Cyber Risk Hits Home: 4 (true) Stories

by P. Andersen

I wanted to share 4 Cyber stories – these are actual stories that have happened in the past year or so, most caught before the problem escalated.  Each story represents a core problem businesses and individuals face every day in this fast paced world, and no company is immune from the dangers.  What do we recommend for our business clients?

 

Education: Educate your staff, and have policies and procedures to prevent opening or sending/forwarding of potentially corrupt emails/attachments/web-links.   There are now services available that can send your employees fake emails to test how well they avoid clicking on potential viruses.

Invest: Invest in technology and expert staff or consultants, to ensure you have effective and up-to-date protection (firewalls, email scanning software, etc.)

Insure: Purchase a cyber-liability and data-breach insurance policy, which can help pay for expenses your company incurs as a result of a cyber/data breach event, and/or expenses for which your company is liable, if you accidentally cause a cyber/data-breach event affecting others.   Annual premiums can range from around $1,000 to $10,000 or more, depending on your company’s size, operations, number of personnel/client files, and amount and type of coverages… perhaps well worth it, given the increasing threat of cyber/data-breach events for companies of all sizes.

 

Story 1: Small Business Beware

First, we discuss a firm that was nearly tricked into a substantial wire transfer, why they didn’t fall for the scam, and what coverage would have responded had they sent the money…  A small business client of ours nearly fell victim to a “spear phishing” campaign, a targeted email request based on intimate knowledge of the key players in the business.  The wife and bookkeeper received an email that appeared to be from her husband, asking her to wire money to a seemingly known recipient.  The instructions were not unusual – the wiring of funds and how the email was received were both “normal”, and the recipient was familiar.  The wife took the extra step of calling her husband to verify that the wire transfer request was real, and was grateful she did.  The husband verified that he had made no such request.

As in this case, your firm should ALWAYS double check any financial email request, BY PHONE, before acting.  Note that if an email has been compromised, replying to the email may get you a response from the hacker, telling you that the bogus payment is acceptable.  Always get a verbal response before proceeding.  This “spear phishing” scam has been responsible for countless millions of dollars being sent to cyber criminals.  In the heat of the moment, when time is short, a seemingly accurate email may be acted upon without any verification, and money sent to untraceable sources.  If you do not have proper cyber coverage, the money is lost and there is no recourse.

What Cyber Coverage Applies?  Social Engineering

“Spear Phishing” is considered “Social Engineering”, because cyber criminals invest time to learn about an individual before approaching them.  “Social Engineering” coverage is an available option on certain cyber liability policies – see your Cyber Liability quotation or policy for details.

 

Story 2: The Inadvertent Infection

It is said that the greatest cyber risk to a company is not a hole in a firewall, server, or anti-virus program, but employees sitting at their computers.  When you mix technological holes with human error, the risks rise considerably.

A Levitt-Fuirst client, through an unknown series of events, received a virus on an employee’s workstation.  When that employee inadvertently sent an email containing the virus to another company, and the virus infected that business partner’s network, a potential liability was created.  At the very least, a company whose employee sends a virus to another company may be expected to pay to correct the cyber damage caused.  Experts agree – if you send a virus to another individual or firm, even if you have no idea you are doing it, you can be held liable for the damages incurred by your mistake.

What Cyber Coverage Applies?  Security & Privacy Liability

Security & Privacy Liability protects your company from liability resulting from a security and privacy wrongful act, including failure to safeguard electronic or non-electronic confidential information, failure to prevent virus attacks, denial of service attacks or the transmission of malicious code from your computer system to the computer system of another party.

 

Story 3: Sharing Private Information

In today’s fast paced world of deadlines, we sometimes do things too fast, without double checking the details.  A financial services client, under deadline, emailed payroll accounts to the wrong client.  These payroll reports contained extensive “Personally Identifiable Information” (PII) including names and social security numbers.  Federal law requires any entity that shares PII, or has files containing stolen PII, to identify those impacted by the breach, notify all impacted individuals or parties, and an offer credit monitoring to those impacted individuals or parties.

