Our History

Our roots go back a long way...

The History of Benavides Insurance...

The Beginning

Benavides Insurance was founded on July 1, 1978 with State Farm Insurance in Brownsville, Texas by Felipe Benavides.

Felipe, married to Gloria Jean Benavides, left his high school teaching position to begin the agency while Gloria held down her elementary teaching position to provide enough money during the launch of their insurance agency. At that time, State Farm Insurance had not yet reached its pinnacle of being the largest P&C insurance carrier in the United States, so contracts to sell their products were designed to take excellent care of their agents both during and after their careers as agents.

(The newspaper clipping above shows Felipe (3rd from the left) and Gloria (3rd from the right) posing outside their original office location in 1978.)

 

Earliest years: 1980’s

Benavides Insurance was off to a very quick start as Felipe found his transition natural‐‐from teaching high school English to teaching clients about various insurance products. After experiencing enough growth and financial secureness, Gloria resigned from her teaching position in 1985 to join Benavides Insurance full‐time. Gloria, until this day, was known for her voracious caring of clients and desire to help anyone that was willing to be helped. For her to transition from caring for young children in school to caring for clients—that transition too came very natural to her.

The newspaper clipping above shows Felipe (3rd from the left) and Gloria (3rd from the right) posing outside their original office location in 1978.

Maintaining a healthy balance of family and work is a challenge for any business owner, but the Benavides family did things a little different. By 1985, Felipe and Gloria had their 2 children: Dinora Denise (age 11) and Derek Orlando (age 6). Rather than leaving the kids at home to be raised by a nanny after school, Felipe and Gloria opted to have them help around the office in whatever capacity. Derek reminisces, “From about as early as I can remember I was helping out with something...with anything really. I remember spending my summers watching Nickelodeon and stamping envelopes and getting paid about $1.00 per box. From mowing the grass at the office, helping inspect homes while getting chased by dogs, to helping clients board up their windows to prepare for a hurricane—we really enjoyed it even at a young age.”

 
 

Early years: 1990’s‐2000’s

Benavides Insurance during this period of time had already cemented itself in the community as being the agency that cares for its clients. Whether it was insuring a president of a company that paid tens of thousands every year in premium to the retired clerk that had an uninsurable home with an auto liability only policy—all were treated and cared for the same.

Awards followed and recognition trips too—from multiple trips to Hawaii to cruises in Europe. Felipe remembers a conversation he once had with a fellow agent during a recognition trip. Felipe has always been an early morning riser and one morning while his kids and wife slept in their hotel room, he went down to the lobby to have breakfast with other agents. One agent mentioned at the table that he loved these trips because he got the chance to leave the kids back home with the in‐laws. He then asked Felipe how he enjoyed leaving his kids behind too and to his surprise Felipe replied, “On the contrary, my kids are upstairs with my wife. We love bringing our kids on these trips because I never got to go on trips with my parents and I also want my kids to learn that hard work pays off. I want them to learn this business from an early age.”

Later years with State Farm: 2000‐2013

Although both Dinora and Derek learned about insurance sales early on, Dinora graduated college from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas in 1996 with a B.A. in International Business and pursued a career as an insurance underwriter with Texas Municipal Interleague Pool Insurance based in Austin. She worked her way up to lead underwriter earning her CPCU designation until her untimely death in 2012 due to cancer.

Dinorah Benavides
Derek earned his B.A. in Public Relations from The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2001, but began working for Enterprise Rent‐A‐Car in 1999 and continued up until graduation. He then worked with New York Life Insurance selling life insurance and mutual funds, followed by working as an adjuster for Progressive Insurance—both positions in San Antonio. Although he never thought being an insurance agent was for him, he moved back to Brownsville to help Benavides Insurance in 2005. It was that year Derek met Martha and 13 months later they were married.

Martha joined Benavides Insurance while she was still dating Derek and they accepted the opportunity to open up their own State Farm agency in Lewisville, Texas—a suburb of Dallas. The opening of their

agency marks the beginning of the family’s realization that State Farm was growing away from the family’s direction for their agencies.

Gloria was originally diagnosed with cancer in 1990, beat it twice, but it returned in 2006 and was too far advanced. Gloria passed away on June 28, 2007, but left behind so many friends and family that were touched by her unbreakable bond between her God, as well, as her family.

Beginning of the end with State Farm

All came to a head as Derek tells this story: “After a year of being in our Lewisville agency, as they do with every new agent, the Sales Leader (then Agency Field Executive/AFE) met with me to review numbers to determine if they would re‐sign my contract to continue in agency with the company. It took that meeting and another one in 6 months of my AFE explaining that if I didn’t sell certain products that I would lose my agency. I tried to reason with them that some products weren’t in the best interest of the client and their response was, ‘It’s in your contract and you have to do it’. That didn’t sit well with us as Mom and Dad taught us early on that we don’t ever sell anything that you wouldn’t buy yourself or sell to your closest friends and family. Two years into our Lewisville agency I was given the option of being bought out of the agency by State Farm or accept no money and leave the door open for re‐entry to the agency program with State Farm. Mom and Dad also taught us that the only doors you leave open are the ones that lead to careers. So we accepted no money.”

