our clientele are blue collar individuals, ranging from non-standard to preferred market. Some are becoming acclimated to the United States and adjusting to the language barrier. I gain a feeling of joy and pride from my customers in light of my knowledge of their sacrifices and commitment to family and children. My parents did the same thing for Tulio and I, so I can really identify with their priorities.
Comp Blog: What are your main recommendations/key considerations for clients as they shop for their coverage?
Murillo-Clayton: I would recommend honesty upfront. There’s no reason to hide what you’re thinking or doing. Put your cards on the table and speak honestly so that we can find a solution that satisfies your needs.
Comp Blog: What should a client look for in their agent?
Murillo-Clayton: First, someone who takes the time to get to know them and learn about their specific needs and financial concerns. Second, a good agent has good listening skills. They have to be attentive and responsive and patient. It also helps to understand non-verbal communication cues. Overall, a trustworthy agent will not only present you with wide-ranging options, but they’ll also be able to point to the downside of each option. Your agent has to show you the whole picture, not just the pretty part.
Comp Blog: How do you differentiate yourself in service to your clients? What makes you unique?
Murillo-Clayton: I think I’m a hospitable person and it shows. I always find a way to relate to my customers and their family. We share stories, laugh, pray, and at times, cry with them. By expressing this camaraderie, our clients are comfortable and know that they are free to be at home here.
Comp Blog: Finally, what is your favorite thing about Louisiana (can be related or unrelated to insurance)?
Murillo-Clayton: Being from the New Orleans area, I love the life in this city. New Orleans is such a live and vivacious city filled with so much culture and history. Always something or a reason to celebrate. I enjoy going to festivals and concerts or to see a traditional brass band or watch a second line or shop for novelties on Frenchmen Street. With Mardi Gras especially, parading Uptown or in the Marigny/French Quarter is so exciting. Plus, New Orleans has an obvious abundance of good eating. I eat as much crawfish and raw oysters as my stomach can handle when they’re in season, with a cold beer of course. I believe I tell myself at least once a month, “Monday, I’ll start my diet!”