This has been a big year for Elliott Insurance Services. The Port Hope and Newcastle, Ontario-based insurance brokerage is celebrating its 100th anniversary and has marked this achievement with a year-long charity program to support the community it has been a part of since 1919.
Elliott Insurance was established a century ago when J.A.R. Elliott purchased Runnells Insurance. Four generations later, the family-owned brokerage is stronger than ever. David Elliott joined the company in 2005 after a brief stint working in banking in Halifax. He purchased Elliott Insurance in 2010 and is now the President of the organization.
David loves that brokerage has generations of customer who have insured with generations of Elliotts. “It’s built a very special dynamic of trust between us and our clients that we work hard daily to keep,” he says.
Now let’s get to his answers.
Why do you like working at your brokerage?
That’s easy – our team. Truthfully, I’m super lucky to be surrounded by an amazing group of people who are a ton of fun to spend the day with. They work extremely hard and take pride in properly protecting their clients, all while having a smile and a laugh whenever possible. I also enjoy our clients. A lot of them have long-standing ties to the office and I never tire of hearing embarrassing stories about my dad and grandfather!
This year marked Elliott Insurance’s 100th anniversary! How have you celebrated this fantastic accomplishment?
We thought about having a big party, but instead decided it would be better to put that money to good use in the local community. So, at the beginning of the year, we launched our #Elliott100 campaign where we give away $100 each week to a local charity or organization that supports our community. It feels great to be able to give back to the community that has supported us for the past 100 years.
The world of insurance is changing. What new opportunities do you see for brokers and customers going forward?
I see technology as being one of the biggest opportunities. For smaller brokerages, I see it helping to level the playing field. Even simple functions such as e-signatures – 10 years ago this would have been too complex or too expensive for a small brokerage, but now we have many options to provide services like this to our clients.
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever been asked to insure?
There have been so many interesting things, but most were so random that if I put it in writing, our client would know I was talking about them. I think my most print-friendly thing was a client with a street-legal race car. The client basically took a tubular frame from a drag car, tossed a fibreglass body on it that resembled a stretched-out muscle car and somehow was able to get it street legal.
What’s the most unique insurance claim you’ve ever encountered?
Again, most of the unique or interesting ones were so rare that the insured would know exactly who I was speaking about. I will say that operating in a small town, it’s always interesting when you insure both sides of a claim. It’s not unlikely to get a call from a client saying that his neighbour’s tree just fell on his house, only to get a call a few minutes later from the neighbour saying his tree just fell on someone’s house.
What was your first job? What’s something that you learned or took away from it?
I had paper routes and cut grass while growing up, but my first real job was working the coat check at a local event hall. It was such as great experience because I got to interact with people at the start of the night and also at the end of the night. It was a good crash course in socialization.
What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?
Take initiative and always back up your decisions with sound logic.
My first job out of university was for a large international bank. I was super excited to land the opportunity and was asking a ton of questions and trying to take everything in. I was also really scared to make a mistake, so I tiptoed around everything and asked for permission and direction before moving ahead. I had a manager toss a complex file on my desk and told me to make it happen. I had only been there a couple months, and this file was over my head so I asked how I should proceed. He told me to take initiative and justify my decision with sound logic. He said to only come to him when I have a solution for the client. It may sound trivial, but that one interaction changed my thinking. On top of it all, the correct answer was to turn down a high net worth client. To this day, I’m pretty sure he was testing me.
What’s your favourite song to sing along with during your drive home from work?
I’m lucky to live only a five-minute drive from the office, so I usually don’t notice what’s on the radio. But if the kids are in the car, there’s a very good chance I’m yelling some sort of embarrassing Taylor Swift song – “I shake it off, I shake it off!”
Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.
I can wiggle my ears. Yep, someone call the circus.
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t working in insurance, I’d be …
a lobster fisherman on the East Coast. Or working in banking and dreaming about being a lobster fisherman.
What are some of the reasons why you like working with Gore Mutual?
There are so many reasons. I love the fact that Gore Mutual still has the feel of a small company but has the resources of a large organization. The people at Gore Mutual are amazing. Whether it’s the management team, broker relations, underwriting or claims, you know you’ll connect with someone who cares and is always willing to listen and help.
Fun fact – Gore Mutual was a contracted company when my great grandfather purchased our brokerage in 1919. So, they’ve been with us since the very beginning!
Check out Elliott Insurance Services’ website here.