Agency Spotlight: Brightway Insurance the Steve Bennett Office
For Steve Bennett of Brightway, a native to Tarpon Springs, insurance runs deep in his roots. As a third-generation property insurance agent in Florida, it all began when he started working at his father’s State Farm Agency in the early 2000s where he “witnessed incredible changes in the marketplace. State Farm withdrew their homeowners product from the state and Citizens Property Insurance Corporation ballooned in size. Sound familiar? We were stuck with Citizens, as were our policyholders. I felt like there had to be a better way to serve our clients. Coverage limitations, underwriting restrictions, and less-than-stellar claims support became far more prominent. We needed more flexibility and the independent path provided just that.”
The agency opened its doors in 2012, a year after Steve graduated from the University of Florida. He shared, “There was much blood, sweat, and tears invested in the early years, and even as we near the decade mark, it feels like just yesterday.” They now have 6 employees total and Steve noted, “We’re truly a family-operated agency; Jeffrey and Michael are my brothers. Shawn and Dakota are our good friends. Maria was our former teacher and joined us after nearly 20 years with the school system. We’ve been fortunate to have no personnel turnover since we’ve opened.”
Back to Front: Michael Bennett, Steve Bennett, Shawn Linder, Maria Tsongranis, Jeffrey Bennett
Fast forward to 2021, when asked what do you think of the changes in the insurance market? “It is undoubtedly the most frustrating time our market has ever seen.” While navigating during this time (2020-2021,) how have things changed for your agency? He shared, “We’ve had to dedicate far more of our focus to serving the needs of our existing clientele. We’re touching our clients far more frequently this year as we sift through underwriting guidelines and capacity restrictions. Processes that took 10 minutes now takes 30. We’ve added more manpower to adequately support the needs of our clients.”
The biggest misconceptions or misunderstanding in insurance sounds frustratingly familiar and what most, if not all of us can relate to.
“Individuals are constantly bombarded with marketing materials from the property insurance marketplace via all forms of media. From TV commercials to magazine pages to electronic ads and social media, property insurers do not hesitate to invest in marketing. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these ads focus on price, turning a blind eye entirely on the coverage side. In the real world, the inverse should hold true. For this reason, it is often our job to educate our clients as to their exposure and means to protect themselves.”
This is where we find our jobs in Insurance difficult to navigate. Finding a balance when looking to serve clients’ needs without foregoing important coverages seems like an impossible task at times. Remembering the big picture and just how important of a role we play in clients’ lives is crucial. To help keep this in the forefront, I think we can all agree with Steve, “The Golden Rule should always be adhered to, whether it be in your business or personal life. We treat each policy as if it were our own.” For his agency, “This concept leads to diligent front-end underwriting, attention to detail and commitment to our work.”
Steve also believes there are Florida-specific issues that need addressing, the overly litigious nature of our insurance market, along with AOB and fee multipliers.
When asked why do you choose Olympus? Steve explained, “Olympus combines strong claims support with an exceptionally robust policy form. Their policy form provides many coverages which are rarely seen on a standard Florida policy without endorsements or buy-backs. Full water coverage, check. Wind-driven rain, check. Screen enclosure coverage, check. The list goes on and on. This ensures confidence and peace of mind for both the client as well as our agency.” He feels Olympus is best for his clients as, “they can evacuate from the state while still sleeping soundly away from home with the knowledge their assets are well protected.” Adding on where he finds the most success, “Olympus does a great job on new home construction HO3’s and builder’s risk.”
Over the years, what he finds he likes most about insurance is “Every day brings new challenges. It’s tough to get bored in the midst of so much change.” I am sure we can all agree with that!