By Maureen N. Maratita
Annmarie T. Muna, 59, president of AM Insurance Inc. has achieved much throughout her life and 25 years in business.
She is also self-reflective and can tell you what drives her, what motivates her to success, and what she also set out to achieve as she continues to make her mark in the community.
Born and raised on Guam, Annmarie’s education followed a classic path. She attended San Vicente Catholic School and Academy of Our Lady of Guam. But because of a love of math — and foreshadowing the hard work that would take her far — in high school she worked part time as a bookkeeper for Sister Mary Stephen, the vice principal of Academy of Our Lady of Guam and also had a summer job at Guam Memorial Hospital as a microfilm clerk. Muna would also work briefly as a sales clerk at Casa de Moda upon leaving high school.
Muna says, “I enjoyed all my jobs and learned something different from each one. They helped mold me to be the person I am today.”
A graduate with top honors from the University of Guam, Muña holds a 1983 bachelor’s in business administration with a double major in management and public administration.
She says, “At that time, a GovGuam job was highly sought after, and I wanted to have the qualifications to get a good government job, so I majored in public administration. But I also majored in management, to be equally qualified for any job outside of the government.”
Muna was invited to be UOG’s commencement speaker on Dec. 22 for the fall or fanuchanan 2019 semester.
Muna’s significant journey in the insurance industry began as an insurance clerk and she worked her way up to become an underwriter. She gained valuable insight into marketing and underwriting as a production manager at Universe Insurance Underwriters Inc., where she was a manager for 13 years. Her professional training includes marketing and underwriting for casualty, property, auto, bond, aviation and marine insurance.
International training Muna completed includes seminars in aviation, bonds, energy and liens insurance.
Muna formed AM Insurance in January 1994, in response, she says “to a growing need for excess and surplus coverage for large local companies.” She started her company in the garage of her parent’s home with only one employee and two clients. Today, AM Insurance has more than 20 employees and occupies three offices in Jones & Guerrero Co. Inc.’s J&G Commercial Center in Hagatna and services many commercial, government and personal accounts.
Muna is conscious of her role as a businesswoman and in her industry. She says, “Even though there are many women in the insurance industry on Guam, you will find that at the very top levels of management, it is still very much male-dominated. This is even more true of the insurance industry internationally. “I worked very hard to gain the respect of my male counter-parts.” However, she says, “Being very skilled in the technical aspects of the industry was instrumental in my success. Lots of self-study, off-island training and networking were necessary to get ahead and come this far.”
With more than 40 years of insurance knowledge and experience, Muna is also a licensed insurance broker who is qualified to access Excess and Surplus Lines insurance markets in Europe and America and is one of the most experienced brokers in the servicing of government accounts on Guam. She is also a licensed real estate broker.
Muna has always maintained a network for guidance. She says, “Mr. George Takagi [president of Takagi & Associates Inc.] was my biggest mentor when I first started my insurance career.” Writing in the AM Insurance 25th Anniversary supplement, Takagi says, “When I look back, I can tell that you were one of the pioneers who flourished as the first production manager in Guam.”
As she ventured out on her own, Muna says, Mr. Ray Martinez [assistant general manager of Calvo’s Insurance] was the person I looked to for advice on all local insurance matters.”
Additionally, Muna says, “It is Mr. Alan Rixon from London who I look to for advice on all international insurance issues.” Rixon, head of the international department at Harman Kemp North America Ltd. — a Lloyd’s Broker — says in the supplement, “Having worked with Annmarie Muna personally for the last 27 years when she started her insurance broking business …, I can attest to her skills and knowledge of her subjects and her unbridled passion for the business.
“During this period, Annmarie has been keen to develop relationships with her underwriting partners in London and she has been able to introduce members of her team to the London insurance market and has also encouraged some of her major clients to get in front of the risk carriers. This has shown great insight on her part.”
Rixon also praised Muna’s Am Insurance team which includes an impressive lineup of board directors and managers. The board includes Ikushi “Eddie” Harada, board vice president; Linette Muna Perez, treasurer; Donna Muna Quinata, director; and Ana Muna, secretary. Managers at AM Insurance are Antonita Blas, vice president of administrative services; Tricia Granillo, vice president of marketing and government accounts; Fred Granillo, vice president of finance, Juan Muna, vice president of underwriting services, Rodney Rankin, vice president of business development; and Jennifer Muna Aguon, special projects/advisor and IT support development.
