Family Owned Business profile: AllRisk Auto Insurance

Stephanie Weagant, daughter of business owner Dawn Weagant, has taken over the daily operations of the business

Photo courtesy of AllRisk Auto Insurance

AllRisk Auto Insurance is an “all-in-the-family” independent insurance agency that started nearly 36 years ago. The company does business with several different insurance companies, helping customers shop around to find the best possible insurance rates for their unique situation.

Dawn Weagant, owner of AllRisk Auto Insurance, harnessed her entrepreneurial spirit to start the agency after being laid off from a previous job. Recently, Dawn also faced the task of training her daughter, Stephanie Weagant, to take over the company one day. Stephanie has now taken over the daily operations of the business, while Dawn works from home on taking care of the financial areas (taxes, payroll, health insurance, etc.) and also continues to give suggestions to Stephanie for ways to grow the business. Additionally, Dawn said she is about to get certified in Medicare plans (AHIP) so that they can start to offer that coverage to their clients.

Dawn and Stephanie Weagant are the mother-daughter team who own AllRisk Auto Insurance. Courtesy of AllRisk Auto Insurance

“There seems to be so much confusion on which Medicare plan to choose that I want our clients to be able to have someone to go to that they know they can trust,” Dawn said.

“We specialize in hard to place risks – too many tickets, no prior insurance, young drivers, etc.,” Dawn said. “We primarily write auto, RV, motorcycle and renter’s insurance.  But we have many companies available for most any risk.  I am very proud that my business has helped to raise several families over the years.”

Recently, Dawn said there have been a few changes with employees at the business – two of the gals who previously worked there had to move on, but she said they also just recently hired a new bilingual employee.

Dawn explains that being a family owned business is a key part of gaining people’s trust, especially in a world of large companies that have become less and less personal.

“We have gained a reputation of being honest and we truly care about our clients,” she said. “After so many years, they become like family. We insure the grandchildren of people that had insurance with us when they were young. Much of our new business is from referrals from someone who has been insured with us at some point in the past.”

Although she is now looking forward to taking over the family business, Stephanie said she hasn’t always felt that way. She said that in her 20s, the thought of working in an office doing insurance sounded boring. She liked jobs where she was up and doing things; she worked at UPS for seven years and became a driver, and was also Lead of Distribution at Danner Boot Company. Still, Stephanie said these jobs were always unfulfilling, and she always felt like she was replaceable.

“I had been talking to my mom about how I was unhappy in my current situation, and that’s when she asked if I would consider coming and taking over the family business,” Stephanie said. “It sounded like both a challenge, and a great move for my future, so I was up for the task and I am excited that I’m a part of a business that has been around to help the community since 1984.”

“I’ve actually enjoyed learning the business,” Stephanie continued. “Not only the insurance part, but the challenges of having to manage a team, the marketing, how websites and SEO work, and the importance of empathy and listening, just to name a few. I am very excited for the opportunity to take this business into the next generation. We have been a staple in the community for so long, and I am eager to be a part of growing the business for the next 35-plus years.”

Over the last three decades of being in business, there have been many memories made, including renting a houseboat on Shasta Lake with employee spouses and kids, and being chosen for an “office makeover” by a local television show. But through it all, AllRisk Auto Insurance has invested in building long term relationships that mean something to their customers.

“We have gone to weddings and funerals and done grocery shopping for some of our customers,” Dawn said. “We have sent money anonymously and loaned personal funds for their payments to some of our long-time customers in need. We truly care about them after so many years.”

Dawn said she knows that there are always some challenges to being a family owned business, including not being able to afford large advertising campaigns that bigger companies have in order to build enhanced name recognition. However, that isn’t necessarily a disadvantage. She believes that keeping the business in the family means they can keep connecting with customers on a personal level, and that kind of connectivity is something that is truly priceless.

Like almost all businesses in the country, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected day-to-day operations at AllRisk.

“We have all worked from our homes at times, so getting that all setup was a challenge at the beginning,” Dawn said. “In the office now, we have cashier screens on each desk and air purifiers and sanitizers. We allow only two people in the waiting room (six feet apart) at a time. And masks are required.”

Looking toward the future of her business, Dawn said she hopes that after she retires and her daughter takes the reins, that the business will continue to provide for and serve many future generations. Her vision is to see her daughter and grandchildren and future employee’s families benefit from what she started so many years ago.

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Joanna Yorke is the managing editor of the Vancouver Business Journal. She has worked in the journalism field since 2010 after graduating from the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University in Pullman. Yorke worked at The Reflector Newspaper in Battle Ground for six years and then worked at and helped start ClarkCountyToday.com.