For Whitney Ricci, being in the insurance industry means getting to share in the excitement of people on some of the best days of their lives – and being there for them on some of the hardest.
“People shopping for insurance are often at a crossroads in their lives,” Whitney says. “They are buying a home, starting a business, having a baby. It’s exciting! Then there is the other side, when they need to file a claim… and if we’ve done our job right on the front end – by recommending the right coverage – then we get to be heroes, because their insurance is there for them. That’s what I love about working in this industry.”
Whitney started out as an agent with State Farm. The carrier closed down new underwriting for property insurance in the Florida market in 2009, and Whitney missed insuring fellow Floridians. Whitney shifted to Florida-based Palm Insurance in 2014, three years after it was founded, and opened the company’s third agency location in Jacksonville.
“I wanted to offer my clients more options,” says Whitney. “Insurance is not one size fits all, and having my own agency allows me to recommend policies that provide custom coverage that fits each homeowner’s individual needs; not just the cheapest policy, but the best value on good protection.” Palm Insurance writes policies almost exclusively through referrals from a strong network of mortgage lenders and real estate brokers, and already had an established relationship with Olympus Insurance. As it turned out, so did Whitney.
“I was always aware of Olympus, because my husband is in mortgage lending, and Olympus has a great reputation,” she says, adding, “Thinking back, I actually have had my own insurance through Olympus since 2009. I remember looking at all the coverage and being extremely impressed at the value I was getting for the premium. Now, as an agency principal, I recommend it to many homeowners, because the coverages available from Olympus include so many things other policies don’t.”
Whitney specifically points to Olympus Insurance’s water damage coverage, wind-driven rain coverage, and coverage for other structures on a homeowner’s property as areas that make the carrier stand out, adding, “The flat rate hurricane deductibles are a big selling point as well – many people don’t realize their hurricane deductible on a home insured for $600,000 could be $12,000, and also aren’t really aching to pay out that much for repairs.” Understanding what’s covered, what’s not, and when coverage kicks in is the biggest challenge facing Florida homeowners, Whitney says. Recommending the right coverage is both a science and an art, to give each homeowner the best protection possible.
“People think buying insurance is like checking a box – “yes” means that you’re insured. That’s not necessarily the case. There are so many variables. Was the damage caused by a hurricane, or a fire? Are docks covered? What about outbuildings? We are always learning in the insurance business, and what Irma taught us is that we have to be vigilant about educating our insureds as well.” Whitney says she writes Olympus policies because they provide some of the broadest coverage on the market, and the claims service is excellent.
“We are committed to keeping our finger on the pulse of the industry, and as part of that, we do an informal poll of our clients and vendors after major weather events,” says Whitney. “We asked homeowners and contractors who was the best to work with when it came to carriers, and Olympus was consistently at the top of the list for both clients and vendors.” The personal relationship Whitney has built with Olympus Insurance also keeps her recommending them again and again.
“I feel completely supported by both my marketing and underwriting contacts at Olympus,” she says. “I know I can call them with a concern or to discuss a risk, and they will provide me with the feedback I need. I want to grow my business with quality clients, and they want my agency to succeed. It’s ideal.” Ultimately, Whitney says her goal is to provide clients with the best possible options when it comes to coverage.
“At the end of the day, I know my clients have a choice in who to trust with handling their policy. That means I need to offer the best products, provide the best service, and hire the best people – so we can BE the best option out there for our policyholders and their homes.”