At this time, Derek and Martha feeling like their tails were tucked between their legs, returned to Brownsville to join with Felipe and help him get his agency ready for retirement. But as Felipe says, “God’s timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The wind had been knocked out of my sails after losing Gloria in 2007 and then helping the family while Dinora was fighting her cancer—it was great timing having Derek and Martha come back to help run every aspect of my Brownsville agency. Even with all the time we spent out of the office, we were able to grow the agency by double digit percentages each year. We were all fortunate that I was able to step back from the business and focus on taking care of the family.”

One door closes...

Shortly after Dinora’s passing on December 9, 2012, Felipe, Derek, and Martha sat down to discuss the future of the agency. Many questions were asked, but it boiled down to three questions:

  1. With State Farm changing its direction and becoming less flexible for our clients, how can we put ourselves in a position to always best serve our clients?
  2. What is going to be the best move for our family looking forward 30 years?
  3. Where is God leading us?
We understood that if we left, although Felipe would receive a healthy retirement package regardless, we would be leaving behind 35 years of client relationships and millions of premium dollars to start again from zero. Martha remembers, “To say that Derek and I were scared was an understatement. We knew that my father‐in‐law was going to be good (financially), but to start from zero...again? That scared me, but I knew that God wasn’t going to put anything in front of us if He didn’t have a plan.”

We all left that meeting knowing that we were going to part ways with State Farm, but not before sitting down face‐to‐face with the State Farm corporate manager to receive their blessing.

One door opens...

Derek remembers boarding a Southwest Airlines flight the summer of 2013 feeling frustrated at the options of opening an insurance agency—not yet decided which type of agency to select: captive or independent. He spent that brief 45‐minute flight from Houston to Harlingen typing into his IPhone: “Top 10 reasons to do business with Benavides Insurance”. To him, this was a “solo brainstorming session”, but it turned into their new agency’s mission and vision statement. Although their agency had lived by this “Top 10”, they had never written it down or verbalized it

 
 
  1. Our core beliefs lie in: our faith in God, our family, and our clients.

  2. We believe you should have a personal relationship with your doctor, realtor, CPA, lawyer, and

    your insurance agent.

  3. You should have easy access to your agent, not an 800‐number. 800‐number insurance agents

    will give you 800‐number service and advice.

  4. We are not in business to break relationships, but we are in the habit of making relationships. If

    you have a great relationship with your current agent, great! If anything changes, let us

    know. If you don’t know your agent–we’d love to get to know you and your family!

  5. Contrary to the saying, this is personal, not just business.

  6. We have the heart of teachers–we educate and we help you decide what products you need.

  7. We believe in selling based on your needs, not our need to make a sale.

  1. We do not believe in sales quotas. As long as we do an excellent job, clients will want to do business with us and refer their friends and family.

  2. Our family has been serving client’s insurance needs since 1978.

  3. We tithe, donate, sponsor, volunteer, and enjoy it all. We love our community and invest in

    it. Does your insurance agency?

Derek and Martha used this “Top 10”, not only as a guide, but they used it during interviews with insurance agencies as they searched for the perfect insurance agency to partner with. Derek recollects, “I spoke to Allstate, Farmers, Nationwide, and a bunch of other agencies. I would start off the conversation with their corporate interviewers by asking them if I could read them our Top 10 list of non‐negotiables. Although they appreciated the list, all of them said that I wasn’t exactly what they were looking for in an agent. I was referred to The Woodlands Financial Group (TWFG) by Carlton Kon who was a former top‐performing State Farm Agent that left to open a TWFG agency in Houston. I called Carlton and I asked how it was at TWFG. Carlton simply replied, ‘You need to be over here.’ Within 2 days, I was on the phone with the TWFG agent recruiter and I, again, started off the conversation with the reading of our Top 10. When I finished reading the recruiter said, ‘You all are exactly the kind of agent we are looking for.’

Wide‐open door

Within 2 years of opening our doors with TWFG, Benavides Insurance was being awarded the TWFG Million Dollar Club award (collected over $1,000,000 in premium in a year). This award placed them firmly in the top 15% of all TWFG agents in the nation.

Receiving this award was just reassurance for the Benavides family that they made the right decision and they were, as Derek puts it, “Exactly where God wants us and it feels good.”

In late 2015, they took the opportunity to purchase One Source Financial Services based in McAllen, Texas and TWFG‐Teena Martel Insurance Agency in Midland, Texas.

The next chapter

With a solid footing in South Texas and nearly 100% of their business coming from referrals, Benavides Insurance is looking forward to the next 30 years while serving their clients to the best of their ability today. Treating everyone like family—both their agents and clients, they all truly enjoy what they do every day and look forward to serving tens of thousands more clients as well as their community.

Meet Our Team

Including the original founders of Benavides Insurance

[our-team]

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