In the inaugural episode of "Your Insurance Connection Podcast", CLH Insurance President, Chuck Hembree, discusses CLH and what makes the agency unique.
Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the topics discussed in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
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Grant FINLEY: Welcome to the inaugural episode of Your Insurance Connection Podcast. I’m your host Grant Finley and I’m joined today by the President of CLH Insurance, Chuck Hembree. Chuck, how are you today?
Chuck HEMBREE: Doing well, thank you.
FINLEY: Good, good. Well, I sincerely want to thank you. It’s always great to have the man himself join us, especially for the inaugural episode –
HEMBREE: “The man himself.” (laughs)
FINLEY: So thank you very much for taking some time out of your day. I thought we could start off this podcast, since it’s the very first one, by diving into what CLH Insurance is all about, how it got started, the background and just get into that. So, if you could maybe just start with a brief synopsis of CLH Insurance and what the agency provides I think that would be a good jumping off point.
HEMBREE: Well, this is exciting because this is our 55th year and any entity, any organization is always built on the back of the folks that came before it and we’re the recipients of the great, hard work that they’ve done and the same here is true with CLH Insurance. It started and my entrance into insurance was when John Clark approached me and I was not interested in twisting people’s arms or interrupting them during dinner and he said, “Well, that’s not how we approach our clients” and I thought, “Well how else do you sell insurance?” He said, “Everybody has to have insurance – it’s a necessity. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could trust the person that you were talking to, that they weren’t just selling you something but they really had your best interest in mind, that they were knowledgeable and they were helping you make intelligent decisions” and that’s what we’ve tried to really build on. It’s really – it may be cliché, but trust and integrity. A lot of things that are disappearing in some of our industry arenas today and that’s really what we want to build on.
FINLEY: Yeah, and even in the mission statement it kind of touches on how it’s educational, we’re trying to make sure that the customers that we work with are informed or educated so they can make the best decisions for themselves and so I think that speaks volumes.
HEMBREE: Well, mission effects our service. We do have that mission statement and we try to filter what we do in selling and in and servicing, particularly in servicing and through that helping our clients make intelligent insurance decisions. Not making the decisions for them but helping them understand pretty complex policies. Again, it’s become a commodity because everybody has to have it, but it’s very complex and we want to help them understand what they have and why they’re making the decisions that they are. So that means that we have to know our products well, we have to stay on top of insurance education, and not just be insurance sellers.
FINLEY: So, another caveat, if you will, to what CLH Insurance is all about is it’s an independent agency and it’s a “Trusted Choice” agency. Can you talk a little bit about what a “Trusted Choice” agency is for some of those who may not be familiar with the term?
HEMBREE: Absolutely, and if I can back up, I’d like to look at what an independent agent is. Both independent agents and direct writers in the insurance industry are valid forms. Now, one is not legitimate and another one illegitimate. An independent agent just means we represent multiple companies rather than have one specific company offering and because of that, we have relationships and connections with many entities. We can provide kind of a concierge services of going out on behalf of our clients and looking at - not every company – that would be a misstatement, but the companies we’re contracted with and at least they’re eight to ten standard, good, solid companies. Hartford, Travelers, Allied, EMC – names that you know. We’re able to work with them and then if we have needs beyond that, we have the ability to go worldwide so we can affiliate with the Lloyds of Londons, we can affiliate with those types of situations so we can bring our clients what they need.
FINLEY: So, let me just jump in real quick there. So would it make sense then to say that I could come to CLH and I could get my car insurance through Travelers and my homeowners insurance through Hartford? I can kind of mix and match different companies through you with whatever is going to fit my current situation?
HEMBREE: We can tailor it to what you need. Now, we also know the market well enough that sometimes it is best to put it all with one company because of discounting packaging but at least we’re doing that for you so that you can see upfront here’s what this company has to offer versus this company, with the ones that we’re aligned with. A common misconception we find is because we’re independent agents and we’re doing this shopping for them that we’re going to cost extra. There is no extra cost for doing this. We receive commission on the policy that we sell, we don’t collect another fee upfront from you and so there is no cost downside to dealing with an independent agent versus one that might represent just one company.