In this case, the list of individuals was clear, but forensic expense to find out if data was stolen and who is impacted, could have run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars – simply to understand who the impacted individuals or groups were!

What Cyber Coverage Applies?  Breach Event Costs

Breach Event Costs is coverage for reasonable mitigationcosts and expenses incurred as a result of a privacy breach, security breach or adverse media report, including legal expenses, public relations expenses, advertising and IT forensic expenses, postage, and the cost to provide call centers, credit monitoring and identity theft assistance.  The coverage also includes coverage for Proactive Privacy Breach Response Costs – public relations expenses incurred in response to a privacy breach, but prior to the publication of an adverse media report, in an effort to avert or mitigate the potential impact of such an adverse media report on the insured’s reputation. Coverage also includes Voluntary Notification Expenses – expenses incurred in notifying affected parties of a privacy breach where there is no requirement by law to do so.

 

Story 4: The Non-Profit and The Board

Recently, a non-profit client of Levitt-Fuirst suffered a spear phishing, or social engineering, attack that almost bore fruit.  We have all seen emails that appear to be from someone we know, but realize (by good sense or a note of warning) that it is a scam.  Most often, these are “Spoofed” email addresses – the user wasn’t hacked, but their email address was faked to entice you into clicking.

The board president of our non-profit client had his email address spoofed, and an email was sent to other board members “from” the board president.  The note asked each board member to pay some vendors this month because the non-profit didn’t have the cash available.  The email said the board members would be reimbursed once dues were collected.   One board member, knowing the financial challenges the non-profit sometimes faced, surmised that the request was not unreasonable, and sent a check via overnight delivery.  Luckily, this board member realized her mistake and quickly put a stop payment on her check and called the overnight company to stop delivery of the check…  Crisis (barely) averted.

What Cyber Coverage Applies?  Social Engineering

“Spear Phishing” is considered “Social Engineering”, because cyber criminals invest time to learn about an individual before approaching them.  “Social Engineering” coverage is an available option on certain cyber liability policies – see your Cyber Liability quotation or policy for details.

2018 Paid Family Leave – What You Need To Know About the New Law

In 2018, New York will implement one of the most complete Paid Family Leave laws in the United States.  The law will be applicable to every employed New Yorker, and the policy will piggy back onto your current business Disability policy.  There are decisions to be made, however, and now is the time to begin the process.
What is Paid Family Leave?

Starting in January 2018, Paid Family Leave (PFL) becomes a mandatory benefit in New York, providing employees with job protection and paid time off for these qualifying events:

  • Providing care for family member with serious health condition
    • Child
    • Parent
    • Spouse
    • Grandparent
    • Grandchild
    • Domestic Partner
  • Bonding leave after giving birth, adoption, or welcoming a child into foster care
  • Qualifying military service

Employees are also guaranteed to be able to return to their job and continue their health insurance. If you contribute to the cost of your health insurance, you must continue to pay your portion of the premium cost while on Paid Family Leave

Benefits

 

Year Weeks Available Max % of Employee Average Weekly Wage Cap % of State Average Weekly Wage Max based on current NY AWW of $1305.92
1/1/2018 8 50% 50% $652.96
1/1/2019 10 55% 55% $718.26
1/1/2020 10 60% 60% $783.55
1/1/2021 12 67% 67% $874.97

Examples: In 2018, an employee who makes $1,000 a week would receive a benefit of $500 a week (50% of $1,000). Another employee who makes $2,000 a week would receive a benefit of approximately $652, because this employee is capped at one-half of New York State’s Average Weekly Wage (NYSAWW) —currently $1,305.92. Half of that amount is the $652 benefit.

The Average Weekly Wage (AWW) is set every year after a comprehensive analysis by the New York State Department of Labor.

Who is eligible?

  • All covered employees working for covered employers in the State of New York
  • Coverage applies to both full and part time employees
  • Full time employees are eligible after 26 weeks of being hired. Part-time employees are eligible after 175 days of being hired.

How it works:

  • PFL coverage will automatically be endorsed onto your Statutory Short Term Disability Policy (DBL) effective 1/1/18.
  • Benefits can be 100% employee funded via payroll deduction or Employer can choose to pay all or part of it.
  • The weekly contribution rate is 0.126% of the employee’s weekly wage capped at the statewide wage of $1305.92 which translates to a maximum contribution of $1.65 per week or just under $86 per year per person.

Important Resources For PFL:

A Family Owned Business, A Family Atmosphere

by P. Andersen

The Business Council of Westchester 2017 Hall of Fame

On April 25th, Levitt-Fuirst Associates was honored to receive the Hall of Fame Family Owned Business Award, presented by the Business Council of Westchester.  The evening included 5 other award recipients (Montefiore, Valerie Wilson Travel, Better Homes & Gardens Rand Realty, Leason Ellis Law Firm, and DeCicco & Sons Grocer) along with 680 attendees, and was held at the beautiful venue of Glen Island Harbor Club in New Rochelle.  We were honored to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and 40 or so Levitt-Fuirst employees, along with many of our clients and business partners, attended the event.

Watch the short video the Business Council created to tell the story of Levitt-Fuirst.

The Levitt-Fuirst Family

The Family Business Award is fitting for Levitt-Fuirst, as we were founded by David Levitt and Alan Fuirst in 1969, and continues to flourish today with Ken Fuirst, Jason Schiciano (Son-in-law to David Levitt), Valerie Levitt, and Ondrea Levitt all continuing the two-family tradition.  It is also fitting because the business is not simply run by two families, it is run like a family.  The employees at Levitt-Fuirst are treated as a part of the LF family, with trips to Long Beach Island every year, regular after work meet-ups to celebrate “Non-Work Related” events (Cinco de Mayo 2017, here we come!), monthly birthday events, holiday parties, and many other events for employees and our families.  We work together, spend time outside of work together, and volunteer together – as a family.

Like any family, there are ups and downs – but like any family, we stick together.  Levitt-Fuirst has had amazingly low turnover of its staff, something that is unusual in the very aggressive insurance brokerage industry.  In our region, we compete with the largest regional and national brokerage firms – they are known to churn employees at a startling rate.  In the middle of this storm, Levitt-Fuirst keeps its people by treating them like human beings, and by understanding that to be a true leader in our industry, you must hire and keep good people.

Consistency

I have been at Levitt-Fuirst for 6+ years, and most of the faces I started with are still here.  There are many more faces, mind you – we have added 20 employees since that time – but the core people I met when I began work here continue to plug along with me day after day.  During Jason’s BCW acceptance speech, he mentioned 3 people in particular, evidencing what Levitt-Fuirst stands for.  Louise Rush just finished her 25th year at Levitt-Fuirst (you would never guess by looking at her).  Louise has worked in just about every department in the office – our office’s swiss army knife, doing what needs to be done wherever her talents are needed.  Jose Arevalo began as a mail clerk, and is now a million-dollar producer.  Jose always joked he is Ken’s younger brother, because Alan Fuirst always treated him like a son.  Kimberly Vargas was a receptionist, and is now the exceptional manager of our Personal Lines department, a highly profitable and essential piece of our business.  3 stories, unique to the industry but not unique to Levitt-Fuirst.

The Family Owned Business Award was fitting, on many levels.  The Levitt & Fuirst families have built a great business, relying on a great staff.  The staff stays because we are treated well, and our opinions matter.  Because we have good people, and consistent staffing, our clients are better served.  Because our clients are happy (Levitt-Fuirst retains clients on an exceptional level), we continue to grow.  With growth, we hire more top notch employees.  With our continued growth, we moved to a new office in Tarrytown, NY in 2016, and opened a Bonding office in New Jersey in 2017.  We are happy with what we have been able to attain as a team, but are not satisfied – we look forward to the next challenge to continue to grow – as a family.

