The Huneycutt Group provides peace of mind for the Carolina coastline
By JUDY ROYAL » Photos by KELLY STARBUCK PHOTOGRAPHY
As Southeastern North Carolina was cleaning up from Hurricane Isaias on the morning of August 5, Chad Huneycutt was a lot busier than he had anticipated. His insurance agency, The Huneycutt Group, was already handling six claims for significant damage on Bald Head Island alone. But then again, the insurance industry is all about helping its customers deal with the unexpected.
“This business is definitely a people business,” he said. “The number one thing we sell is peace of mind, so assuring customers that regardless of what happens they can rest at night and know that we are going to make them whole financially after a loss.”
Ten years ago, Huneycutt recognized a need in this area and beyond after realizing that large national insurance companies were pulling away from coastal markets, especially barrier islands. The former banker and State Farm representative opened two independent insurance agencies in 2010 – one in Wilmington and one in the Outer Banks – but a year later the two companies merged into one as The Huneycutt Group in Wilmington, which serves the entire coastline of the Carolinas.
He and his wife Tara worked to rebrand the new company, focusing on the strategic decision to bring everything under one umbrella for more streamlined offerings. Along with raising their three children and running her own company Hallelu in Wrightsville Beach, she continues to be an integral part of The Huneycutt Group.
The Huneycutt Group serves about 7,000 customers, including residential and some small business commercial accounts. “The agency has experienced 20 percent growth five years in row,” Huneycutt said.
“We primarily provide property and casualty insurance, so we’re very interested in making sure that we offer a full lineup of products for our homeowners – their cars, their boats, their additional liability needs – as well as taking care of our small businesses,” he said. “We also partner with other companies for life and health insurance but do not provide those directly.”
“Because coastal markets have their own unique considerations, as underscored by the recent visit from Hurricane Isaias, it’s important to work with someone who specializes in this area,” Huneycutt said. In addition to knowledge about storm risk, agents also need to be experts in the liability needs of rentals because half the homes insured by The Huneycutt Group are vacation properties in some way,
Huneycutt said his agency strives to educate customers to ensure they understand coverage and make the right decisions for their lifestyles.
“It’s very important to us to get to know our customers as best as we can to not only understand their insurance needs today but get a good handle on their insurance needs in the future,” he said.
The agency’s customers appreciate
“The Huneycutt Group has been so helpful and easy to work with, a breath of fresh air in the insurance field,” Chandra Meshaw of Wilmington said. “The response time is impeccable. They make their clients feel like they are the number one priority.”
“The Huneycutt Group is a pleasure to work with,” Jeanette Phillips of Leland said. “They are knowledgeable, friendly, and look out for their clients’ best interest.”
In addition to customers, The Huneycutt Group also works with carriers.
“The industry has continued to change more so in the landscape for the carriers that are willing to do business in our coastal areas,” Huneycutt said. “That is something that continues to ebb and flow. It’s really important to our customers that we as an agency kind of have our ear to the ground.”
“Now those carriers reach out to us to get intel prior to coming to market,” he added. “We’re now being asked to give them feedback to help them make actuarial decisions to help them decide if they want to move into coastal areas and whether they can be competitive here.”
Like many other businesses all over the world, The Huneycutt Group has had to adapt and evolve as a result of COVID-19. Employees are relying on technology rather than in-person contact to communicate with customers, and adjusters are wearing face coverings when they inspect homes.
The pandemic also has had some consequences that have emerged several months into the situation. “For example, many mortgage companies have allowed homeowners to defer payments, which could result in escrow account shortages when insurance payments are due,” Huneycutt said. He and his staff are working as a liaison between customers and banks to see that the bills are paid without adding more financial stress on the homeowner.
As more transformation is undoubtedly on the horizon in 2020 and beyond, The Huneycutt Group affirms its commitment to do what’s best for its customers.
“The only thing constant in the insurance business is change,” Huneycutt said. “Our biggest challenge is just making sure we’re staying in touch to see that we’re up to date on changes.”
The Huneycutt Group, 1908 Eastwood Road, Suite 320, Wilmington, NC, 28403, 910-338-1773, huneycuttgroup.com