Bronwyn Koopman is the President of Bristol West Insurance Group®, a proud member of the Farmers Insurance Group of Companies®, one of the nation’s largest insurer groups that offers a wide variety of home, life, specialty, commercial and auto insurance products and services across the United States. Koopman became the President of Bristol West® in early 2020, after joining Farmers® in 2017.
Prior to her current role, Koopman wore a couple of different hats at Farmers. She initially joined the insurer in early 2017 to assist the President of Personal Lines develop and drive forward a number strategic initiatives. In late 2017, Koopman moved to the Farmers Personal Lines Product team, where she led a team responsible for Farmers auto, home, and umbrella products in numerous states throughout the country.
Koopman joined Farmers with nearly 20 years of experience in the property and casualty industry across a variety of functions, giving her a unique breadth of experience. She has worked extensively with independent agents, exclusive agents, and through direct distribution models. Koopman has led a variety of business units, with notable expertise in product, underwriting, and distribution.
As President of Bristol West, Koopman leads employees who proudly serve approximately half a million households across more than 40 states. Bristol West offers personal auto insurance with a focus on competitive rates, being easy-to-use, and providing excellent service to customers and agents. Bristol West is constantly adding to and enhancing the coverages they offer to better meet the needs of customers. For example, Bristol West is expanding into commercial auto insurance, with products already available to customers in FL and CA, and additional states coming soon.
Koopman and her husband, Mike, have three wonderful children. As a family, they enjoy outdoor activities, and do a lot of hiking and camping.
Where did the idea for Bristol West Insurance Group come from?
Bristol West was started with the goal of providing something that many Florida residents needed, but were struggling to find – high quality automobile insurance coverage, at a reasonable price. From that start in 1973, Bristol West has continued to expand into other states, and we now fill that need for customers in more than 40 states.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I wouldn’t say that I have a typical day. One day I might be working with our product team on how we can adjust our coverages or prices to better meet the needs of our customers. The next day I might be working with our claims team to make sure our claims settlements continue to be fair and fast, and the next with our service team to make sure we continue to provide best-in-class service to our policyholders. Every day is different, and I love every minute of it. To make sure I’m as productive and impactful as I can be, I work hard to prioritize where I should spend my time, and then bring my all.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I mentioned a few of the teams at Bristol West in my previous answer, those business units and all of the other amazing teams at Bristol West bring ideas to life. All of our teams are passionate about what they do, they really care about their customers and about each other. We like working together and constantly collaborate. With that type of environment, bringing ideas to life is natural, and fun.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Vehicle technology. All the crash avoidance and self-driving technology that is being put into cars, and developed for the future is fascinating to me. It’s already having a big impact on our business, both, by reducing how often accidents happen and also by making it more expensive to repair cars when accidents do happen. We anticipate that impact will continue to expand and evolve as the technology evolves – very interesting stuff.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
While I’m not always successful in this, I try to be relentlessly positive. I constantly monitor my own attitude, and if it’s not positive, I pause, take a few deep breaths, smile, and reframe. Doing that makes it a lot easier for me to stay focused on how to get the best possible outcome and see how to make the future even brighter. It also helps me to be more patient, which is important because patience is not one my natural strengths.
What advice would you give your younger self?
My advice would be the same as what I always heard growing up, be patient, patience is a virtue.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
When driving and merging lanes, you shouldn’t merge early. All lanes are intended to be fully used, and studies indicate that merging early hurts the flow of traffic, so merging late is not rude (again my struggles with patience).
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Remember to say “thank you.”
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Really look objectively at the needs of your customers. I mentioned earlier that Bristol West was formed in 1973 to fill a need for consumers/drivers. We did that well, and the reason we continue to be successful is that we recognize the needs of our customers are constantly changing, and we change to continue to meet those needs.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There have been a few times when we have not effectively anticipated or adapted to the changing needs of our customers. I can think of a few examples where we expended resources developing solutions for our customers that were good solutions, but once we took them to market, we found out that there wasn’t the demand we anticipated, either because the customer need wasn’t great enough or the customer need was being met adequately elsewhere.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a new pillow set that’s helping me sleep better, and good sleep is important.
What is your favorite quote?
“Be sure to put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln. I love that quote, and to be clear, that doesn’t mean I think it’s okay to stay in the same place and resist change. I love change, seek it, drive it, but when it comes to what’s right and wrong, stand firm no matter how hard it might be.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.