We want to thank the BCW for recognizing the Levitt-Fuirst Family, the entire Levitt-Fuirst family, for this award.  We truly appreciate the honor.

Part 2: The Right Home for Levitt-Fuirst

by P. Andersen

520 Exterior

520 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY

Last week, I told you about the technology changes Levitt-Fuirst is going through. These are big updates to how we do business, and we are working hard to make the transition as smooth as possible. You would think that such a big adjustment in 2016 would be enough, but that is just the start.

Change #2: Levitt-Fuirst Is On The Move!

Levitt-Fuirst has been growing for some time now – pretty much from our inception in 1969. When I joined the firm 5 ½ years ago, we had just under 40 employees. We are now over 55 full and part time employees, and we continue to grow. This growth is a testament to the hard work and guidance of our Co-President’s Ken Fuirst and Jason Schiciano, the quality of employees they have attracted to the firm, and you, our clients. As our business has grown, our staffing needs have grown; as our staff has grown, our current office space has… Stayed exactly the same size.

Levitt-Fuirst has been in Yonkers for a very long time, but our location on Executive Blvd. has been getting very busy lately. We are seeing the construction of hotels, retail space, and office space; and these changes have made the traffic worse by the day. Commutes for our staff have been increasing as the Saw Mill backs up in all directions. Several months ago, a beautiful unfinished space became available, and we are proud to say we have signed a lease at 520 White Plains Road in Tarrytown. The office search was a long time in the making, but the space we are moving into was worth the wait – it is a true upgrade in both size and quality.

520 Lobby

520 Lobby

The new space will allow Levitt-Fuirst to continue to grow, and the quality of the building is unbelievable. We are building a healthy environment from scratch, with natural light, an open layout, and exceptional air and temperature controls. The space will be efficient, the layout designed for staff cooperation, and the technology and inernet access exceedingly fast in preparation for our new cloud based software. I think I speak for all of us here when I say how excited we are about this change.

Every business is faced with changes, both good and bad. It is a testament to our management, our staff, and especially our clientele that Levitt-Fuirst has become one of the most successful independent insurance agencies in the region. Growth requires an openness to change, and these recent events should tell you that we don’t plan to rest on past success – we are sure that the best is yet to come. Thank you for joining us for the ride and helping to make all of this happen. Be sure to stick around, though, because we are just getting started…

The Right Tool for the Job

by P. Andersen

Cat5

I have to apologize… I have been remiss in my blogging in 2016, a function of the changes taking place here at Levitt-Fuirst. As with any business, changes happen – both good and bad. I am happy to report that we are in the middle of the very good kind of change, with exciting things taking place later this year. These changes have taken a bite out of my time, but I think I am just rationalizing. With that in mind, I thought it was time to get back to work on the blog, to let you know what is happening here at Levitt-Fuirst.

We have two big changes coming down the pike, today we will look at the first.

Change #1: Computer Software Upgrade.

Back in 2014, I wrote a blog about having the right tool for the job (Tool Shopping at Applied.net). Take a look at that post, because it is as true today as it was then. Go ahead, I will wait for you!

Fast forward to September 2015, when Levitt-Fuirst began the process of upgrading to the newest, most powerful software tool for insurance agencies. Since 1999, we have been on Applied Systems’ flagship program, The Agency Manager. This all-inclusive management program is utilized by nearly 10,000 independent agents across the US, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Last fall, Levitt-Fuirst took the plunge and decided to upgrade to the latest, most powerful software offered by Applied Systems, their new flagship program Epic.

How will this impact Levitt-Fuirst? How will this impact you?

The impact on Levitt-Fuirst is ongoing. The process takes a year, and we are working diligently to make the transition as smooth as possible. We have a vanguard of staff testing the new software, learning its nuances, and finding flaws in the transfer of data. We plan to “go live” in Late September, and the full staff training will take place this summer and fall. During go live, we expect a stressful time as we move from the old and comfortable to the new and different. By 2017, we will be much more comfortable in our new processes, and the new will become the comfortable.

