Beacon of light (Business Observer)

   September 27, 2016    

Insurance, for many companies, has become a commodity. Bill Taulbee and his colleagues are out to change that narrative.

by Mark Gordon

Insurance brokers and agents at Lykes, who go by the more affable term advisors, have no problem telling potential clients no.

They don’t turn away new business, per se. Instead, a Lykes advisor will reject any query from a possible client who asks them for a quote for new business. Quotes on demand, says Lykes Insurance President and CEO Bill Taulbee, defeat the firm’s core philosophy, which is to de-commoditize insurance services. 

“You can always find insurance for one dollar less or one dollar more,” says Taulbee. “But insurance isn’t about today’s risk. It’s about tomorrow.”

While it might cost Tampa-based Lykes the occasional client, the unorthodox sales approach works. Growth has been solid in recent years, says Taulbee, and annual premiums are up to around $125 million.

The 60-employee company handles a variety of commercial insurance work for clients, mostly midsize businesses, in a range of industries, including agriculture, transportation, construction, banking and hospitality. It also does private risk assessments, surety bonds for contractors, workers’ compensation insurance and employee benefits consulting. The company has offices in Fort Myers, Sarasota and Winter Park, in addition to downtown Tampa.

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