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First Security Insurance

First Security Insurance

By Kristie Darling

Cover Photo by Shane Greene Photography

On the cover–Jesse Miller, Charles Connor IV,
Joab Cotton with First Security Insurance

Right–First Security Insurance Executive Team:
Front Row–Jesse Miller, Charles Connor III, Joab Cotton • Back Row–Charles Connor IV, Brandon Hedrick, David Rockett

The First Security Insurance Team

First Security Insurance

First Security Insuranc


Any locally owned, family-run business celebrating its 100th anniversary has something special going for it, wouldn’t you say? In the case of First Security Insurance, the top reasons for its 100 years of success are, number one, dedication to service and number two, the people who provide that service. “This is the place to go if you want to speak to REAL people who you can always call and ask for directly!” said one First Security Insurance client. “Best customer service around and will ALWAYS work above and beyond for their customers.”

Understanding insurance can be a bit intimidating…especially if you’re new to needing it, have had it for decades but don’t really know what you have, or if you’ve never had anyone who could help you wrap your head around how insurance works. Well, I resemble all those remarks. What impressed me most when I visited with the team at First Security was their depth of knowledge and eagerness to share and answer my questions. Everyone I spoke with was helpful, friendly, and truly represented this full-service, independent insurance agency with integrity. “Our services go far beyond selling insurance,” Vice President Charles Connor IV told me. “We take a proactive approach with all our clients, whether business coverage or personal insurance. We do it right the first time.”

In 1919, First Security Insurance was the insurance arm of First National Bank of Catawba County. In 1947, First Security Company, Inc. was formed as a spinoff from the bank’s insurance operations. Every shareholder in the bank became a shareholder in the insurance agency. Charles’ grandfather began his career in insurance founding County-Wide Insurance Agency, later to become part of First Security Company, Inc. There’s an amusing story concerning Charles’ grandfather writing one of the first homeowner’s policy written on a brown paper bag from the ABC store in Claremont—just ask about the story!

Charles, who earned a degree in risk management and insurance from Appalachian and holds his Certified Insurance Counselor designation explains, “My father is now chairman of the board. He’s an extraordinary role model and keeps his hand in every aspect of this business. And, of course, our family has been involved in the greater Hickory community for decades. We take our role as community leaders very seriously.”

Charles shared his business cards with me, and while “Vice President” and “Loss Control and Claims” accurately identified his position, he was most proud to say he is “Insurance Educator and Problem Solver.” He explained, “I’m a risk manager in the risk transfer business. We’re insuring peoples’ futures, and when you think about it that way, you’ll understand how critical it is to have the right agent provide you with the right insurance. Building personal relationships with our clients is essential so that we understand their lifestyle, risks, and unique needs. Our team has expertise in insuring everything from small mom-and-pop businesses and large corporations to extensive personal estates, automobiles, aircraft, boats, art, and collections.”

Charles introduced me to Joab Cotton, executive vice president whose 40 years’ experience with the company qualifies him, hands down, as the insurance expert. “I started out as a claims adjuster and underwriter—I’ve worn all the hats,” he said with a smile. “My best advice to the consumer is to make sure you have someone who personally represents your interests, not the carrier. Someone who will go to bat for you if there’s a claim. We own our own contracts with all the carriers we work with, so we can negotiate for our clients.” Joab also shared this advice: Buy direct. “The buzz is all about getting insurance online. ‘It’s so easy, you can do it on your phone,’ is not a good idea. You don’t know if the information is correct or if you’re being conned—you won’t know something isn’t right until it’s too late. You really want to work with real people who know what they’re talking about. Our people are all seasoned insurance experts; they live right here in our community, and they’re your neighbors. They want what’s best for you.”

Jesse Miller is considered the high-country presence of First Security. He’s a partner in the company, and his territory includes anywhere from Asheville to Boone, Blowing Rock to Spruce Pine, Ashe, Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, and Buncombe counties and everywhere in between. “The way I see my job is taking care of all the risks, so my customers don’t have to,” Jesse said. “Most of my business is commercial. I believe small business is America—they are the life blood of our communities. It’s important for me to serve this part of our community well. My focus is representing these hard-working people in the high country.”

Brandon Hedrick is a partner in First Security Insurance, and he serves as treasurer. “I believe that a rising tide floats all ships; in other words, when our communities thrive, the company thrives…we stay involved as much as we can, supporting Hickory City Schools, the Heart Ball, March of Dimes. Giving back to the community is a part of who we are.”

I met Frankie Crouse, a personal line agent who is celebrating her 30th year at First Security. “It’s very satisfying to me when a customer’s insurance really does protect the things that matter most. It could be getting their car replaced after a total loss, stolen jewelry replaced, medical care provided, or when their home is put back together after damage by a fallen tree,” she explained. “People don’t understand what a difference it makes to have us be there for them when there’s a claim…they depend on us, like a family.”

Longevity of employees defines a company’s quality of service. Like several others, Mary Lominac’s 34 years of insurance experience serves her customers well. “I started here when I was 18. I’ve had some accounts for years and years…they don’t consider looking elsewhere,” she said. “We work hard to provide personal service, and because each business’ level of risk is unique, our attention to detail is critical. I have a wonderful mix of customers, and the people I work with here are great—I wouldn’t change a thing.”

The company employs a sales team of five sales agents, fifteen account executives, and six on the management team in three locations: Hickory, Claremont, and Boone. They continually assess their customers’ changing needs and identify new products that might improve coverage, all while building relationships and supporting the community. Their goal is to find the best coverage at the best rates while providing superior customer care. “We represent some of the finest carriers in the industry, and you can trust our unbiased recommendations for the right policy at the right price for your needs,” Charles continued. “We want to be profitable by supporting the well-being of our community in any way we can. We take a holistic view. We’re committed to the folks in our town, not just regarding insurance, but in any way we are able. We truly do offer full-service, personal customer care.”

If you want to learn more, I suggest scheduling an initial consultation to explore new insurance or to look over your current coverage plan. You’ll be able to compare quotes from a variety of carriers, all your questions will be answered, and you will experience First Security’s dedication and commitment to their clients firsthand. A visit now will be well worth your while in the future.

First Security Insurance
212 3rd Ave NW
Hickory, NC 28601

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