By LOU WILIN
McCOMB — When he recalls his most rewarding moments in 57 years as an insurance agent, Ray Hoverman’s eyes well up in tears and his voice cracks.
“The most rewarding would be, settling a claim where somebody had a huge loss. Their premium might have been a hundred dollars, and they might have collected $50,000,” he said.
“When you walk in and say, ‘Here’s your check.’ And you think, ‘Thank you, Lord, that I got (the client) enough coverage.’ I could have told them $25 (for the premium) … But I stretched them to where they belong.”
Many people reduce their insurance coverage in order to save on premiums, he said. That can be the biggest mistake a person ever makes, said Hoverman, who retired in January.
He has turned over Hoverman Insurance Agency, in McComb, to his son and daughter-in-law, Greg and Mary Hoverman.
Hoverman, 85, saw his share of homes destroyed by fire over the years.
He got a phone call from a client about 11 p.m. one night years ago, asking Hoverman to come to his house because he needed to make a claim.
“Jumped in the car, went over there and they had every fire engine sitting all around the house,” Hoverman said. “And he comes up to me. He handed me his policy, wanted to make sure he got it to me, that same night.”
Hoverman, at a later date, delivered a check to that man for the full replacement cost of his house.
He started selling insurance with encouragement from friends. He had been working as an accountant for Marathon Oil and later became a supervisor. A friend from his church suggested he consider selling insurance because a Findlay agency was looking for agents.
Hoverman took classes from a Findlay insurance agent for about a year before getting his license. He was offered a job at the Findlay agency if he would agree to quit his job at Marathon within two years. Hoverman refused. At the time, he thought that was the end of his idea of selling insurance.
But a family member, who had a full-time job and sold insurance on the side, encouraged Hoverman to do likewise.
Shortly after that conversation, the same family member told him an insurance agency in McComb was for sale. Hoverman bought it.
So a new way of life began for the Hovermans. Ray worked at Marathon by day, and sold insurance by night and on his lunch breaks from Marathon. His wife, Mary, was at home with their four children, and she minded the home office during the day.
In the mid-1980s, Ray was laid off from Marathon Oil.
“I had this feeling all along that something was going to happen at Marathon,” he said. “There was talk of cutting back.”
But Hoverman said it was a time of excitement, not dread.
“I had another job to look forward to,” he said.
The insurance business grew steadily every year, he said. In 1989, the Hovermans moved the insurance office to a downtown McComb building.
Hoverman said the insurance business was not difficult for him. In fact, he didn’t consider it to be work.
“I enjoyed it. I enjoyed meeting people, enjoyed doing that and it was no work for me,” Hoverman said.
Wilin: 419-427-8413 Send an E-mail to Lou Wilin
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