Business Spotlight: James Allen Insurance
James Allen Insurance: Creating a Legacy through National Coverage
“We’ll be celebrating 50 years in August 2019,” says Jim Craig, chief underwriter officer and board chairman at James Allen Insurance.
James Allen Insurance (JAI) is an Indiana-based business that underwrites various insurance programs for several domestic insurers and on behalf of their partners at Lloyd’s of London. Its primary focus is on farm and ranch products for the top agricultural agents in the United States, and it specializes in rounding out coverage in emerging areas of need. In addition to underwriting services, JAI creates, develops and writes insurance programs and policies for areas of coverage that are new to the general marketplace or are of a highly-niched nature.
About that upcoming gold anniversary. Jim is referring to his wedding anniversary to Carol, manager of accounting and billing at James Allen Insurance (which is in its 28th year). He and Carol have known each other since high school and attended the same college, Cincinnati Christian University. They are two of the four Craigs who make up the family business.
Their son Tim, CEO and Lloyd’s of London correspondent, jumped on board at JAI in 1998 after graduating from Ball State University with a major in business management. A father of five, with children ranging from newborn to age 10, he is married to Kristen Craig, farm underwriting manager at James Allen Insurance.
“Innovation,” Tim says. “We always wanted to create something for farmers that was necessary but non-existent at the time. We don’t want to be like the status quo. We aren’t like everyone else. Once you work with us, we believe you will see it. We are leaders – best packages, best coverage, best availability – we don’t come in second. When no one can figure out how to do it, we do and we execute.”
Work ethic along with innovation runs in the Craig family blood, and it’s safe to say the legacy has just begun.
Becoming James Allen Insurance
In 1994, Jim was introduced to Lloyd’s of London, an insurance and reinsurance market located in London, United Kingdom. After a successful dinner with Lloyd’s executives, Jim entered into a partnership that would go on to create something bigger than he anticipated. After the initial meeting, the Craigs were overseeing both retail and agribusiness insurance.
Retail insurance agents deal directly with an insurer to arrange coverage. Retail agents also work with managing general agents or wholesale brokers to secure coverage for their clients. Agribusiness insurance offers coverage for companies that manufacture, process and distribute agricultural products. Agribusiness insurance agents work to develop superior coverage plans with specialized protection for the agricultural industry.
“On the agribusiness side, I realized that farm pollution was an untouched niche,” Jim says. “On my first trip to London in 1995, I placed my first farm pollution policy. Tim had always been interested in joining me, so eventually we teamed up and decided to take on the areas no one else had thought of, let alone would even consider.”
Since then, the Craigs have traveled to London more than 75 times.
With momentum flowing in the right direction, Tim decided to start underwriting. Insurance underwriters evaluate the risk and exposures of potential clients. They decide how much coverage a client should receive, how much the client should pay for it, or whether they should even accept the risk and insure the client.
Along the way, the Craigs made a strategic decision to continue solely with general agribusiness underwriting. From there, they started laser-focusing and building what they have now – researched and developed niche products and countrywide underwriting.
Tim is passionate about new products, such as Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome Virus (PRRS), Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PED), African Swine Fever (ASF) and Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD). Tim’s passion has definitely paid off as James Allen Insurance has the only PRRS, PED, ASF and FMD coverage in the nation. While a farmer may not face these threats every day, it’s devastating when they hit. Such is the case this year with already 20 international ASF outbreaks.
Jim’s inclination for agribusiness is firmly rooted in his early years working on his grandfather’s farm, while his business aptitude has been nurtured and mastered over the last nearly three decades.
A Thankful Family
“Family business has its challenges,” Jim says. “You’re always trying to balance family versus the company, so it is important to draw those lines and be prepared to hold them. Thankfully for us, we haven’t butted heads too much, and we have given each other the room to grow. I attribute this to our mutual respect, foundation and Christian principles.”
James Allen Insurance also believes in giving back to the community. This past year, JAI donated each month to a charity chosen by one of their 11 employees. In 2019, they will begin donating every month to a charity on behalf of each of their employees’ interests. Not to mention, three Hoosier college students are currently being sponsored by James Allen Insurance.
“We find immense joy in giving back to our community and contributing to the success of others,” Tim adds. “That is why Christmas is such a special time for us. It is a time to reflect and feel gratitude. At James Allen Insurance, we have a lot to be thankful for.”