TOLIC invests $10M to open 1st operation outside Puerto Rico, in Orlando
Puerto Rico-based Trans-Oceanic Life Insurance Co. is expanding its reach outside the island with the opening of a new operation in Orlando, seeking to cater to the large Hispanic population in that central Florida city.
TOLIC, as the firm is known, has invested $10 million to grow its business there, which may also serve as the springboard to reaching other cities in that state, Humberto Tapia, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing, said.
While the operation has been doing business in Florida for several months, Tapia said it took several years to get there.
“The dream of every entrepreneur is to export, regardless of where to. Being able to travel and see their brand is very exciting,” said Tapia, during a virtual meeting with members of the media from the company’s new 3,500 square-foot offices located close to the Florida Mall.
He said the back-to-back hurricanes that struck Puerto Rico in 2017, the earthquakes early last year and the COVID-19 pandemic drove TOLIC to seek new off-island opportunities. Orlando seemed like a natural starting point, he said.
“This is our time to grow, and that’s what we’ve been doing. So, we’ve gotten our Puerto Rico operation ready to be able to serve the more than five million Hispanics that call Florida home today,” he said. “There is great opportunity in an economically vibrant state and a market with populational growth. Anybody who’s in business knows that if there’s populational growth, there’s opportunity.”
In its new market, TOLIC will cater not only to Puerto Ricans who may already be familiar with the brand, but with other Hispanics — from Colombia, Venezuelan and the Dominican Republic — who need services in Spanish.
TOLIC was established 60 years ago in Puerto Rico, specializing in accident, critical illness, life and cancer insurance protection plans.
“We know the particular needs of Hispanics in Florida, we’ve been studying the market for three years,” he said, adding that all of TOLIC’s materials are available in English as well, to open the doors to those would-be customers.
While the company will hire its salesforce in Orlando, it will continue to process claims and services from Puerto Rico, he said.
Because TOLIC is relying on the use of technology to build its customer base, it is prepared to train its sales staff to seek clients in other Florida hotspots, including Tampa, Ocala and Lakeland. Eventually, the expansion could continue to other states, Tapia said.
“The path we have walked so far has catapulted us. It has set us up to enter other markets more easily. However, each state has its own particular set of regulations when it comes to insurance, so as long as that is similar to Florida, we’ll be able to get there quicker,” he said.
Last year, TOLIC also successfully entered Puerto Rico’s Annuities and IRA market, offering products with higher interest rates than banks, said Edrick Touma, who took over the reins of the local office in January.
“We have the experience, reputation, and financial strength to support our policyholders with highly competitive interests, innovative digital platforms, and first-rate service,” Touma said.
“We’re convinced that TOLIC’s recent inclusion as a member of an organization as prestigious as the Federal Home loan Bank of New York validates our financial capacity to continue providing innovative products that meet the needs of our policyholders,” he added.
TOLIC employs 84 people in its San Juan office, with plans to expand that payroll to 100 in coming years, Touma confirmed.