Filling the Gap: California-based  insurance agency making its mark in Scottsdale

Filling the Gap: California-based insurance agency making its mark in Scottsdale

By Jordan Houston

California-based multiline insurance agency is expanding its Arizona presence, adding fuel to the Scottsdale Airpark’s ever-growing economic engine.

On October 8, Desert Insurance Solutions celebrated the grand opening of its new office location at 13430 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 203. The award-winning independent brokerage, originating from La Quinta, welcomed roughly 200 clients, community members, family and friends to mix and mingle from 5 to 9 p.m. on its rooftop with like-minded individuals and the faces behind the airport’s newest addition.

Attendees were met with live music, catering, beverages and gift bags highlighting Desert Insurance Solutions’ readiness to begin assimilating into the city.

“I just think it’s a natural progression for us, and business is so vibrant here,” Desert Insurance Solutions co-owner and President Carrie Babij tells Airpark News. “We’re excited to expand what we’ve successfully been able to build and offer in California, and we are looking forward to really seeing how we can serve the community here.”

The broker offers “all types” of insurance to commercial, professional and personal clients, as well as small- to medium-sized businesses.

Desert Insurance Solutions also provides health insurance and Medicare supplements, Babij notes.

“My agency is what I would call a boutique firm, meaning we can do a lot of the same things most of the big national brokerage houses can do,” the president shares. “But because we’re not owned by shareholders and boards of directors, we can do it the way we want to do it.”

Adding, “Big brokerages don’t want to deal with smaller clients because they have thresholds. So, we end up helping a lot of startup companies and smaller companies that can’t get the service from the larger brokerages — we really fill in that gap.”

Because Desert Insurance Solutions is licensed to do business in virtually every state, the boutique firm specializes in serving high-value homeowners with multiple properties — branding itself as a unique candidate against competitors.

People in the “high net worth space” with homes in multiple states looking to consolidate and simplify their insurance with a single broker and carrier could benefit greatly from Desert Insurance Solutions’s services, Babij says.

“It’s kind of unique in the space, so it gives us a bit of a business edge or advance,” the president says.

With more than 30 years of senior management experience in the insurance industry, it’s safe to say Babij has indeed homed in on her edge.

Prior to starting with Desert Insurance Solutions, the co-owner amassed over 20 years of experience under her belt with high net worth personal lines at Brown and Brown Private Client Group and commercial lines as senior vice president of Wells Fargo Insurance in Seattle, Washington, according to her biography.

She recalls the time in which she felt ready to pivot her professional path.

“I had gotten away from the edge where I got to client-face and deal with the actual insurance matters,” Babij recalls. “I decided to step out of the corporate world and start this agency 10 years ago.”

The entrepreneur went on to start her La Quinta location from scratch — and hasn’t looked back since.

Babij’s firm has since been awarded the 2019 Agency of the Year by National Underwriter Magazine and 2020 Top Producer by Insurance Business America, the Desert Insurance Solutions website states.

Despite economic obstacles stemming from COVID-19, Babij says she was inspired at the pandemic’s height to expand her company’s presence in Arizona.

“California was severely locked down, and my clients were suffering,” Babij recalls, noting she already had a single-person office and “small presence” in Scottsdale. “I had a lot of hospitality clients that went out of business and couldn’t survive it.

“I would come over here (Scottsdale) in that period of time, and I noticed everything was open. Business was booming, boards were moving and they were building — it’s a hustle and bustle,” she continues. “I didn’t feel that deadness I was feeling in California at the time. I thought, ‘You know, this is where I think my future growth and expansion needs to be.’”

The Scottsdale Airpark continues to dominate as one of the city’s major economic engines — functioning as a primary source of employment and serving as a base for 85 “major companies” and roughly 3,233 small and medium-sized businesses.

However, Babij argues the region is absolutely in the market for her company’s services.

“I really believe there is a need for us,” Babij says. “The big brokerages are all here — there are big signs on all of the big buildings. Again, there is a whole big section of the business community and people that they (large brokerages) can’t or don’t serve. … Independent brokerage firms like mine are few and far between.”

Another notable element marking Desert Insurance Solutions’ distinctiveness is the caliber of its staff.

A majority of the brokerage’s employees are single or working mothers — an initial happenstance that Babij says she continues to nurture and foster.

“I noticed if I gave them a professional position with responsibility, and then also gave them the flexibility and means to be able to take care of their kids and come and go at times when they needed to — they are so dedicated. They work so hard and are so grateful for those opportunities and become good, loyal employees,” explains Babij, who was also once a single mother.

Desert Insurance Solutions prides itself in cultivating a flexible, family-oriented work environment, the co-owner continues.

And it’s no secret a dedicated and productive staff makes for a well-oiled machine. Almost 100% of the agency’s business stems directly from referrals, Babij says.

The most rewarding part, however, is the professional relationships fostered and the opportunities to help others, Babij claims.

“The very first thing is the stability for the team that I’ve built and watching them grow and build in their professional lives,” Babij says. “I look at all these little kids and the families that rely on me for their livelihoods, and it’s a great responsibility.”

“I’d say secondly, on the client side of things, is being able to solve problems for people,” she continued. 

Desert Insurance Solutions is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit its website at ν

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