Detail-oriented, and often on the “front line” herself, Muna says, “Knowing how things work on a daily basis will help you ensure that employees are engaged and motived and have the tools they need to succeed. This way they will be able and excited to deliver great service to your customers.”
She also says it’s important to “play as hard as you work.” The AM annual Halloween party with its costume competition is eagerly awaited by the group, as are company trips off-island for the Thanksgiving holiday.
AM Insurance was named as the Best Company to Work For by employees in the 2008 survey in Guam Business Magazine.
Antonita Blas has worked with Muna since March 2000. She says of her, “She’s very firm and she has high expectations, but as long you do your work, she’s fine. She’s a very busy woman, so she expects us to work independently. She works well under pressure and she likes burning that midnight oil. She’s focused at that point, and she’ll get it done. That’s her style.”
When it comes to the community, Blas says, “Annmarie really cares. A lot of times when decisions are to be made, she doesn’t just quickly respond. She really takes a lot of time to think over it and she looks at the whole picture.
“As much as Annmarie looks at growing her business, sometimes her wanting to help others is her decision. … Sometimes it’s based on that she wants to help … she’s really there for a lot of people.”
In addition to her successful insurance practice, Muna has ventured into other successful business enterprises. She is a shareholder and director of two locally, women-owned companies, Y Ma’gas Inc. and Sentada Inc., which does business as Balutan Queen. Y Magas Inc. started in September 2004 and provides administrative services, event planning and bookkeeping services to small businesses on the island. Balutan Queen is a café in the Bank of Guam building which started in 2007.
Muna was named the U.S. Small Business Administration 2008 Women in Business Champion of the Year for Guam.
She was also instrumental in the development and formation of the following companies and is a shareholder and officer as well in Guam Autospot, Sixt Rent A Car, The Kracked Egg, Renpower Corp. A/C Sales and AM Properties.
In line with her interests and her qualifications, Muna is a member of a significant number of organizations and sits on several boards. She currently serves as a board director for the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross and as a director of the board of governors for the Guam Community College Foundation. Muna is an officer of the Bill Muna Foundation and the Micronesian Cruise Association. Through her company, she is a business partner of the Airports Council International.
She was one of the first 30 charter members of Soroptimist International of the Marianas on Guam. Muna is also a member of the Guam Chamber of Commerce, Guam Contractor’s Association, Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Women in Construction, Guam Visitors Bureau, Guam Association of Realtors, Guam Hotel & Restaurant Association, Airport Councils International and the Association of Pacific Ports.
This year, in celebration of its AM’s 25th anniversary, Muna raised funds through a variety of events and donated $25,000 to the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross, $25,000 to the Bill Muna Foundation, $15,000 to Chief Hurao Inc. and $10,000 to Tohge Inc.
AMI makes contributions to numerous community organizations including the Guam Chapter of the American Red Cross, Academy of Our Lady of Guam, the Guam Community College Foundation, the Father Duenas Endowment Foundation, Guam Memorial Hospital Volunteers Association, Santa Teresita Catholic Church, PBS Guam, St Francis Catholic School, Guma Mami, St Paul Christian School, Chief Hurao Inc., the Saint Fidelis Friary Capuchins, Tohge Inc., the Association of Government Accountants, the Guam Steelers Football Team, the Salvation Army Guam, the Navy League of Guam, Guam Masters Baseball Association, Duk Duk Goose Inc. (Nihi), the Cal Ripkin & Babe Ruth Baseball League, Make-A-Wish Guam and CNMI, the Guam Chapter of the American Cancer Society, the UOG Endowment Foundation.
The Muna’s are a close-knit family, united in their support of each other and Muna says one of her distinct pleasures is spending time with them.
She says one of the greatest life lessons she learned was from her father, the late G. William P. “Bill” Muna.
“My dad always said to me, ‘If you give sincerely, it will come back to you tenfold.’ And he was right. There is so much unspeakable joy that comes from giving. And when you keep giving, you’ll find that you actually receive a lot more in return,” she says. “That is why I have played a very active role in the community throughout the years including numerous charitable organizations, youth programs and schools — because giving back to our people gives me purpose. It also gives me a sense of joy and pride that I am doing something meaningful and making a difference in people’s lives.”