FINLEY: So the customer is paying the same –
FINLEY: Whether it’s with the big company or it’s with the independent agency?
HEMBREE: That’s right and if you think about it, I’ve heard “Well there’s a higher cost factor if you’re an independent agency because there’s a middle man. Because they pay us commission.” Well, with a direct writer, they’re still getting paid a salary. Where’s that money coming from? There really isn’t a difference, we just call it a commission when we’re dealing with an independent agency. Now, you asked a second question about “Trusted Choice” and we are a “Trusted Choice” agency and we’re proud of our affiliation. Their motto is “a person, not a policy” and they hold us to a pledge of performance that we have to write in order to become a member of theirs and there are several parts of that but what I really wanted to hit is that we’re going to provide 24 hours, seven days a week service for our customers. So if you call after hours to our agency, you’ll not only get in to leave a voice mail but there will always be an emergency number that you will be able to talk with a live person, pretty much every time that you get there and we’ll handle the emergency that has come up or the question that you have. I find that people don’t seem to abuse that. They’re not calling me at three in the morning asking, “Hey, could you look over this billing statement?” No, it’s usually because they really need it and we’re happy to oblige. The other thing we promise that we do is return your phone calls and your emails promptly and in a timely manner, and that’s important today because we’re making decisions and you’re having to work on the fly. People are busier than ever and we need to respond to them as best we can and we promise that we will tailor it to your needs and not to our needs. That’s one reason “Trusted Choice” was so natural for us because it fit with what our mission statement was going to be. So nationwide you can look us up as a “Trusted Choice” agency. That we adhere to that pledge and we’re going to be held to that standard.
FINLEY: So then, what are the various lines of insurance that CLH provides?
HEMBREE: I’ll qualify that: we’re an all lines agency. So we handle personal lines for our customers, commercial lines, and we even do life, accident, health, major medical – so we’re an all lines brokerage. However, every agency has their strengths and they have their weaknesses and we choose to go in the areas that we have strengths. So, Life, Accident and Health, we’ll affiliate with those that we think and in the metropolitan areas that we do business in, have the largest networks and the largest and best services available for our clients. And again, we’re an independent agent so we’re not looking at just one or two in property casualty or in life, accident and health – all of those. We do have niches though. We concentrate a lot in the not-for-profit sector, social services sector, because we developed an expertise in that and so we deal a lot with churches, colleges, schools, daycares, chambers of commerce, drug rehabs, and we do a really good job of that and yet it doesn’t keep us from writing the retail, hardware store, or the contractor that we know works well. So we have the ability there but that’s where we found a specialty and are able to do a good job as an agency there. As far as personal lines, we have great, “A” rated, strong financial companies that are going to give you some good choices along the line. And then finally with life, accident and health, we represent the major ones and this is an extremely volatile area right now with the ACA or Obamacare and there’s lots of changes in there. We’re very well positioned to help people with the decisions they need to make.
FINLEY: Chuck, I think that’s going to wrap it up unless there’s anything else you’d like to just get out there real quick about CLH Insurance or a final word from you?
HEMBREE: Well, the reason that we’re an independent agent, the reason we are a trusted choice agency, the reason we do want to hit our mission is we want to be your insurance connection and can do a good job of that and hope that our current clients see that , we think that they do, and we hope that new clients will consider us as that.
FINLEY: Great. Chuck, thank you again for taking some time today and sitting down with us for this inaugural episode of Your Insurance Connection Podcast.
HEMBREE: Thank you, Grant.
Your Insurance Connection podcast can be heard on iTunes and Stitcher or by visiting clhins.com/content/podcast. If you like what you’ve heard you can support this podcast by rating and/or sharing it on your social platforms. CLH Insurance is a “Trusted Choice”, independent agency servicing Missouri, Kansas and Illinois. For more information on CLH Insurance, visit clhins.com or call 636.391.0700 to speak with an agent. Until we connect again, thanks for listening.
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Show Notes - Where you can learn more about the people and ideas discussed in this episode.
Chuck Hembree, President of CLH Insurance
Lloyd's of London