The impact on our clients are many. First and foremost, we are expecting a more efficient system, allowing us to better serve you. The system will better document our interactions with you and our carrier partners, improving the information we have on hand, and speeding up our processes.

Second, the new program is cloud based, allowing our staff to work from any location with internet connectivity. Should there be a regional calamity, we can shift our operations to any location with internet access. In 2014, we moved our email to Microsoft’s cloud based Office365, and our telephone system will be moved to a cloud based vendor this summer. The net result of all of these changes is in the event of a disaster, be it regional or very local, we will have the tools to be up and running quickly and efficiently. When your profession is protecting your clients in the event of a claim, having an emergency plan for your own systems is essential.

To some, it may seem odd to write about what software we are using in our insurance office. To me, it is incredibly important to let you know that as the world is changing, Levitt-Fuirst is changing right along with it. We are not dragging our feet, we are actively pursuing a technological path that will help us take care of our clients’ needs today and tomorrow.

We appreciate your trust in Levitt-Fuirst, and these changes give us the tools to continue to earn your trust into the future.

 

 

“Why I love being an insurance agent.”

LF_logo_ReflexBlue

Being an insurance agent means different things to different people – why each of us loves our job differs from person to person.    We thought it might be interesting for you to find out what drives some of our employees, what makes us tick, and what makes us love insurance.  Crazy as it sounds, we do – insurance helps people in their time of need, and we take that very seriously.  You should be with an agent that loves what they do, shouldn’t you?


Jose Arevalo, Producer and Account Manager, Construction Department

When clients are purchasing insurance it’s something they can’t see or feel and it is my job to inform them and make them aware of all the necessary insurance policies they need.

Consumers aren’t aware of the many different types of insurance policies that can be taken out on their home, automobile or business.  As much as the consumer may not want to purchase some of the most necessary insurances, it is my job to inform and let them know just why it will be suitable to them in the long run. The most rewarding part of my job is when something goes wrong with the insured’s possessions and they are covered. It puts a smile on my face knowing that I helped them save some extra cash.


Joseph Balaez, Manager, Business Market Segment

I love dealing and meeting with new people on a daily basis, learning about their insurance needs, and arranging new insurance programs that best meet their needs. It is our job to arrange this partnership between our clients and insurance carriers, and doing that well is something that I really enjoy.


Pamela Cerny, Claims Manager

I really enjoy helping people, and working in this field gives me the opportunity to do that in many ways. Helping clients in some of the most difficult times in their lives, dealing with tragedies, loss of homes, or automobiles is the hardest thing to see, but is the most rewarding part of my job. Working in the insurance field is definitely challenging and at times demanding, but you feel needed.

What I have discovered over the 23 years that I have dedicated to the insurance industry is that it is a never ending learning experience, there’s always something more to learn. There is always constant change and you just have to be ready to adapt to it. There’s never a dull moment, and I don’t always go to work knowing what will happen but, whatever happens I’m always prepared for it.

My job is beyond interesting and I am very passionate about what I do.

Welcome to the New & Improved Levitt-Fuirst Website and Blog!

by P. Andersen

Welcome to the New & Improved Levitt-Fuirst Website!

We have been working on updating our website for some time now, with an eye toward giving you a better understanding of our business, and offering you the tools you need to make informed risk management decisions.  The old website was useful, but didn’t grow with us over the years, and much has changed since we first brought that website live.  Today, we are a larger insurance agency, with a more diverse client base than ever before.  We have grown through referrals, through our clients growth, and through a broadening of our offerings.  Our staff has grown as well, with each experienced hire offering our clients new expertise and perspective.   All of this adds up to a better firm for you.

With these changes and growth, it was clearly time to let our website do the same.  Today, Levitt-Fuirst has several new departments, handling a broader range of client activities.  Read about all of our business and personal insurance options on the new Insurance Specialties page.  Learn about our management and sales staff on the Firm Bios page.  Learn about our partnership with JDM Associates on the Health Insurance page.

