Text by Sue Burns | Photos submitted by CIG

Over the last several years as wildfires have ravaged communities throughout California, we’ve all been horrified at the loss of lives and property, and empathized with those who have been affected. At the same time, we acknowledge that life and loved ones are the most important things to emerge following such a disaster. Many also wonder how they would bounce back from such a devastating circumstance as losing their home and everything in it.

Even everyday occurrences can be very stressful. Unexpected medical issues, business challenges and automobile fender benders, among other things, certainly throw a wrench into our life plans and can become costly if we don’t have insurance coverage that fits our specific needs. That’s where Central Valley Insurance Agency (CVIA) comes in.

Central Valley Insurance Agency — which also houses Central Sequoia Insurance and Financial Services LLC — offers more than 25 types of insurance, including auto, home, flood, business, commercial, workers’ compensation and life. The goal is always to ensure that clients have the best coverage at a price that works for them.

In addition to providing support for its clients, the agency supports several charities in the community. Most notably, partner Scott Bosler has served on the board of the Visalia Rescue Mission.

The firm also conducts a quarterly raffle for people who have made referrals; the winner receives a cash award, and a donation is made to the charity of

their choice. Dozens of charities in the community have received financial support through this program. Informational articles highlighting local charities are also periodically included in the monthly newsletter.

Founded in the fall 2008, CVIA started as a franchise agency for Capital Insurance Group (a regional insurance agency in Monterey). Within two years, it had opened Central Sequoia Insurance and Financial Services, an independent insurance agency. The two agencies still share the same office and staff, which currently stands at eight agents and financial planners, and three administrative employees.

Partners Phil Oliver, Scott Bosler and Mark Jennings bring their individual experiences and expertise to the agencies, ensuring a well-rounded wealth of information for their clients and staff.

As the managing partner with more than 40 years in the insurance business, Oliver manages the firm’s finances, strategic planning, training, hiring, marketing and digital marketing. When asked what sets the agency apart from everyone else, he states simply, “We are focused on proper protection.”

Jennings brings his 31 years in the industry to the table as the agency’s financial planner. In addition, he sells insurance and investments, and services those clients, and is responsible for marketing to CVIA’s referral partners in real estate, mortgage and other industries for property and casualty insurance. Jennings is also president of the San Joaquin Valley Association of Professional Mortgage Women (which welcomes men as members, too) and one of two national vice presidents of the organization. He joined the team at Central Valley Insurance about nine years ago after working with Oliver for 20 years.

With 10 years experience, Bosler’s primary role is as an insurance adviser on the property and casualty side for clients and potential clients (and sometimes staff members). The newest to the field, he originally served as a pastor in several locations for virtually all of his adult life. After tragically losing his 17-year-old son in a drowning accident, he was looking for a career with a little less stress. Oliver, a friend of Bosler’s for many years, encouraged him to join the Central Valley Insurance team. Bosler is committed to finding the best products for his clients, sharing that “we don’t offer inferior insurance protection – all the carriers we represent have excellent ratings with AM Best and offer exceptional products.”

Purchasing insurance of any kind can be an intimidating task. With myriad plans and so many details in the fine print and legalese, it’s challenging for a layperson to choose the right coverage at the right price. Oliver said people tend to purchase insurance based on price and don’t always know whether everything they need to be covered is.

Using the recent fires as an example, he explained that when large areas are affected and numerous claims are filed, building costs increase because of the law of supply and demand (versus a single house fire or accident where it’s the only one on the block that needs to be replaced). There are only a certain number of contractors and a certain amount of building supplies in a given area, thus prices for reconstruction can be drastically higher than the replacement cost in a homeowner policy. Certain policies provide double the amount of replacement costs because of the surge in pricing and on labor and materials, which does increase the premium but — in Oliver’s opinion — at a reasonable cost. After the fact, people realize that paying a slightly higher premium would have been more than worth it to replace their home rather than finding out their coverage isn’t enough for the rebuild. In such cases, the insurance companies pay an actual cash value to reflect the coverage, and the clients must build smaller home or pay the difference out of pocket, many times while still paying the mortgage on their home. Many lawsuits against insurance companies from recent fires are pending because of this.

Central Valley Insurance is committed to helping its clients avoid situations where they are underinsured. Agents take time to assess their exposures and needs, and provide yearly reviews to update coverage when necessary. Oliver says they see some people who have millions in assets but limited liability coverage to protect them — in other words, “they are woefully underinsured.… It’s like wearing gym socks with a tuxedo.” He normally recommends that clients purchase elite-level policies, which offer the best protection, with usually a very negligible price increase for the additional coverage.

Although it’s perfectly reasonable for people to be most concerned with cost, CVIA’s agents make sure that their clients see the bigger picture and are able to weigh the costs against their coverage needs.

When potential clients are asked when they last sat with their agent to assess coverage, the answer is almost always “never.” That’s why annual reviews are standard at CVIA, and this in-depth service is offered for all clients. “Adequate protection for a fair price with great resources and reviews – that’s our responsibility,” Oliver said. Scott echoed that “we take our clients’ protection personally; we want them to have the best coverage because we know what’s at stake where they may not.”

Oliver shared what he was told by a wily veteran agent when he started as a young State Farm agent many years ago: “Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten.”

Especially in this business, where the proof is in the pudding (in other words, how the claim is handled stays with the insured long after the premium is paid). And so it is at Central Valley Insurance Agency; its commitment to providing top-notch protection and service has resulted in hundreds of testimonials like this one from clients: “Because of your products and services, we can sleep at night.”