We Have Contractors’ Backs: INSURICA Southwest
By Andrew Atkinson
Mention construction, and people think of hammers, hard hats, and big yellow machines. Insurance is not a typical response. But it should be, that is, if you value knowledge, training, security, and peace of mind.
As agents, we provide insurance and bonds for contractors to take on the multitude of risks associated with construction – the details of which can be very complex. We take these concepts and make them easy to understand because our clients are not expected to be in the insurance business. As one of our founders, Wink Ames, said for decades: “We do not sell insurance. Rather, we help our customers through the buying process.”
INSURICA Southwest partners Andrew Atkinson, Blake Johnson, Mike Specht, and Eric Pach (L-R).
Another vital role is that of an educator. Insurance and bonding are complicated and necessary evils, as most contractors would say. “One of the functions we take very seriously is helping our contractors through the confusion so that they can make the right decisions, Blake Johnson, president of INSURICA Southwest, says.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there is the role of a trusted advisor. “When you only work with contractors, in some ways, you start thinking like one,” Johnson says. “This is a concept that the late Wink Ames imparted on all of us. How can you properly counsel and advise a contractor on a project or their daily risks if you don’t understand their business? You can’t.”
INSURICA Southwest does understand contractors, as evidenced by the firm's long history in the Arizona construction industry that dates back many decades.
In the early 1980s, there were two outstanding, construction-oriented insurance agencies in Phoenix: Ames & Associates and Minard Insurance, run by Wink Ames and Steve Minard, respectively. Wink and Steve both had strong surety, as well as insurance, backgrounds. “The two agencies seldom competed against one another, based on their tremendous mutual respect,” Johnson says.
Steve and Wink decided to join forces and form Minard-Ames Insurance Services in 1989. Their passion for construction only grew with the new agency. “Minard-Ames became known as a true construction specialty agency helping contractors with both their insurance and bonding needs,” Johnson says. He adds that this was also the beginning of what is today, expertise in Captive insurance arrangements, a specialty led by Eric Pach. As Minard-Ames, the agency continued its commitment to and involvement in various construction trade associations. They did so through their active participation on committees and in providing ongoing educational seminars to their members.
The agency's perpetuation plan prompted the name change from Minard-Ames to INSURICA. “Wink had retired, and Steve was looking to do the same thing,” Johnson says. “After being courted by many large publicly traded brokerage firms where the corporate values fell short of ours, in 2007, the management team at Minard-Ames decided to partner with privately-held INSURICA, whose values were very much in line with ours.”
When we joined INSURICA in 2007, it immediately provided more access to carrier markets and more options for our clients, additional resources, and countless other advantages, according to Atkinson. “The plan from the beginning of the merger was to change the name to INSURICA here in Phoenix eventually,” he says. “In 2020, we officially did, with our current name and name going forward: INSURICA Southwest.”
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This article originally appeared in the bimonthly Arizona Contractor & Community magazine, Jan/Feb 2021 issue, Vol. 10, No. 1.