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by Lindsay Cuomo

Researching insurance options isn’t typically a favorite activity. Every six months to a year the topic probably comes up as the premiums come due. However, in the times when you need it the most, you realize just how important this decision can be.

Another storm season rolls in and we, as Oklahomans, are aware of what can happen and the need to be prepared. Julia Chew, a State Farm insurance agent and agency owner in Norman, has learned from experience just how vital her need for preparation is.

“What we offer, as insurance agents, is a promise to be there for our customers when they need it the most,” Chew said.

An important part of keeping that promise is that Chew and her team of agents are ready and able to work when Oklahoma’s skies throw a punch. As she searched for a larger location to accommodate her growing business, she found an office with a large-scale storm shelter. It was hard to resist.

Chew celebrated the grand opening of her agency’s new location at 701 Wall Street this April. Within the spacious office, Chew and her team now have access to many new amenities including a full kitchen, outdoor patio space and, of course, that shelter, which is now equipped to operate in the midst of inclement weather.

Chew said she has experienced firsthand what is needed in the aftermath of an Oklahoma storm, and she used that experience to design a work space within her business’ safe space.

“I had the shelter wired for computer access and installed a TV, so all we have to do is plug in a laptop and we can know exactly what customers need,” Chew explained. “We can all come in here and keep working, running zip codes and pulling policies right then and help our customers quickly.”

The new space has opened other opportunities for Chew. Now, with a location that allows room for further growth, Chew is excited about the possibility to lend a hand to local non-profits.

“I would like to open up our meeting room to local non-profits to use for board meetings or as a donation drop-off location,” Chew said.

As a University of Oklahoma alumnus, Chew said the Norman community is important to her, and she has served on several community boards over the years, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Norman Chamber of Commerce, OU President’s Associates Council and Sooner Stilettos.

In 2015, Julia was awarded the Regent’s Alumni Award, one of OU’s highest honors. Professionally, Chew waited 16 years for an agency spot to open up in Norman, so she could return and build a business of her own in her college town.

“I love being in a college town and the unique community partnerships this community offers,” Chew shared. “I started with State Farm right out of college in 1986. Finally, in 2002, an agency spot opened up in Norman.”

Prior to that, she helped other agents get their agencies up and running, taking note of best practices that would help shape her vision for what she has built in Norman. But, working in insurance was not her original career plan. Chew graduated from OU with a degree in journalism.

“My father was a State Farm agent, but I didn’t grow up wanting to be an agent,” Chew said.  “My dad encouraged me to just meet some people. When I saw how they lived out that promise, I was hooked.”

Chew now has nine full-time agents and two interns working in her agency, offering a portfolio of more than 100 products, including personal and commercial insurance, car loans and mortgages as well as investment services.

“We try to do things differently, by building relationships and helping people the right way,” Chew said. “My mission is to make a difference in people’s lives. I don’t know when that day will come exactly, but we promise we will be there.”

To learn more about Julia Chew and her State Farm agency, visit www.juliachew.com or call 329-3311.  – BSM

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