Comprehensive Coverage for Construction
Kelly White & Associates Insurance, LLC is a one-stop shop for construction and high-risk insurance
Kelly White, a Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist and native Floridian, has had an eventful decade. She opened her agency in April 2010 in Jacksonville and has been growing ever since. “It’s been a fun 10 years!” she says.
Kelly White & Associates Insurance, LLC provides comprehensive construction insurance programs for Florida contractors and can provide coverage for high-risk and hazardous construction. The firm is certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Clients are typically heavy-construction contractors and subcontractors—bridge and dock builders, commercial diving contractors, concrete construction firms, roofing and scaffolding companies—that often perform high-risk work.
The firm offers workers’ compensation, builders risk, commercial and marine insurance, bonding, pollution liability, excess liability and foreign package coverage as well as employee benefits, personal and auto insurance.
“We provide critical services and are fanatical about the quality we deliver to our clients,” Kelly says.
Kelly is an expert in construction and marine insurance. She holds a 2-20 Property & Casualty General Lines Agent License and has worked in the industry for more than 30 years, starting as a part-time auto damage appraiser while still in high school.
Because of her track record and reputation in the insurance industry, the agency opened its doors with contracts in place with five major carriers. Today, the agency provides a broad base of services and works with several carriers including Travelers, AMERISAFE, Atlantic Specialty Lines and RLI.
Assessing Client Needs
Kelly is proud of the firm’s 95% client retention rate. The majority of new clients are referrals.
“We understand what goes on at a job site and provide the right insurance programs for their exposures. The minimum coverages required by a contract are not necessarily adequate to protect them,” she explains. Clients sometimes remark that the agency knows terminology and understands processes better than some of the contractors they are competing against.
The firm also helps clients to implement safety and loss control programs and drug-free workforce programs.
Construction Contract Reviews
The team provides detailed contract review services to help clients avoid surprises after a contract is in force.
Some contracts specify the transfer of 100% of the insurance risk to the subcontractor. “We help the subs assess the types of risks they are taking on,” Kelly says. “Are there bonding requirements? Is there verbiage covering weather delays? Is a warranty required?”
The firm will also compare contract requirements with the client’s current coverages and advise where the stated requirements differ. “For example, when a client has a $1 million umbrella policy, but the contract requires them to provide $3 million of coverage for the next three years,” Kelly explains.
She recalls evaluating a municipal bid document that required a 10-year warranty as well as a bond. “We can’t bond a 10-year warranty,” she emphasizes. Kelly alerted the municipality that, as written, the project wasn’t a bondable job. The municipality added an addendum and put the project back out for bids, and Kelly was able to put together a bid bond for the contract. “We were the only bonding agency that pointed out the conflict,” she recalls.
Placing Coverage for High-Risk Industries
Kelly deliberately sought out and signed contracts with carriers that can help facilitate liability exposures, equipment exposures and excess coverages as well as workers’ compensation. If a contractor is working on a high-rise building, the agency can meet all of its insurance requirements.
Nearly all of the team’s work is managed directly with the insurance market, an important benefit to the agency’s clients. “We work directly with underwriters to ensure policies are put together correctly to protect contractors working in high-risk environments,” she says.
The agency is able to handle many issues for clients because it works directly with the insurance carriers and rarely use brokers as a go-between. “The construction underwriters we work with know that we know what we’re doing. They provide us with the services we need to help contractors get jobs underway,” Kelly says.
When a client experiences a claims incident, Kelly and her team offer hands-on support.
A client contacted Kelly after a fuel tank spill sent 100 gallons of fuel into the Intracoastal Waterway. What did they need to do first? Kelly placed calls to the United States Coast Guard National Response Center, notified the insurance carrier and then jumped in her vehicle and headed to the site. She stopped at an industrial store to pick up extra containment booms and other supplies to help employees with the cleanup. She also let the Coast Guard know that the client had the proper insurance coverage for the cleanup as well as a mitigation plan in place.
Knowing that Kelly is on the site after an incident takes some of the pressure off a client during a stressful situation.
When a client’s terminal near Cape Canaveral was hit by a tornado, Kelly drove to the site in the middle of the night. At dawn, she began assessing damage, taking pictures and putting the claims process into play for her client.
Keeping Up with… Everything
When a contractor calls the agency, it may have nothing to do with insurance. It may be a request for guidance on a new requirement from a government agency or permitting division. “We know where to direct them to find an answer, which frees up their time so they can go back to making money,” she says.
The agency proactively communicates with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers, NOAA Fisheries, the Florida Division of Workers’ Compensation, the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Kelly says. “Our discussions and relationships with these agencies ensure we understand regulatory changes and trends and allow us to help out contractors with their questions,” she comments.
That level of industry insight benefits clients, she adds. “We’re not just selling insurance. We’re protecting financial assets, helping contractors grow and connecting them to resources they need,” she says.
Kelly trains new hires and helps them obtain their licenses. Employees learn from the start her meticulous processes and the agency’s high standards. “My goal from the start was to develop good core habits in our team. I have a great crew. The result is excellent service for our clients,” she says.
Katie Cahan handles personal lines and builders risk. Crystal Pounders has been at the agency for 10 years. She started part time during high school and is now a licensed agent with a focus on heavy construction and commercial marine insurance. Karin Sprague is another 2-20 licensed agent. Melissa Piccirillo handles all of the agency contracts and accounting and Corey Pounders manages customer support, IT and marketing.
Industry and Community Connections
Kelly participates in industry and community associations including membership in the Greater Marathon Chamber of Commerce in the Florida Keys, where the agency has many clients. She received the Gold Anchor Award from the Florida Marine Contractors Association for bringing in new members in 2013, and subsequently became—and remains—the group’s Executive Director.
She has worked with CILB and the Construction Licensing Officials Association of Florida for nearly 20 years. Florida municipalities and licensing boards often request her input on issues, such as how to protect employees of contractors and ensure that verbiage, licensing and insurance requirements protect the community. She’s received several certificates of appreciation from county building departments for her contributions.
Beginning this year, Kelly is leading workshops on construction contracts and job costing for fellow members of The Blue Book Network.
Safe Harbor Boys Academy, a maritime-based boarding school for troubled boys in Jacksonville, is near and dear to Kelly’s heart. “The boys learn seamanship, welding and carpentry skills and complete their high school education while living on boats in the marina,” she says. The agency donates food and personal care items to the school. Kelly also organized volunteers to repair damage to the campus after Hurricane Irma.
Looking Ahead: Challenges and Trends
“We work hard to stay on top of changes and to ensure we are bringing in the right companies and products. If contractors are hit with new challenges, we’re ready,” Kelly says.
With construction booming in Florida and increasingly bigger, better and taller buildings under development, the agency is seeing growing demand for high-risk workers’ compensation coverage.
Increasingly, Florida construction companies have risk exposure outside the United States. “We have clients that send their employees worldwide. That entails risk, whether using American workers or hiring locally through a U.S.-based company and contract. Insurance is needed to fill the gaps,” Kelly says.
When clients get a new requirement, Kelly’s team is prepared to guide them. “We measure success by who we’re able to help each day. The rest just falls into place,” she says.