Anita Allegrezza: Independence as an Entrepreneur
Story by Heather DiPrato. Photos by Cindy Fatsis.
When Anita Allegrezza and her husband Damian moved to their Yardley Hunt home in 2016, they had no idea how much Yardley had to offer. Though initially searching for a home in Newtown, “We were so impressed with Lower Makefield,” Anita tells us, “We found a beautiful home with a pool in a great neighborhood. Everyone looks out for one another here, and our friends and family love to visit. We feel fortunate to live here.”
Anita grew up in Ambler, PA, the youngest of eight children. Her dad earned a Purple Heart in World War II, and after returning home, attended Villanova University as part of the GI Bill. He met her mom shortly thereafter. “My mom had me at 43 years old, and the following year she had a stroke,” Anita recalls. “She was an inspiration for me. Her entire right side was paralyzed, yet she managed to get all eight of us up and ready for school. Even today, if I am tired or I don’t feel 100%, I think of my mom. She had the use of one eye, one arm, and one leg and still managed to get up every day and take care of all of us.” Her mom lived to 92 and her memory continues to inspire others.
Anita was only 19 years old when her father had a massive heart attack and died. “My dad was also a huge influence on my life. He pointed me in the direction of insurance,” Anita shares. “He saw the ad for Prudential and said to me, ‘You would be great, you love to talk to people!’ He knew it would be a great fit for me. At that job, I handled claims for 20 states on the East Coast, and I knew instantly that I loved insurance.” She continued at that job throughout her time at Penn State University. Throughout college and after graduation, Anita poured her heart and soul into the industry. “At one point, I was at a firm in Philadelphia and worked so many hours people thought it was a 24-hour agency,” she recalls with a laugh. She gradually moved from handling claims into a producer position, which is where her heart is. “I take great pride in helping people, and knowing my customers are properly insured through all of life’s changes and stages,” she explains.
In 2003, her brother Fred backed Anita to start an independent agency. “He put me in ‘business boot camp’ and had me put together a business plan in a week!” One of the tasks Fred gave her was to come up with a name for her new business. Between having a birthday on Veterans Day and her appreciation for the military because of her dad’s service, Anita felt a deep connection with the American flag. “I’ve always been very patriotic,” she explains. “I grew up pledging allegiance to the flag every day in school. When I started my own company, I wanted a name to capture the ‘spirit of Philadelphia,’ so I named it Freedom Insurance Group, after the song Philadelphia Freedom by Elton John!”
Starting her own firm was not easy, but it was rewarding. “People will tell you things to try and get in your head. I once had a boss that told me, as a woman, I’d never be able to start my own agency,” Anita says. “And when people say things like that, it just makes me all the more determined to show them what I can accomplish.” Anita started her agency with just 2 companies, Farmers & AIG, and has since grown the agency to represent over 20 companies, 10 of which are A+ rated. “I continually look for ways to save clients’ money. With more options available, top companies are competing for the business, which saves them time, money, and frustration.”
All of Anita’s long hours and hard work began to pay off. She added team members and began winning awards for her own agency. “I have an incredible team,” she says proudly. “Several team members have received awards for their service and production.” After 18 years, it is a thriving independent agency with a staff of six. Anita is an active member of The Hartford Agency Council which focuses on the growing needs of the 50+ community. Being able to mentor a new generation coming into the business has been meaningful. “I’m so grateful for my career and want to help younger people get started, too.” Anita was a 2021 President’s Award winner and 2020 Award of Excellence winner from Safeco Insurance and is a Platinum Agent with Progressive. These distinctions are presented to a small group of agents that provide exceptional service and quality work. Freedom Insurance Group also has the distinction of being a Trusted-Choice agency and a member of PIA & IIA&B.
As an entrepreneur, Anita was working non-stop, yet still tried to carve out a little time for summer vacations, which is where she met her husband, Damian, in 2006. “We met down the shore, at Keenan’s in North Wildwood,” Anita laughs. “It was on July 15th and Damian’s friend literally pushed him backwards into me to be sure we met! We dated for 4 years and were married in 2010.” Damian works for the state of New Jersey. “At our wedding, the song I chose was ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ which seemed fitting for a few reasons,” she says with a smile. “For one, I’d been so focused on my career that some of my family members joked they never thought I’d get married!”
Growing up with seven siblings, Anita had learned from an early age how to enjoy life and stand out in the crowd. She is known in her family for her sense of humor, her love of music, and frequent laughter. She and Damian enjoy hosting friends and family in their home, including their many nieces and nephews. Anita also gets a kick out of being considered a “cool Aunt” and is renowned for her epic pool parties, complete with great food and 80’s music. Before she met Damian, she even DJ’d at the shore in Avalon, NJ – not the hallmarks of your typical insurance agent!
Damian and Anita have also enjoyed traveling together. “Over the years,” Anita explains, “I’ve won a number of trips and we have traveled to cities like Seattle, Chicago, and New York City to beaches in Florida and California. The companies I represent will fly me in for industry roundtable discussions to get ideas about marketing and advertising. At first, Damian was a little reluctant to fly, but he does love the opportunity to see other cities!”
Since its humble beginnings with a phone and fax on a banquet table, Anita built a thriving independent agency. “We meet the diverse needs of the community, from the older homes in the borough to subdivisions like Yardley Hunt and newer builds like Yardley Walk. She’s also a member of the National Association of Professional Women and an active member of The Hartford’s Agent Advisory Council since 2016. She prides herself on being customer-focused and staying on the cutting edge. In keeping with the patriotic theme of her brand, Anita says her goal is to provide neighbors “freedom from the high cost of insurance.” She became a sponsor of Yardley Living last year. “I loved reading and learning about people in the community,” Anita says. Recently, after working with a few of her neighbors on their insurance and recognized a concerning trend. “I’m finding people in my neighborhood have been with the same carriers for many years,” she explains. “Insurance is only as good as your agent. If you have a good agent, they make sure you have the best coverage at the best price. We review our customers’ policies every year to make sure they do.”
To this day, although her parents have passed, she and her siblings remain close. “We have a tradition,” says Anita. “Every year we get together and sing Christmas carols as a family. I have many pictures of my entire family doing this, and it’s one of the highlights of the season for me!” For summer fun, Anita and Damian love to spend time by the pool, and support the small business and restaurant community. Damian also loves to cook, and is known for his homemade red sauce.
The couple appreciates the charm and friendliness of Yardley. “People are always willing to help each other. One year I got a few neighbors Griswold Moose Mugs after they helped us plow our driveway during a snowstorm,” laughs Anita. “And recently I handled an insurance issue for one of my neighbors and found out his daughter dislocated her knee, so I went to Cramer’s to get cupcakes to cheer them up. I even have a favorite cashier named Luanne at the grocery store and she always puts me in a good mood no matter what is going on in life! This really is a great place to live!”