Valdosta Daily Times

Business

February 26, 2012

Making Valdosta’s future a little brighter

VALDOSTA — VALDOSTA — Roy “Trey” E. Taylor III, owner of Brightway Insurance, is no stranger to the insurance business. It’s practically in his blood as the Taylor’s have been in the insurance industry for 44 years.

“We’ve be in insurance for a long time,” said Taylor.

While Taylor left Valdosta to attend law school at Emory University and work in venture capital in Atlanta, he returned in 2005 to take over the family business. Taylor runs Taylor Insurance (which his father founded), Metis Planning and now his new venture, Brightway Insurance.

Brightway Insurance opened Oct. 1, 2011 and offers full property and casual insurance including homeowners, automobile, boat, motorcycle, personal umbrella, event insurance (which is for events such as weddings), renters and jewelry insurance.

“We had been sort of negotiating and researching since April of last year,” said Taylor.

According to Taylor, for 44 years people had been asking them if they do car or homeowners insurance. It was something that they had never gotten into.

“We didn’t like the market place for it, we didn’t like the business model that goes with property and casualty,” explained Taylor.”

However, all that changed when Taylor met two men in Jacksonville, Fla. who own Brightway. Taylor was so impressed with the business model of the company that he purchased a franchise and became the first Brightway Insurance to open in the state of Georgia.

“Brightway is a very different business model,” said Taylor. “How the business works is very different from other places.”

The insurance market is divided into two core business models, captive retail and independent. Captive retail includes businesses such as State Farm and Allstate. According to Taylor, they write for one company. This puts customers at a disadvantage because they have no idea whether they are getting the best price or not.

“You’ve got the best price that they can give you, but they didn’t shop but one company,” said Taylor.

On the other hand, you have independent companies which are “mom and pop” sort of businesses. Because these companies are independent, they can contract with various companies. However, when you contract with various companies, there are production quotas that have to be met.

“So if I open my own shop and I write Progressive and Travelers, Travelers wants 80 percent of my business, so when you shop with me I quote you both,” explained Taylor. “But in the back of my mind I’ve got to worry and put you somewhere where it’s good for me too.”

Brightway gets rid of both of those business models and rises with a new, more practical model which provides the greatest benefit to the client.

“We have 95 offices,” said Taylor. “We have no quotas that we have to meet because the company as a whole meets all of its quotas.”

This really frees the agent to pair the client in the best plan, with the best price, with the best insurance provider that will best meet their needs.

“We’re contracted with over 35 companies in Georgia and 100 in Florida — that’s huge,” said Taylor.

Some of the local competitors may contract with five or ten companies as opposed to over 130.

“So when you come in, I can quote you with all of those in about 15 minutes and our proposal system can show you every single one of those quotes that we ran,” said Taylor. “If we can’t get you the best price from over 130 companies, then something is wrong.”

Another benefit of working with Taylor and his staff at Brightway is that they believe in quality over quantity when it comes to the companies they work with. All of their insurance providers are A-rated or better.

“It’s easy to contract with a whole bunch of insurance companies if you don’t care about their quality,” said Taylor. “But we do.”

This business model works and the proof is in the success of the business. Since Taylor opened Brightway in October, every single person that they have written has saved money. The average savings is 36 percent.

Brightway Insurance stands out from similar businesses in that they really value the quality of their work. So much so that they go above and beyond state standards to make sure that all of their agents are fully licensed. Georgia has a secondary agents code where an unlicensed agent can work under the direct supervision of a fully licensed agent.

“We looked at it and said absolutely not,” said Taylor. “Anybody that meets my customer is going to be a fully licensed agent.”

While an employee with experience is of value to Taylor, he feels the quality of a person’s morals is equally important.

“I wanted to hire good people,” said Taylor. “I wanted to make sure they were good people focused on their clients.”

Stan Crance, Principal Agent at Brightway, worked for the Special Olympics for five years before being asked by Trey to join his team.

“The main thing was the opportunity that was presented. We found that there was a great need for what Brightway had to offer to the city of Valdosta,” said Crance. “We felt that the need was to bring quality insurance to Valdosta, to bring choices to customers and the citizens of Valdosta.”

Mizell Williams, Brightway insurance agent, feels that customer service is the priority in everything he does day to day.

“The value of customer service is very important to me because I have insurance myself and I know what it takes to please customers and I know what it takes to make them happy,” said Williams.

Beth Jolly, Brightway insurance agent, has been in the insurance business for six years. She is dedicated to making sure all her clients walk out completely informed.

“We inform our clients on coverages and value that we bring as far as we can to save money for people,” said Jolly.

For example, Taylor explained that with property and casualty insurance, it’s key to quote and re-quote every year or every two years because the market changes so fast and it’s so responsive to weather conditions and those sort of things, that it is in the best interest of a client to re-quote.

Brightway Insurance’s goal is to ensure that all their clients have the brightest future possible. Those things are made possible, said Taylor, through excellent customer service, a knowledgeable staff and providing the best value.

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