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Think local, buy local will weather economic storm

It is time for Manatee County residents to think local and buy local. This attitude will help lessen the effects of the current troubled economy. It is like the popular theme of “Made in America - Buy American.” We have only one or two very large employers in Manatee County. Because of the nature of their business, they will probably not have massive layoffs or close their doors. I am optimistic that our county will weather this economic storm quite well if we think local and buy local.

There are several very competent insurance agencies in Manatee County that have been here for years. They are members of their professional associations and participate in local community activities such as the Kiwanis, Rotary, and Lions clubs. They have an investment in this community. They own or rent offices, pay local taxes, provide many jobs and represent good insurance companies.

They provide personal local service and great insurance products such as homeowners, automobile, and business/commercial policies.

Florida is well known as having one of the most difficult property and casualty insurance license exams in the United States. This speaks well for the agents who obtained their license and serve their clients locally.

Unfortunately, in the past year there have been a few companies that have broken the trust and loyalty of their longtime customers by deciding to no longer write any type of property or homeowners insurance. Regardless of the reasons for leaving that market segment, it is the local licensed agent representing the company that takes the hit.

The bright spot in all of this confusion is that in the past two years there have been about 80 companies starting up or reopening to write homeowners insurance in Florida at competitive rates.

There are some Internet insurance companies that do not have agents to serve you locally. The Internet insurance purchasers are flirting with trouble when they must handle their claim over the phone with no help from an agent. Anyone that reads their entire auto or homeowners policy (which is a legal contract) and understands each and every paragraph is, in my opinion, then qualified to buy coverage on the Internet. Otherwise you need a local agent.

Recently the Manatee County board of county commissioners held a forum that many local businesses and construction related companies attended. I noticed the comments from most all of the speakers included the theme think local and buy local.

I certainly agree with this theme and feel blessed to live in this community.