Allstate agent Debbie Bates' experience makes her qualified to assist with her customers' insurance needs.

A lot has changed since Allstate agent Debbie Bates started selling insurance products at the Sunpoint Shopping Center in Ruskin in 1987. There was only one agent in the area that owned a cell phone, a clunky brick phone, and it was not her. She owned a computer, but its only function was to help with calculating insurance quotes.

Information about customers on microfiche would be delivered weekly (the World Wide Web wasn’t developed until 1989). Instead of digital paperwork that flies through cyberspace in the blink of an eye, a courier would stop by the office a couple times a week and hand deliver documents to customers.

Bates, who now has two Allstate locations, one in Ruskin at 837 Cypress Village Blvd. in Cypress Creek Professional Center and another in Brandon at 1767 S. Kings Ave. in Kings Avenue Executive Park, said even though her business has embraced the technological advancements of today’s world, the human factor is still a key aspect of her business.

“I can write an insurance policy from start to finish without ever having to see the customer but that doesn’t mean I am not physically present in my business,” she said.

Customers with auto insurance policies will call her from the DMV because they forgot their proof of insurance or they will call her while in a dealership’s office needing an endorsement for a new car.

“Customers are surprised at how quickly I respond and provide them what they need,” she said.

When Wimauma resident Sue Loggins was involved in a minor motorcycle accident, she called her Allstate agent, Bates, for assistance.

“I was panicking and upset, so I called Debbie and she told me what to do and said if I was still upset when I got home to call her back and she’d help walk me through the claims process,” she said. “She really saved the day.”

In addition to motorcycle insurance, Loggins has auto and life insurance policies with Allstate. She switched from Geico after more than 20 years when Bates showed her how much money she could save by switching to Allstate.

“She knows her stuff and takes care of her customers,” said Loggins.

Both Allstate offices are open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m., but Bates said appointments can be made in the evenings if necessary.

For more information about Allstate or to schedule a free consultation, visit www.allstate.com/debbiebates or call 681-9696 for the Brandon office or 633-0006 for the Ruskin location.