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New CFDC Investor Helps Polk County Companies, Residents get the Best Prices on Insurance and More

April 18, 2023 News

Today, USI has over $2.5 billion in revenue and 10,000 associates in nearly 200 offices across the U.S. That includes the Maitland office, which serves Polk County and Central Florida. 

USI stands for Understand, Service and Innovate, which are its core principles, said Kaylea Frantzis, a partner and Employee Benefits Practice Leader in the Maitland office. The company is a brokerage firm that offers Property & Casualty insurance; Employee Benefits; Personal Risk assessments; and Retirement Solutions. The private-equity firm USI began in 1994 with a single office and 40 associates, although its history dates back 150 years and includes many companies that once served their communities.

“We take a different consultative approach when it comes to helping people,” she said. For the most part, USI serves the middle market, companies with 100 to 1,000 people. But in some cases, it will work with those in a high-risk group, like those on the property and casualty side, that may have only 10 employees. That could be a general contractor with high revenue, she said. “We try to bring Fortune 500 principles to the middle market.” 

USI is really a technology company that does insurance, she said. “We built technology to understand and innovate, to learn what’s going on in that industry. We collaborate across the country and are the only ones that connect from a tech and ROI standpoint, and we know what everyone is doing in other markets.” 

Between 15 and 20 employees work in the Maitland office, and another 200 work throughout Central Florida.  

The company spends 10% to 15% more on client service than competitors, Frantzis said, leading to very low turnover. “We’re very proud of it. When I started here in January 2021, everyone had worked here 10 to 15 years; that’s not typical.”  

The Business

Put simply, USI brokers insurance. “Instead of going online and plugging in information in a car insurance database, we’re representing you to that market and finding the best service and pricing that’s available to you from all companies in the market.” 

Somes examples: 

  • For property and casualty, USI represents companies.  
  • For employee benefits, it puts together an entire benefits program — medical, life, critical illness, etc. — for companies. ”We’re putting together the best program to meet the needs of the employer and employees.”  
  • For individuals, it provides rental and umbrella policies, retirement accounts and more. 

What Sets USI Apart

USI has a unique tool that differentiates it from other firms: USI ONE Advantage, with ONE standing for Omni, Network and Enterprise. Those are: 

  • OMNI: “This is why we are better, and we are different,” Frantzis said. “The Omni is our tech, what we’re heavily invested in. We built it. It aggregates all our data. We are able to go in and see what solutions are working for our clients in certain industries, locations, employee sizes. We’ll provide a dollar amount. We do ROIs for clients; we show strategy; plug in years 1, 2 and 3 and show you what we anticipate your overall spend to be. We’re very strategic in our planning. We have the ability to connect with everyone in our company, and we know what’s working and how that’s been beneficial to clients.” 
  • NETWORK: Frantzis worked for an insurance carrier before joining USI. “USI always had the best people and knowledge. Working with them, I knew they had everything together. We have 10 to 15 people working on an account behind the scenes (some are client facing). Everyone is specialized in their bucket – underwriters, strategists. Our professionals can go in and vet solutions for our clients.”  
  • ENTERPRISE: Enterprise is the company’s strategic planning process. “We are very disciplined in what we do. We bring all of our people together to huddle on accounts – current and prospective ones — all the time. It’s group think – do what’s best for our client.” 

Challenges

Insurance companies don’t really want to participate in USI’s market right now, she said. “With everything going up, we have to figure out how we can help mitigate risk and provide that outlook with all the unknowns going on.” She was referring to things like hurricanes that are driving up the cost of homeowner’s insurance. 

The market right now is hardening, she said, so some companies tell their clients: “ ‘You’re going to get an increase, sorry about that.’ We go to bat for our clients. Property and casualty insurance, along with employee benefits, are the top line items for many companies. You need people on your side who are fighting for you, doing the right thing.” 

What’s Next?

USI is “always innovating our technology, processes, resources. We make changes as needed, as we see fit for our clients.” 

The company is committed to adding locations and growing its workforce. “We’re bringing on good talent. In the past couple years, we have added five new producers in our office, expanding our talent pool.” 

Giving Back

Everything USI does, including every initiative, is devoted to giving back, Frantzis said.  

Internally, it provides scholarships to USI employees and their families. Recently the company helped employees affected by natural disasters like Hurricane Ian through its CARES program. “After that storm, two employees here drove eight hours there and back to deliver a portable AC unit (to an employee who lost power on the Gulf Coast). If we know anyone affected, we will send resources.” 

Through the USI Gives Back initiative, it gives back to the community. “Everyone is encouraged to participate in the group activities we do every year,” Frantzis said. “We help a nonprofit called Soldiers Angels, which provides food for a month for every vet who qualifies.” 

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