2013 Best Insurance Brokerage: George Petersen Insurance Agency
Author: Beth Galleto
May, 2013 Issue
“Even though our team operates in a world where information is instantaneous, what hasn’t changed is the human condition.” —Tony Guerrero
Tony Guerrero attributes George Petersen Insurance Agency’s repeated selection as Best Insurance Brokerage to its staff’s keen ability to communicate on a meaningful level. Guerrero moved to insurance from the technology industry to join the brokerage in 2001 and became its newest partner two years ago.
“We’re in an age now where there’s an expectation that, if you reach out for service, your message gets sent through a maze of ‘push one for service, enter policy number, push two….’ By the time you get to someone, you expect to be dealt with as a number,” says Guerrero. But, he says, the staff at George Petersen Insurance Agency (GP) has a different attitude.
The company was founded in Eureka in 1935 and, after nearly 80 years, its staff recognizes that the essentials of good business haven’t changed. Clients still need to communicate their problems, and insurance brokers need to help them understand their risks and offer appropriate solutions.
“Even though our team operates in a world where information is instantaneous, what hasn’t changed is the human condition. People want to know they matter, that they’re special to someone. We recognize there’s a person on the other end, and once they’ve spoken, someone listens, collaborates and gets the information they need. People want to communicate on a human level. That’s the most important part of what we do,” he says.
Another reason for its success, he says, is that the organization is large enough—with more than 170 employees and a dozen regional offices including Santa Rosa and Napa—to offer a variety of solutions including homeowner, personal and auto, as well as a full suite of commercial insurance. This includes corporate general liability, workers’ compensation and full employee benefits. The agency specializes in providing intensive consultation, customized programs and personalized service.
As an independently owned agency not affiliated with any particular insurance provider, it can offer products from various companies. “We can identify your risk and match you with the right carrier from both the coverage and pricing standpoint,” says Guerrero.
Last year, the company’s Santa Rosa office moved to a new location to better accommodate a staff of more than 70 (following a merger with another company in the previous year). As it expands, GP is able to offer insurance in specialized areas such as the construction and wine industries. It now collaborates with the North Coast Builders Exchange to develop its workers’ compensation program and is moving forward with offerings specialized for wineries and vineyard management in Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties, Guerrero says.
The company has developed technology that provides services beyond procurement of insurance products, adds Guerrero. Examples in human resources include reviewing a client’s employee handbook, conducting safety meetings and assisting with workers’ compensation claims administration.
Guerrero admits insurance can be expensive, so the ability of an agent to diagnose risk expectation properly and give appropriate advice is important. This depends to a large extent on an agent’s training and experience. Training is a big part of GP’s culture and so is specialization in particular fields of expertise. “Our mantra internally is ‘service and expertise,’” he says.
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