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Hagerty Roadside Partners With Agero To Reduce Breakdown Stress


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VP of Hagerty Roadside Eric Kurt spoke to HotCars.com about partnering with Agero to bring roadside services into the modern era.

 

I recently bought my first classic car. Not just any classic, though, a Porsche 914. And not just any Porsche 914, a project car that doesn't run and doesn't even have an engine installed (at the moment). As crazy as the decision might seem, many perfectly reasonable factors (and a few instances of rationalizing) led to my eventual purchase—and I can admit that the prospect of restoring the car does seem overwhelming at times.

 

But one concern that lingered in my mind during my search was how to insure a proper project car. After all, it's not on the road risking accidents or damage, so how would insurance even work? Well, having heard good things from a few classic car collectors I know and recalling a conversation I had with Brian Rabold, VP of Valuation Services at Hagerty who, unknowingly at the time, nudged me in the direction of my purchase by describing the state of the collector market during the Covid-19 pandemic (and making me feel great about my 1998 Mitsubishi Montero), I called up Hagerty to see what they could do.

 

To my surprise, the insurance rep on the phone didn't bat an eye, quickly comprehending my project car quandary and setting me up with insurance coverage to the tune of about $13.50 per month (and I can change the coverage once I get the car running).

 

The customer service on that phone call alone made me feel good about taking the plunge, so when I heard that Hagerty planned to partner with Agero to provide enhanced, modern towing services to the company's million-plus members, I thought the news presented an excellent opportunity to learn a little more about this company that's so pleasantly taking my money.

 

Luckily, one of Hagerty's PR people had apparently read my story about the 914 project car purchase and reached out, offering me a chance to chat with Eric Kurt, Vice President of Hagerty Roadside. Kurt recently celebrated his 15th year with Hagerty, having climbed up from manning the phones and selling insurance over that decade and a half, during which Hagerty has grown from 120 employees to now over 1,500—and Kurt was quick to point out why.

 

“We’re not really a typical insurance company," he explained. "Insurance is our backbone and it’s how we grew, but we’ve branched out enormously. Hagerty Drivers Club membership has been one of the big ways we’ve done that. Valuation services and what Brian [Rabold] does is another way—and we’ve got some more exciting things on the way, too.”

 

Hagerty's growth, Kurt told me after I related my recent experience signing up, has largely come thanks to positive customer service experiences. “Referrals and word of mouth have really been the secret sauce of Hagerty, in addition to a hyper focus on customer service. Every time you call Hagerty, we want it to be a good experience, which can be challenging with roadside service.”

 

“Out of all the things Hagerty does, it’s the thing we have the least amount of control over. We do all our claims in house, so we can control that process. But for roadside, we have to partner with a motor club."

 

Partnering with towing companies presents a significant amount of challenges, and to Kurt, the moment a Hagerty member's car suffers a breakdown is the moment Hagerty gets to prove its value—and it happens more often than you'd think.

 

“About a year and a half ago, or a little longer, we decided that since we have over 50,000 dispatches a year for our members, we really ought to have someone focused on this full time," Kurt told me. "The Number One complaint in roadside ten years ago was long waits. Ten years from now, it’s going to be long waits—the ETA, how long does it take to get to you on the side of the road. Every minute feels like ten. Add in some bad weather or nighttime or a bad neighborhood or a dangerous highway and it’s really a moment of truth for us with our members.”

 

The new partnership with Agero allows Kurt to bring modern technology to the rescue of Hagerty's members. Agero's massive, nationwide reach as the largest software-enabled driver assistance company in North America rests on the foundation of a platform called Swoop, which Agero bought after the Silicon Valley startup established a system of behind-the-scenes algorithms that unites the massively disparate, slow-adopting technology of towing service providers into one clean, easy-to-use program.

 

Agero has already proven itself as a big-time player in the game, said Kurt. "“If you throw a dart at an OEM name or an insurance carrier,  it’s more than likely Agero does roadside for them... Agero partners with a network of 30,000 providers, small medium and large. And many are great, some are not."

 

"It’s never going to be 100% right, but occasionally roadside goes sideways. There’s just so many variables," Kurt admitted, adding that, "We’re partnering with a partner who partners with 30,000 other partners—so Murphy’s Law definitely happens.”

 

Agero's backend allows Kurt to keep tabs on every Hagerty member in every stage of a roadside mechanical failure. As we were speaking, he was able to quickly call up how many members were at that moment queued for scheduled events, how many were pending or in progress, and how many were currently being towed. He could access every instance since last May with a few clicks at the keyboard, plus a map of the US showing every single member in need.

 

And the truth is that Hagerty serves a customer base that finds itself in need more often than other insurance companies might experience. "Traditionally, what we’ve always said is a collector car is, in general, six times more likely to break down than a daily-use vehicle," Kurt revealed. "I can’t point to where that came from or if that’s verifiable or not, but they do break down more often, without question."

 

For new Hagerty members who might have found themselves inspired (or bored) during the pandemic and bought a classic, that truth will hit home hard once they get out on the road, socially distancing behind the wheel. As Brian Rabold, the data-focused VP of Valuation Services, explained, millennials have been getting into the collector car market in a big way, driving up values for everything from first-gen Ford Mustangs to JDM Nissan Skylines. But millennials in need on the side of the road also present a new challenge for Kurt and Hagerty Roadside, since they're so accustomed to instantaneous service made possible by constant connectivity.

 

One unique detail that attracted Kurt and Hagerty to Agero was an existing relationship with the ridesharing app Lyft. "Traditionally, you’d just ride with the tow-truck driver or get a ride from a friend or family member," Kurt told me in reference to pre-pandemic times. "Now, it’s a permanent program where basically, if there’s a Lyft available, we’re going to offer that to you and pay for the first $30 for you to get a ride where you need to go."

 

Kurt has also overseen the expansion of Hagerty Drivers Club, including three tiers (officially known as First, Second, and Third Gear) that optionally include roadside coverage for the whole family's cars, not just limited to classic cars but daily drivers, too. And Hagerty Drivers Club doesn't even require being a Hagerty insurance customer—another way the firm tries to bridge the gap between insurance provider and lifestyle brand.

 

Hagerty's new partnership with Agero allows Kurt to continue improving the breakdown experience in the hopes of reducing stress. "Our job is to get you back on the road and to make it a good experience and one you want to tell your friends about, not a horrible experience like being stuck on the 405 for four hours..."

 

The best way that Kurt knows to keep members happy during the stress of a breakdown is to keep them well informed. “One of the things we’ve really worked on with Agero and the Swoop platform is that more communication means happier members. You’re okay waiting for a little longer, as long as you’re being told what’s happening, kept in the loop. So we do that through text notifications, we send a link that pulls up a map that shows where the truck is, where your car is going. So it’s really just more information helps make it smoother. And then when it’s all done, we send a text right away asking how did we do.”

 

And when things do, inevitably, go wrong, Kurt said, "We never just leave it hanging, we always try and make it right. We want them walking away still feeling good about Hagerty. Because a lot of our members have been with us a long time and maybe just pay their premium every year, enjoy their content, but never had to call us until they broke down."

Kurt doesn't own a classic car himself, instead driving a leased Volvo he chose for the safety of his son, but he did offer me (and through me, any Hagerty member) some advice: add the Hagerty Roadside phone number to your phone's contacts now, and enter your membership number in the notes below. That way, when the day comes that you need help, your Hagerty Roadside experience (with a little help from Agero) will be all that much easier.

 

Hotcars.com

Sources: hagerty.com, agero.com, and instagram.com.

 

 

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