by Terry Rogers
Gary Downes, owner of Downes Insurance, did not intend to become an insurance agent when he began his career. Initially, he worked in corporate America. Then, in 1991, the economy took a nosedive and his corporate job disappeared. At the time, he had a wife who wanted to have children so he knew he had to choose a career that would provide for his family.
“I answered an advertisement for Mutual of Omaha,” Downes said. “I started my own company doing what I did in the corporate world and selling insurance from my kitchen table. Before I knew it, my corporate life had dwindled, and I was focused mostly on the insurance side. I began adding additional companies, then found an office and added staff. And here we are today.”
Downes’ company offers many different types of insurance now and he is very active in the community. For the past few years, he has been the chairman of the Flags for Heroes project sponsored by the Milford Rotary. He is proud that his insurance company offers something online companies do not.
“Our policies come with an agent,” Downes said. “And I mean the same agent. Each time you call, you talk to the same person. There are no “Press 1,” “Press 5” options when you call our office. An actual person answers the phone. We specialize in complicated insurance, trying to get coverage for people who have unique needs. Many companies will not cover historical homes, mobile homes, houses on the water, that type of thing. When you call us for a policy, we work with you, reviewing your needs and making sure you get the coverage you not only want but what you need.”
Internet insurance companies are the biggest challenge Downes faces. He explained that people can go online to purchase insurance from someone outside the area. Even his own companies sell directly to consumers. However, many times those policies are limited and don’t really allow for customization.
“When I opened this company, my only competition was another agent,” Downes said. “Now, I am competing with online companies who really don’t provide the individualized service we do. When you work with us, you work with someone you can actually see. We have developed the ability to get insurance for people when many other companies have turned them down. Complicated insurance is our strong point.”
Downes Insurance offers a wide range of insurance, from auto, life, health, small business, flood insurance and more. He stated that it is not difficult to purchase a standard auto or home policy, but if you have any challenges in your insurance needs, it is important to talk to an actual agent.
“I get a lot of referrals from people in the real estate industry,” Downes said. “They know we have a lot of companies, some of which are listed in the Top 10 companies. We have four that are in the Top 4. But we also have a lot of smaller, lesser known companies we work with that are often able to cover a unique situation. One of the biggest rewards is solving a problem for someone. A homeowner who wants to purchase insurance but has been turned down comes to us and we come through. That is very fulfilling.”
Anyone interested in learning more about Downes Insurance can call 302-422-8863 or visit their website.