We hope you like our new website, but are always open to your thoughts and ideas.  Let us know what you think, we look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Tool Shopping at Applied.net

by P. Andersen, 9/17/14

Applied

We talk a lot about insuring your home and business, and how Levitt-Fuirst is your advocate when you have a claim. We talk about the coverages you need, the risks you face, and how we are your advisors in the insurance marketplace. This is all essential for you to know and trust us with your insurance business.

Today, I am flying down to Orlando to attend a conference held by Applied Systems, the software vendor that Levitt Fuirst works with to manage the accounts of our clients like you. As I sit on my flight at 40 thousand feet, I realized that the tools we employ to manage your account might interest you too, because having the right tool is essential to a job well done.

The Software

Levitt Fuirst utilizes one of the largest agent specific software packages in the industry. Yours truly worked for Applied Systems a lifetime ago (15 years now?) as a trainer, and after 5 years, moved to the agency side to make a living. The program has evolved in my time in the industry – I joined Applied 20 years ago just as the windows version was developed to replace the dos system – to the point today that that we have a robust communication and information tracking tool whose sole purpose is to make sure you have the coverage you need. The program manages every aspect of your account, from inception and quoting, to carrier communication and industry forms creation, to billing, to claims handling. It is amazing all the software does, and amazing the training and expertise your account executives need to possess to handle your account as well as they do.

Insurance is complex, and managing your account requires a great deal of skill. These tools we employ make that process faster, more efficient, more secure, and more accurate every day. For you!

The Conference

So, about the conference… Each year, Applied Systems and the agency users group that works with them put on an educational conference. This year, it is in Orlando, FL. Having worked for Applied, it is a homecoming of sorts, with old friends I was trained by and trained with many years ago, still friends 20 years later. The classes offered include a wide array of selections, from hardware to software to integrated technologies that are all designed to make Levitt Fuirst run smoother, and to make your experience better.

The classes are great, taught by Applied employees, end users, and ancillary company employees that work with Applied. A second benefit is in the relationships you build. Just last week, a good friend from a New Jersey agency helped me with some word integration problems I was having, and another friend I met at conference 5-6 years ago is an Applied expert on the newest version of their software – she is invaluable as Levitt Fuirst charts its technology course over the next 5 years.

What To Learn This Week?

So what do I plan to learn this week? I have a short list that I feel will benefit my co-workers in Westchester, and all of our clients like you. First, Levitt Fuirst utilizes CSR24, a web based program that allows our clients to print their own certificates and auto id’s. CSR24 was bought by Applied Systems, and I am looking to see what new integrations are available in the latest release, which went live last week. Do you want to print your own certs and auto id’s? Call us, we will set you up!

Applied Systems also has a new cloud based software solution. Levitt Fuirst is considering the upgrade, for a myriad of good reasons, and I plan to begin the process of planning the many steps to upgrade. Both the classes explaining the process and the old and new friends that have or are currently going through the process, add up to a wealth of valuable information.

There are classes on carrier communications (software to software), and proposal design and mobile client management – each filling a need for Levitt Fuirst, so that we can be a better partner to you.

So that is my weeks plan. Learn, reminisce, learn some more. We at Levitt Fuirst feel that you have to have the right tool for the job, and this week, I am tool shopping. All for you.

Why An Independent Agent?

by Peter Andersen, 8/13/14

 

Levitt-Fuirst is an independent insurance agent. Got it? Got it! Wait… What is an independent insurance agent again? Better yet, why would you want an independent insurance agent??? What about that insurance company you see on TV? You know them, with the cute commercials with the memorable characters and the catchy tag lines – why not one of those companies instead of Levitt-Fuirst, or some other independent agent? Good question!

First, let’s clarify the different ways to get insurance.

