As one of many local businesses sponsoring the Beltrami County Relay for life happening tomorrow, we are pleased to display purple in our storefront this week. The annual Relay for Life will be held tomorrow, Saturday, July 8, at the Sanford Center, from 11am to 11pm. The event is loaded with fun and wonderful family friendly activities, food and inspirational ceremonies. You don’t have to be on a team in order to attend and participate; everyone is welcome!
The Beltrami County Relay for Life is an important local fundraiser for the American Cancer Society, whose mission is to free the world from cancer. Until this ultimate goal is realized, they fund and conduct research, share expert information, support patients and spread the word about prevention.
All of us know someone who has been through the terrible ordeal of cancer. Together we can make a difference! Join us in supporting this worthy cause.
We thought it might be helpful to assemble a list of the Home and Auto insurance agencies available to you as an insurance consumer in the Bemidji area. Obviously, we hope you will buy your insurance through us, but we also feel that you would appreciate an open and objective discussion of your options. Competition is a good thing, as it provides you the consumer the opportunity to review and decide who deserves your business. We encourage you to evaluate your options on the three aspects of good insurance value: price, coverage and relationship.
Local independent agencies
Independent insurance agencies have a great deal of flexibility in finding the best solution for your insurance needs, because we represent a number of different insurance companies. This allows the agency to deliver on price (by shopping among their carriers for you), coverage (by picking carriers and products that meet your needs) and relationship (as you can keep your current agent even if your current carrier no longer meets your needs). Pine Country Insurance is an independent insurance agency; but let’s introduce you to the others in Bemidji.
Insure Forward is one of the older and easily the largest agency in town. They were previously known as Insurance Placement Service or simply IPS until their purchase by Bank Forward approximately ten years ago. With their multitude of carrier contracts, large staff and breadth of knowledge and experience, they have much to offer, including great options for midsize to larger local businesses or insurance consumers with hard-to-place needs. They are located on Paul Bunyan Drive within the Bank Forward building and can be reached at 218-751-2330 or www.bankforward.com.
Risk Management Services of Bemidji (aka RMS) was the brain-child of local entrepreneur Matt Sparby, who hired Dan Posner as the first agent around a dozen years ago. Since then RMS has grown by leaps and bounds and gained a sizable market share in commercial insurance, as well as a decent personal lines presence. Much of this growth was organic, but it was also helped along by the acquisition of the local agency Beltrami Insurance Group a few years after their founding. Like Insure Forward, RMS has the size and scope to be able to handle nearly any type of commercial or personal insurance need. RMS is located in the Sparby Financial building across from the hospital on Anne St and can be reached at 218-759-1201 or online at www.rmsinsurancebemidji.com.
Another independent agency worthy of special note is Northway Insurance, which has been a staple on Third Street in downtown Bemidji for many years. It was started in 1985 by Steve North, and he grew it to be one of the largest agencies for his primary carrier in the state. In 2001 North added a second location in Park Rapids when he purchased a local agency there, which he later sold. Steve sold the Bemidji Northway location to two of his long-time employees one year ago. Northway of Bemidji and its three staff members offer a broad array of personal and commercial insurance products and can be reached at 218-751-0821 or online at www.northwayinsurance.com.
There are a number of other local independent agencies. Among them are older agencies (Bemidji Insurance Plus and Dale Schmidt Agency), new independent agencies with older roots (Truinsure - formerly the Ken Stone Agency, Security Insurance - formerly Insure North of Blackduck and Farmers Union Insurance – now a hybrid but formerly an exclusive agency) and new offices which have sprung up locally in recent years (Greater Midwest Insurance, Headwaters Agency and Big Horn Insurance Services).
Local exclusive agencies
An exclusive agency is different from an independent agency in that it primarily represents just one insurance company. While this obviously narrows the agency’s breadth of offerings, it also enables the agent to dig deeper and become an expert in the offerings of the company he or she represents.
Probably the best known exclusive-agency carrier is State Farm, who also happens to be the largest Home & Auto insurer in America. Approximately ten years or so ago, Sara Labraaten took over a local State Farm agency from a retiring agent and has since grown it into the second ranked State Farm agency in the country. In a recent Minnesota trade publication, Sara stated that her keys to success are simply practiced the well-known basics of hiring the best staff, marketing extensively and treating customers the way she would want to be treated. The Sara Labraaten Agency is located on Bemidji Avenue just north of Library Park and can be reached at 218-444-2400 or online at www.sarahsagency.com. The other local State Farm agents are long-time agent Mark Gazelka and newer agent Jake Blumn.
Another well-known local exclusive agency brand is American Family. Shannon Miller took over for a retiring agent several years ago, and has since built his business to the point of receiving top countrywide honors among all American Family agents countrywide two times in the past eight months. Miller & Associates is located in front of the Paul Bunyan Mall and can be reached at 218-751-5351 or online at www.agent.amfam.com/mn/bemidji/shannon-miller/. Todd Gabrelcik is the other local American Family agent.
Other exclusive agencies in Bemidji include Farmers Insurance agents Jerry Downs and Brad Caspers, Country Financial agents Chris Lehman and Scott Turn, Federated Insurance agent Mike Anderson and AAA agent John Kovach.
We hope that you have found this post informative and helpful in your review of your local insurance agency options. We've tried to make this list comprehensive; so please let us know if we unintentionally missed anyone. As always, we welcome your questions and feedback.
At Pine Country Insurance, we are proud to sponsor Loop the Lake again this year. This is fun, family-friendly activity consists of riding your bike around Lake Bemidji, with fun stops for food, music and more along the way.
The ride starts with a rolling start between 7:30 and 9:30am at the Sanford Center, where there is food and beverages, music, bike tune up assistance and much more. From there, bike over the Mississippi and along the Lakeside Trail past Paul and Babe and the BSU neighborhood and through Diamond Point Park. From there, you bike along lakeside roads around the northwest corner of the lake and into Lake Bemidji State Park. The last leg of the ride is on beautiful bike trails, through the scenic park and down the east side of Lake Bemidji.
Online registration is open through Wednesday, June 14 or at the event for an additional fee. Your registration includes all the food, music, beverages and fun!
One nice thing about this event is it is not a race, and you are free to ride at whatever speed you wish.
Whether you bring your family, a spouse or significant other, a friend or just yourself, plan to participate in this fun event coming up!
For more information and/or online registration, click here.
We were excited to receive the first place award by the Bemidji Jaycees for our Christmas storefront display. Our display depicts Christmastime in Bemidji in the 1930s, featuring a newly-constructed Paul & Babe, the Carnegie Library while still in use as Bemidji's library and a neighborhood with several homes, including an era grocery store with living quarters in the rear. An ice skater can be seen on frozen Lake Bemidji, while two sledders traverse the slope from the Carnegie down to Paul & Babe. Credit for the homemade construction goes to my wife Abbi Cobb and daughter Mara Cobb.
We welcome you to stop by our office before the end of the year, to check out our display and stop in for a Christmas treat.
Coverage of our first place finish by Lakeland News:
Photos of our holiday display:
This last summer, Pine Country Insurance was happy to again sponsor a baseball team through the Bemidji Youth Baseball program. Being active in the community is important to us, and congratulations to Team Pine Country Insurance for their hard work and achievements in the past season.
Ken Cobb is owner of Pine Country Insurance and has been active in the insurance industry for over 15 years. Meet Ken.
Coverage descriptions found in this blog are summaries provided for general educational purposes and cannot fully detail the terms, conditions, limitations or exclusions of a specific insurance policy. Please read your policy carefully.