“It’s been a crazy year,” says Chris Wagner. “But we still got out there and were able to help a lot of people in need.”
Wagner, who heads up Lake of the Ozarks-based WIA Marine Insurance, is ruminating about a year in which Covid-19 spread through the country and caused widespread misery. Undaunted, Wagner and his team could be spotted at all of the area events at the lake, helping to raise money for charity and supporting his current and future customers.
“We’ve been involved in so many different events over the year, and the best part of that is that a lot of money is raised for charity. We’re just locals, supporting our community, even at the darkest of times. We’ve sponsored a lot of things and donated money to charities, in addition to helping out people in the boating community as a whole.”
Many readers of Speedboat will recognize the WIA logo on various race and poker-run boats, particularly the Super Stock competitors LPC (Wagner’s employee, Christy Wright, is married to LPC throttleman Mike Wright) and CR Racing. Other readers may well be customers of WIA; the pandemic has definitely not slowed down the insurance business.
“The industry as a whole has been crazy—people have been buying boats left and right,” Wagner says. “Especially at the lake, inventory has been way down. And we’ve actually staffed up—I had to hire another admin person, and we moved somebody over from one side of the agency just to work on insuring boats, to better support our customers. One thing that’s super important to us is customer service and making sure we stay in constant communication with people.”
For the last 10 years, Wagner and his agency have proudly played a pivotal role in the annual Lake of the Ozarks Shootout. He helps out on the start boat, while his wife, Christy Wagner, is the editor of the Shootout’s program guide. “That’s probably our biggest event of the year, and the best thing about it is that there are 700 volunteers and proceeds go to around 32 different charities and eight fire departments,” he says. “When you’re a volunteer, you can put your hours toward whatever your charity you want to.”
The WIA team includes Christy Wright, Nikki Long and Emily Pepper. “It really is a team effort,” Wagner says. “We try to get things done fast for people.”