Direct Writer:

These are the companies you see on TV. They are big, and they sell the insurance that they want to sell at a specific price. They are called “direct writers” because the insurance companies sell their insurance policies directly to the consumer. Some direct writers work primarily through the web or over the phone, while others have “brick and mortar” locations, or agents that are only allowed to write those insurance companies.

Independent Insurance Agents and their Carriers:

On the other end of the spectrum is the independent insurance agent. The concept of an independent insurance agent has been around for a long time, and this agency/carrier model handled a vast majority of the insurance sales in the US for a long long time. The concept is that a licensed insurance professional would contract with various carriers to sell those carrier’s insurance products. The agents, or agencies, are able to offer a wide array of products to their clients, because they are not limited to the “appetite” of one particular carrier. That is, an individual insurance company may say they want to write small shop keepers, but maybe not those shops in the Bronx. Or maybe they want to write construction risks, but maybe not those that involve asbestos or heights. Real Estate? Some love it, but not if it is in the wrong part of town, or near any water… Each insurance carrier must make such “appetite” decisions, but an independent agent can work with a broad group of insurance carriers, so that they can offer a wider range of products. If one carrier won’t write in the Bronx, another will!

Now that we have that cleared up, let’s discuss the role of the insurance agency…

Middle Man vs. Advocate

If you talk to those direct writers, you may hear that they are saving you money by “cutting out the middle man”. There is a grain of truth to this, but it misses the most important point. Let me ask you a question:

Who works for you?

When you buy an insurance policy from a direct writer, you are the consumer, they are the seller. This is a common way of doing business – it is the same as the grocery store, for example. They sell, you buy. Why not for insurance? The answer to the question in this scenario is twofold.

First, insurance is not a carrot – it is complex, it is riddled with insurance specific wording, and it involves a lot of risk if you are not covered for a claim. If a carrot is bad, you can see it. If an insurance policy has terrible exclusions that render it useless for you under some common circumstances, would you know? Complexity requires expertise…

Part two is the advocacy. With those direct writers, nobody is looking out for your interest. They are selling, you are buying. The Independent Agent, however, is different. It is true, we sign contracts with the carrier, but independent agents are officially working FOR the consumer. I don’t know how clear that is out in the world at large, but if you remember one thing, remember this – we work for you! We are licensed by the state in which we sell insurance, and our clients are you, the purchasers of the policy. The carriers are our business partner, but you are our client, and if it comes to a claim or an increase – we fight for you!

My 3 E’s: Experience, Education, Effort

If I had to sum up why you want an independent agent, I would tell you about the 3 E’s…

Experience: Independent agents have been there and done that. We understand what you need, because we have other clients that have needed that before. We know what carriers like the risks you pose, be it personal (home, auto, watercraft, valuable articles, etc…), or business (retail, wholesale, commercial real estate, construction, etc…). When you are looking for a policy, don’t you want to work with someone that has your best interest at heart, and loads of experience with people just like you?

Education: Independent Agents are required to take licensing courses every few years, amounting to tens of hours of training. To become an agent in the first place, we spend literally months in a classroom, after work, on weekends, before work, studying and preparing for the very difficult, comprehensive insurance exams required by the state. If you are going to buy insurance, don’t you want to buy it from the guy that has that education, AND is working for YOU?

Effort: You are our client. We want to keep you as our client, even if you have a claim, even if your circumstances change. Maybe you move to a big place on the water, or your son just got another ticket. It is our job to find an insurance carrier that offers you excellent coverage at a competitive price, even if one carrier non-renews you, or rejects you. What happens if that direct writer gets tired of your shenanigans? No soup for you!

Claim-Form

The idea of the middleman gets a bad rap sometimes. When the world is complex, having an expert on your side is nothing to sneeze at. If you are buying a used car, you should have a mechanic you trust check it out. If you are buying a house, you would want an expert do an inspection. When you are buying an engagement ring, getting the diamond appraised is a great idea. And when buying insurance for your most prized possessions or for your most essential business interest? Come to us. We are here for you, and always happy to see you – even if your son DID just get another speeding ticket…