Neal Bowman is a dealer in peace of mind. As an insurance agent specializing in farms and agribusinesses he knows first-hand the significant investment that goes into an agricultural operation and the need to protect it as much as possible.
In addition to the numerous clients Neal has worked with over the past 10 years, he grew up on a dairy farm in Brown Summit and continues to help run it today. Members of his family are Farm Credit customer members. He has also grown a wide range of produce to sell at a roadside stand. He taps his experience and depth of knowledge – he has two agricultural degrees from N.C. State University – to provide insurance packages or programs that best meet clienteles’ needs and helps them rest assured they’ve done what they can to protect their investment and assets.
Here is Neal’s overview on what to consider when looking for an insurance company.
- Word of mouth. One of the best ways to find a reliable company is to talk with others in the farm community. Who do other farmers have their insurance with? What is their experience with a particular company? How has it handled claims? There are a lot of different insurance agencies and companies but there are only a handful of companies that specialize and focus on farm and agribusiness insurance.
- The financial stability of the insurance company and the ability to pay claims. Check a company’s AM Best rating, which is an independent, objective assessment of a company’s balance sheet strength, operating performance, and business profile. Make sure the company you’re considering has at least an A rating. Another way to learn more about a company is to check online reviews of how a particular company is paying claims.
- A company’s expertise in your type of farming operation or agribusiness. It’s important to make sure the company has a level of expertise in your type of operation to be able to meet your insurance needs.
- A knowledgeable agent. It’s helpful to work with a person who not only is experienced in the agricultural industry but is someone who takes an interest in you, visits your operation, asks you important questions about your operation and needs, and listens.
- A company and an agent that value your business. Any company representative that is interested in you and the well-being of your business will take the time to get to know you and build a relationship with you. A trusted insurance professional should be part of your team of helpful advisors. That professional should be focused on your best interests and not just interested in selling a product. Even when the reliability and responsiveness of the company and the agent are established, it needs to be someone you’re comfortable working with.
- An annual check-in with your insurance professional. This is a good time to share updates, address any concerns, seek information on what you may need to consider for future expansion, or simply to review what you have in place to give you greater peace of mind.
“I ask my clients what their biggest fear is; what keeps them up at night,” says Neal. “I want to know what their insurance concerns are for their operation. I like to visit their operation to see what type of operation they have and to get a good feel for it. That way when I sit down and put together an insurance program for them, I can provide the correct coverage at an affordable price. I want to make sure they are taken care of. That’s what gives peace of mind.”
In part 2, Neal Bowman, who is with Insurance of the Carolinas, Farm & Agribusiness Division, shares information on property and casualty insurance and what you need to consider.
By Leah Chester-Davis