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Benefit power brokers: life.

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W. Scott Gantt, RHU, GBA, CEBS

President

Benefit Controls of the Carolinas Inc.

Charlotte, N.C.

As president of Benefit Controls of the Carolinas, W. Scott Gantt wears many hats.

He is involved in health insurance, dental insurance, disability (short- and long-term), human resources and wellness consulting, and life insurance. "Scott handles our life insurance through Hartford, and our rates have not significantly increased in 10 years," said the director of human resources at a South Carolina aviation company.

"We even have auto and homeowner's insurance through Travelers at a 30 percent discount."

Adds the HR director: "Scott has saved us so much money it's unbelievable. He handles all of our insurance."

The director of human resources at a South Carolina law firm cites the extensive consolidation work Gantt and others at his firm conducted on her company's behalf in shaping up the life insurance needs of her firm's members.

"Before Scott came in, we did have a program in place but costs were getting out of hand and nobody was handling customer service," she said.

"Scott bid that out and we've been very happy with it. He has saved the firm a lot of money. Plus the administration is a lot easier for us. And we've been very pleased with the customer service."

Why has she been so pleased with Gantt's service?

"I think it starts with integrity," she said. "He has the highest integrity. I trust him. He's in a class of his own on that score."

Not to mention Gantt is smart enough to secure a great supporting cast, this client added. "Plus he surrounds himself with good people," she said. "And they are very responsive. He's a real person, very genuine."

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Gary Block, AALU

President

Mid America Group

Gallagher Benefit Services

Philadelphia

Like his father before him, Gary Block instills the utmost trust in his clients.

"We trust what he's going to tell us," said the treasurer of a high-powered, New York-based law firm.

"We have some very sophisticated needs and we can be very demanding," the client added. "Gary quickly understands things. He is very responsive and he cares about getting things exactly right."

Like others, the law firm treasurer noted that Block has a relaxing manner that puts you at ease. "Gary is very deliberate, very thoughtful," he said. "He is precise, accurate and patient."

Added a client at another New York law firm: "He's the most honest insurance guy I know. He always puts his clients first. That's just the way he is."

The client is also impressed with Block's ability to communicate the necessary information in a way that is easy to understand.

"He clearly understands the technicalities of our needs," said the law firm client. "He can clearly explain all the ins and outs of insurance. His presentations are much clearer than anything I've seen from any of his competitors and his follow-up is great."

In the past year, Block and his team helped a client in designing and implementing a life insurance program which combined a tax-deferred alternative investment vehicle earmarked for partner retirement income with a low-cost death benefit component that will save the firm in excess of $1 million over the next five years.

Over the years, Block has counseled hundreds of attorneys and their firms on structuring the appropriate amounts and types of life insurance necessary to provide adequate protection for their heirs.

For corporate executives, he has utilized the unique tax features of life insurance to offer attractive investment opportunities and tax deferral mechanisms in order to supplement retirement income.

The founder of a sizable travel agency cites Block's persistent proactivity as one of the main reasons he has used Block as his broker throughout all of his business endeavors, including the founding of his global travel management company.

"He's always willing to invest in a company in its early years," said the admiring entrepreneur. First and foremost, Block is honest--"especially in areas that are opaque and complex. He brings transparency to these areas."

Further, the business man said Block and his people are always willing to meet with somebody in person at any time. "That provides significant dialogue," he said.

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Max H. Smith, CLU

Chairman

Roach Howard Smith & Barton

Dallas

Max Smith is an honorable man, a humble man, a very knowledgeable, attentive to detail, always-on-your-level man.

Just ask business associates who have known him for 20, 30 or 40 years.

Also consider a recent situation involving a client who wanted his federal estate taxes taken care of should he and/or his spouse unexpectedly pass away. The client, an affluent business professional, was an extremely precise individual who required copious documentation before moving forward.

The first challenge in satisfying this client was communication. Because the client often was out of town for a month or longer, it took several attempts to reach him. This back-and-forth process alone took six-plus months.

Another obstacle was the instability of the stock market. In this situation, stock market conditions were an important consideration because the policy premium was to be paid out of investments in stock.

But after nearly a year-long process, Smith and his team were successful in providing the product and premium the client desired.

Said one client: "I'm married to this guy. He's so honest and sincere. If he says he'll do something he gets it done. If he doesn't know the answer to something, he'll tell you he doesn't, and then he'll got get you the answers. He is good at doing his homework. He does all my insurance."

Adds the president of a Texas-based bank: "Max is very attentive to detail. He handles business on a personal relationship basis. He is very pleasant to work with, but he will fight for you. He is very honorable, with the highest integrity."

One and all say of Smith that he is an honest, religious man and a good neighbor.

"He's very outgoing, very friendly," said one client. "He really cares about people."

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Gary Delaney, CEBS

Senior Vice President

ABD Insurance and Financial Services

Wells Fargo Insurance Services

Torrance, Calif.

In the past several years, ABD, led by Gary Delaney and another team member, has created a group insurance benefits purchasing cooperative for California municipalities, which includes a very cost and coverage-effective group life insurance component.

ABD currently has more than 150 California municipality clients in the cooperative who are saving an average of 5 percent to 15 percent on their annual rates and premiums. As an example, ABD's most recently acquired city client, with 450 employees, benefited from $60,000 in savings on just their non-medical benefits alone.

This type of performance leads to praise such as that from the chief operating officer at a legal consulting firm, which has used Delaney and his team since the mid- 1990s.

"Gary is very thorough, and he knows how to draw on the many resources at his firm," said the legal beagle. "1 feel very confident he gets good deals for us. He makes the proper introductions for us at the right time, and doing things at the right time is what is important."

Adds the personnel director for a major Southern California municipality: "He is a man of integrity who delivers great service."

What stands out about Delaney for the executive director of a large state's joint powers insurance authority is Delaney's ability to understand the needs of his complex organization and then create the right approaches to the markets that fit those needs.

"He thinks about his client's best interests, not necessarily his own," noted the executive director.

Personality-wise, Delaney is a good judge of character. "You immediately feel at ease with him. You feel like he's genuinely interested in you. He's friendly, with a self-effacing sense of humor."

In the area of group life insurance, the scale of the purchasing cooperative approach shows the wide range of Delaney's capabilities. It produces lower rates and better coverage features than what is available in traditional individual programs.

ABD's customers benefit from a range of life insurance coverage enhancements that include: a $5,000 child care benefit; a $5,000 higher education benefit; a career adjustment benefit (trade and professional training required to enter or re-enter the job market); line of duty benefits for police officers; and three- to five-year rate guarantees.
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Publication:Risk & Insurance
Date:Jun 1, 2008
Words:1394
Previous Article:Benefit power brokers: retirement.
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