By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
On Tuesday, May 22 at 3 p.m., Bill Perkins is opening the doors to his new digs at Alfa Insurance. The Alfa office is located at 14945 E. Limestone Road, Suite G, and Bill shares it with one other agent, two claims adjusters, and two customer service reps. This is both a ribbon cutting as well as a grand opening, and all of the Alfa crew hope you will come and celebrate with them. Light refreshments will be served.
Bill has always had a heart to serve, and did so honorably during the Desert Storm era, which was part of his nine year stint in the Army, and then as a pastor. Most recently he ministered at Central Church of Christ in Athens, and when he resigned that position last November, all he knew was that he wanted to continue to serve God and our community, but he had no plan as to the “next step.” Bill told me that it was important to his family to stay in the area, and he made me laugh at a recent Chamber of Commerce Coffee when he announced to the group, “For 15 years I have sold ‘fire insurance,’ and I still am!” Discussing that further, he told me that insurance was a good way for him to keep doing what he has always done, and that is, help people. He had looked into various agencies, and there was no one who began to compare with Alfa. “It was a natural transition,” he said.
Bill feels that insurance and preaching are really quite similar because they deal with many of the same things, such as preparing for everything life brings, including death. “We all have an expiration date, and I want people to be prepared spiritually as well as financially,” he said. One of the things that impressed Bill about Alfa is the freedom agents are given to let their light shine. When he has gone to training seminars at the Alfa headquarters in Montgomery, as well as at local district meetings, they pray before sessions, and they pray before meals. “I liked that, and I felt right at home,” he said.
According to Bill, “Not all insurance companies are created equal,” and Alfa is famous for their customer service. “Customers deserve more than 15 minutes, he said, and added, “A lizard is not going to be the one who delivers your check to you. It’s me you are dealing with.” They also have someone in the office Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. If you call, you are going to connect with a human being.
As someone with a shepherd’s heart, there is another element of customer service that stands out to Bill, and it is this: Alfa’s policy is that if someone passes away, as soon as the Montgomery headquarters receives the death certificate, within 24 hours a benefits check is cut, and the agent hand-delivers it to the beneficiary. “It’s kind of like the Bereavement Team,” I said, making a reference to the difficult job in the military of informing families that they have lost a loved one. “Exactly,” he said.
Alfa has been around since 1946, and primarily serves the states of Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi. With affiliate companies, the same exemplary service for which they are famous is extended to a total of 11 states. In Alabama, there are about 450 agents, and Bill says, “They are the best in the business.”
The group started as a way to serve the farmers of Alabama by providing fire insurance for Farm Federation members in Lee County. They still take care of farmers, but their excellent reputation for service, strength, and stability has caused them to grow into the urban market, and now Alfa has more than 1 million policies in place. Their property, casualty, and life insurance companies and policies have an A rating with A.M. Best Company, which is the “go-to” ratings group for insurance companies. Alfa is also privately held, which means that they are free to focus on meeting the needs of policy holders as well as their agents and employees, and not have to bend to the whims of stockholders or investment trends.
Another aspect of the Alfa corporate culture that was attractive to Bill is how they give back to the community. They are heavily invested in improving the quality of life in our state. Some of the agencies to whom they give are the Alabama Athletic Association, United Way, and Goodwill Industries. They give away millions of dollars in scholarship awards, one of which is known as the Rural Medical Scholars Scholarship Program, which targets the medically underserved areas in our state and beyond.
If this is what you are looking for in an insurance company as well as an agent, then come and join Bill Perkins on May 22, and be a part of this Chamber of Commerce-sponsored ribbon cutting and Open House. See you there!
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner