Ridgeland — In 2002, the owners of Evans/Giordano Insurance Agency saw a difficult-to-serve niche market and quickly became experts in this particular insurance and risk management specialty. Its sole mission: to meet the unique and individual needs of human and social service provider agencies.
“The original concept occurred to us about three years ago,” recalled Joey Giordano, president of CoverSource. “We initially started targeting nonprofits, which has now transcended to solutions for human and social service providers. If you think about it, there are only 25 Head Starts, 15 mental health agencies and 12 planning and development districts in the state, all different niches that fall under nonprofits or human service providers. We noticed that oftentimes, insurance agencies failed to understand the mission of a nonprofit agency and did not write certain types of coverage. In some cases, premiums were excessive. So we dedicated a team with more than 18 years of experience insuring nonprofit organizations and more than 25 years in risk management services to specialize in serving nonprofits and getting the right coverage at better terms.”
In some cases, the savings to these groups has culminated in nonprofits retaining tens of thousands of dollars.
“Most people that run organizations like these are not insurance people,” said Paul Megginson, vice president, director of marketing of CoverSource. “They’re very good at what they do, delivering services. However, they have a huge professional liability exposure because of dealing with the public, sometimes minors. Abuse and molestation exposure is one example. Also, most of these organizations offer transportation to clients, so they’re driving 15-passenger vans and buses, and need a lot of training for safety issues. While traditional insurance agents can sell policies, they really don’t deliver total risk management services.”
CoverSource, which matches risk exposures of human service agencies to the insurance underwriters with programs specifically tailored for each type of human service program offered, also provides value-added risk management services such as individual consultations, seminars, training videos and other resource materials that may help reduce losses.
“Typically, an insurance company will send out a representative to do an inspection, and it’s designed to protect the insurance company’s interest,” said Giordano. “If someone writes a policy for a Head Start agency, for example, that company sends out a representative and looks at lighted exit signs, makes sure fire extinguishers are checked and charged, that no electrical cords are draped across the hallway. But most organizations are regulated by some entity already — Department of Health, for example — with regular audits. So getting the right kind of coverage, plus getting it at a reasonable cost, sometimes gets lost in the process.”
Transportation has become a particularly vulnerable area, especially because some agencies, like Head Start, are now offering more community service programs, like Meals on Wheels. “Part of the risk assessment process includes educating our clients because our society has become more litigious and expectations are a lot higher,” said Megginson. “There’s the mentality: who’s going to pay me if I’m injured?”
Board members have a substantial fiduciary liability to spend dollars in the most efficient manner and protect assets to their best ability. “They’re handling a lot of money, most of it coming in from federal grants, Medicaid reimbursement, etc., that flows through these organizations,” pointed out Giordano.
Since 2002, CoverSource has grown 150% in revenues, and now employs 42, including two full-time safety consultants and account representatives, Bob Ganz and Eddie Dear. The team covers Mississippi and contiguous states with a goal of becoming a one-stop shop for the insurance needs of the Southeast’s largest human and social service providers. CoverSource’s sister company, Safety Risk Services, handles administration for self-insureds.
“We’re not salesmen,” insisted Megginson. “We want to become part of your organization and work with you and for you. We’re not selling today’s plan at today’s price and never communicating with anyone unless there’s a problem.”
Kristi Dearing, business manager for Weems Community Mental Health Center in Meridian, said CoverSource has put programs in place and kept premiums consistent. “The best thing about CoverSource is the service, it’s top of the line,” she said. “I can get what I need when I need it, and really, insurance is only as good as the service provided to you, no matter what the premium.”
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne W. Jeter at email@example.com.