The economic turmoil of the past three years combined with a recent, complex reform of the insurance industry has probably left many people dubious of insurance agents and companies alike. After all, the notion of a goliath organization taking money year-in and year-out through premiums and deductibles while looking for any way to return as little of it as possible is not the most lovable of mental images. Luckily for Chatham residents, however, there is a better way.

            John Hawk, of John Hawk Agency on South Passaic Avenue, provides a much needed local touch to a typically impersonal industry. Hawk, 50, is an agency owner; although John Hawk Agency sells Allstate-approved products, Hawk possesses his own book of business.

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            Hawk has been working in the insurance industry for six years. Prior to September 11th, Hawk worked on Wall Street and lived in New York City for quite some time. Yet, he and his family decided to move to Chatham Township after that day’s tragic events.

Since that time, Hawk has worked diligently to establish a solid presence in the area, “I think the fact that I live and work in the same town is a pretty good story. If I am going to insure your personal assets and I live 50 miles away, I am not going to have the same perspective as if I lived down the street.”

            Both of Hawk’s daughters, who are nine and six years old respectively, attend school in Chatham. In addition, both play soccer, basketball, and softball and Hawk takes pride in being able to coach some of their teams. Furthermore, the John Hawk Agency is able to sponsor some of those teams through the town’s recreation department. Such an effort allows Hawk to meet regularly with many of his clients in a non-work setting, thus helping him to establish more intimate personal connections than is normally the case with insurance agents and their clientele.

Over the last six years, Hawk has made a concerted effort to create a community-oriented feel at his agency. There are only five people who work at the John Hawk Agency including John himself. All of these employees, with the exception of Hawk, have at least eight years of insurance experience and all of them live within a few miles of the business’ location. In addition, the organization is open six days a week for personal consultations.

As a result of all of that, “When you get here, you get a consistent relationship with one person.”

Such a luxury is rare in the insurance world, which is notorious for its lack of care regarding individual clients. In fact, Hawk noted that all after-hours calls are transferred to an Allstate call center. Thus, Hawk’s clients get “the best of both worlds” since they can establish a personal relationship with an experienced and well-versed representative while still receiving the 24-hour care that is often trumpeted by the bigger conglomerates.

Another important and distinct feature of the John Hawk Agency is its yearly policy reviews for each of its clients. “I believe that people’s lives change over the course of a year. If your life changes, you want to make sure your insurance is keeping up. If we touch base at least once a year, it gives me an opportunity to get to know the big changes in your life so I can adjust your coverage properly.”       

Hawk stressed the importance of being proactive rather than reactive when dealing with insurance-related matters: “If your not getting an annual review you should be looking elsewhere. The only way to be proactive is by reassessing where you are at each stage of your life.”

In the end, Hawk said he is most proud of the advice that his organization provides in comparison to other, larger insurance companies. “Insurance is a commodity that can be bought anywhere at any time. Most of the services are similar across the industry. At the end of the day, it is the advice that we provide and the way we structure each program to fit a client’s individual needs that separates us from the average company.”

We all know how important it is to protect that which is most important to us. Whether it is our family, our health, or even our property, times as uncertain as these call for increased awareness and care in this regard. Although the insurance industry can be a monolithic and an imposing presence, it is also an essential function of our economy and a needed protection for almost all citizens.

Since purchasing insurance of some kind is a nearly unavoidable process, it would seem logical to select an insurance company that cares about individual needs and that understands the local realities of a given community. If these two qualities are in fact the most desirable when choosing the right insurance company, it seems clear that John Hawk Agency is the obvious choice for those living in and around Chatham Township.