In the insurance industry, it’s rare to see an agency celebrate a century of service. However, the Hickok & Boardman Insurance Group has achieved a feat even more remarkable, marking its 200th year in business in 2021.
Hickok & Boardman traces its roots to 1821 in Vermont. Although the agency has gone through many changes over the years, one thing has remained the same: a commitment to fulfilling its mission, living its values, and protecting clients each and every day.
“We are proud to have developed and nurtured longstanding relationships with our communities and carriers for the past 200 years. Generations of family have worked for the company, each carrying forward our tradition of superior service,” says Ian Sutherland, Director of Sales, Vice President, and Client Advisor.
Headquartered in Burlington, the agency brings its customers not only centuries of experience, but also service based on the guiding principle of “doing the right thing, with a sense of urgency, while exceeding expectations.”
“It’s all about putting the client first, whether that’s responding quickly to a policy change or certificate request, advocating for customers in the claim process, or establishing a risk management program,” Sutherland says.
With 80 percent of its business in commercial lines, Hickok & Boardman focuses on tailoring business insurance programs and bringing value-added services to its clients. The agency provides risk management service through experienced, on-staff loss control consultants as well as claims support through licensed workers’ compensation adjusters.
“We help our clients control their workers’ compensation costs over the long term,” Sutherland says, adding that technology also plays a role in service speed.
“Our client portal allows clients to access policies, download auto ID cards, report claims, request certificates of insurance, and more,” says Sutherland.
Although Hickok & Boardman considers itself a generalist in commercial lines, it has established some particular areas of focus, including construction, manufacturing, social services, and hospitality.
“Our service teams comprised of producers and account managers have the autonomy to place business where it best fits. And once a team has had success in a particular vertical, they continue targeting it,” Sutherland says.
The agency’s great customer service is a credit to its outstanding employees.
“Our hiring process is very selective. We have a high service level expectation and that benefits the client. It also benefits our carriers as well, because we do a lot of up-front underwriting, select quality business, and provide complete submissions,” Sutherland says.
The agency also nurtures a work environment, known to many as the “H&B Family,” with an award-winning wellness program, a competitive benefits package, and opportunity to grow professionally for people of all ages and experiences. Hickok & Boardman has also earned a spot on Vermont’s Best Places to Work for five consecutive years and received a Vermont’s Best of Business Award for the past three years.
Hickok & Boardman is also known throughout the community for its philanthropic and supportive culture. Through its five offices in Vermont and one in New York, the agency partners with local nonprofits, and employees are encouraged to actively volunteer throughout the community. And in celebration of the agency’s 200th anniversary, it set out to raise $200,000 for the United Way this year.
“Given our company’s size, that was an aggressive goal; however, our employees’ response was truly remarkable,” Sutherland says. With the help of carrier partners, the agency shattered its goal, raising over $305,000.
Hickok & Boardman has taken proactive steps to position itself for success in its next 200 years, starting with its November 2019 partnership with Acrisure, LLC.
“That partnership better positions Hickok & Boardman to perpetuate the agency while retaining local control. The access to additional resources helps us place larger, tougher deals, and enter new markets where the Hickok & Boardman name isn’t yet well known,” says Sutherland.
The agency has also made changes within its leadership team. Recently, Paul Plunkett moved into the President and COO role, succeeding Scott Boardman who transitioned to CEO. The agency also established a leadership development program to ensure a bright future for generations to come.
“History has proven we possess a good grasp of the Vermont insurance landscape,” says Sutherland. “Deploying our unique service platform, remaining nimble, and leveraging a virtual world will enable us to expand our client-base throughout New England and beyond!”