A long time sponsor of our online community, today we recognize Baja Bound as a key, strategic partner in our goal of providing the very best in service and assistance to Baja travelers as well as short and long term residents.
Ever since Talk Baja first started out as a small, stand alone forum nearly 15 years ago, Baja Bound Insurance has been a steady and faithful sponsor of this crazy dream of mine, supporting this community along every step of our growth. Our relationship over the years has grown and matured – personally and professionally – and to fully understand how we got here, let’s take a look back at both of our stories and note a few interesting parallels that bind us together.
As a young boy growing up in Southern California, I remember making a few trips south of the border with my family into Baja California, Mexico in the early 1960’s. I was captivated by many of the stark contrasts I observed from what was my world growing up north of the border in Orange County and the experience would plant a seed deep within me that would grow and eventually pull my life in directions that I couldn’t even have imagined at such a young age.
First real taste of Baja
A few years later – in 1967 – I would find myself sandwiched into the rear seat of a 4×4 Suburban with a handful of other kids on a long drive, headed down for a 7 day adventure at Punta Cabras, just north of Erendira.
The trip was put together by Bruce Barron – a close family friend and my Scoutmaster – accompanied by a couple of other dads and pulling a trailer behind us loaded up with surf boards, diving, fishing and camping gear, 4 or 5 dirt bikes, food, water, fire wood and other provisions as we left the highway and made our way out to Erendira where we stopped to buy a few more things including freshly made tortillas and ice, before working our way up Punta Cabras, battling the rising tide in areas until we reached our destination.
That week would pass by in the blink of an eye as each action packed day seemed even better than the one before, filled with non-stop activities – in and out of the water and from sunup to well after dark, before finally packing it all in to head back east to the highway and home.
To say that week was “fun” would be an incredibly gross understatement; it was nothing short of amazing, spectacular and transforming, filled with everything and more that a young boy’s dreams of adventure are truly made of.
Including my very first time standing up on a surfboard.
The entire experience was simply magical and unforgettable, laying the foundation for a life to be lived exploring outside the borders of my country of birth.
Around that same time period, a young man named John “Doc” Morton was also camping out along that same Baja California coastline at Punta Cabras and who knows, perhaps our paths might even have crossed at some point during that week?
They would most certainly cross a few decades later.
Baja Bound Insurance is born
John would become a San Diego area physician, opening a clinic near the border and often took his son Hank along with his good friend Geoff on camping / surfing trips down along Baja’s Pacific coastline in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, with Doc eventually taking up surfing himself at the age of 48.
In 1994, Doc came up with the novel idea of offering Mexican auto insurance to travelers heading south into Baja via a drive through window at the rear of his clinic which, as it happens, faced Highway 5.
During the 80’s and 90’s, I had followed that seed that grew inside me, calling me to travel and would live and work for several years in South America as well as short stints in Asia as well as Mexico City before settling down in Baja California twenty years ago. Here I would meet and marry Cristina, the love of my life and begin to develop my permanent roots down south of the border.
Drive-thru is for burgers, not insurance!
Over the years and during that same time period, both Geoff and Hank had become chronically infected with Doc’s love of Baja and in 1999, Hank would launch BajaBound.com, taking his father’s idea from the drive-thru to the web and in doing so, created the industry’s first online portal to purchase your policy easily from your home or office and in just a matter of minutes.
In 2003, Hank asked his childhood friend Geoff Hill along with his sister Jen to join the Baja Bound team, helping him to open their first downtown office in San Diego with Geoff focusing on business development and Jen overseeing customer service and office operations.
Talk Baja launches
While Hank, Geoff and Jen continued to focus on growing Baja Bound’s customer base via promotional efforts including sponsoring high profile sporting events in Baja as well as expanding their insurance coverage options they offered to travelers with top notch customer service, I had moved down to live in the Rosarito Beach area and began developing the concept of building an online community for Baja under the name of Talk Baja.
In 2008 I launched a small online forum – sponsored by Baja Bound – mainly targeting a small group of close friends sharing a love for Baja where we could swap stories and photos and over time, our membership began to take off.
Social media was quickly becoming all the rage and in 2013 I would move the forum to Facebook where our membership would shift into high gear, quickly reaching 10,000 members, then 25,000, 50,000 to well over 90 thousand members today.
Baja Bound would continue to sponsor Talk Baja all along the way and our members would acknowledge the excellent service they provided their customers via repeated auto insurance surveys.
In each survey, our membership was asked to rate their experiences with the different Mexican auto insurance providers and each time, Baja Bound came out on top both in overall satisfaction as well as the key category of those who experienced having to file an auto insurance claim.
For those of you who haven’t had to go through the experience of filing an auto insurance claim in Mexico, it’s an adventure quite different from anything you might have gone through north of the border and that is when reality hits, the lightbulb comes on telling you that it really does matter who you choose to purchase your Mexican insurance policy from.
Formula for success
Baja Bound has built a rock solid reputation of proactive, responsive customer service for their customers over the years and why they have developed such a loyal customer base with many of our members sharing their personal stories of how Baja Bound stepped in to help them cut through all the (green, white and) red tape, when having to deal with an insurance claim in Mexico.
We have also heard lots of nightmarish tales from others who purchased a Mexican auto insurance policy from someone else, only to find little to no support when they had to file a claim with stories of fighting low ball estimates from adjusters, poorly done and incomplete repairs and having to literally make dozens and dozens of trips back and forth to Mexico to even get it done at all.
I am proud and honored to have Baja Bound as our core sponsor through all these years, supporting Talk Baja as we continued to grow into such a large and culturally diverse community that has branched out into the creation of many additional Baja themed groups and pages under the Talk Baja brand, covering a myriad of different yet parallel topics such as weather, road conditions, sport-fishing, border crossing information, crime / safety and others as well as several independent websites that in total, represents over a half million members, followers and subscribers today.
Baja Bound not only provides the very best in Mexican auto insurance as well as sponsoring events, race teams and the Talk Baja community but also contributes back to Baja’s most needy, supporting the building of homes for the underprivileged, orphanages and many other worthy, charitable causes.
A strategic partnership
With Baja roots dating back to when we were all just young kids, we each share a passionate love for this amazing peninsula and I believe we all feel incredibly fortunate to be involved with the Baja experience for so many people each day.
I know that’s what drives me to begin each day online at 5:00AM and often still keeps me up with my notebook in bed past 10:00PM.
It takes a lot of work and dedication to manage Baja Bound as well as Talk Baja and as we move to the next level, Baja Bound has made a commitment to not only continue supporting our growing online community as a sponsor but will also be sponsoring different events we will be hosting throughout each year as part of their role in this expanded, strategic partnership.
I will share more about that later.
For now, please accept my sincere thanks to each and every one of you for your loyal support to me and this community over the years and I would ask you now to – if you haven’t already – recognize the valuable support Baja Bound offers all of us as well as giving them the opportunity to be your auto insurance provider when driving south of the border into Mexico.
I would consider it a personal favor and know that you’re giving something back to Baja when you do…