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Interview: Charity First Offers Experience in Non-Profits You Can Believe In

Posted on 14 Jun 2011

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This week we're delighted to be featuring our storefront, Charity First, a San Francisco-based MGA and program administrator specializing in insuring non-profits and social service agencies since 1985.

We spoke to Riley Binford, Executive Vice President of Charity First about the company’s programs. Riley first joined Charity First in 1990, running the MGA for seven years, and returning in late 2009 to head up the operation once again. He’s been in the insurance industry since 1979, and during the last 20 years Riley has been significantly involved with non-profit social service agencies and the development of insurance programs for them.

“Charity First has been providing programs for non-profits for more than 25 years with Travelers, who has a rating of A+15,” said Riley. “We have good strong paper and our target is primarily social services agencies. We write a great deal of residential care facilities for children from dysfunctional families, transitional living centers, shelters for battered women, as well as foundations, food banks, and clubs that have a service side, such as Junior League or Kiwanis. We also write for-profit corporations that have the look and feel of non-profits, such as alcohol and drug facilities, group homes for the developmentally challenged. The key is that the organizations are social-service oriented.”

Charity First insures about 5,000-6,000 non-profits on a nationwide basis (excluding Hawaii), and provides Property, General Liability, Professional Liability, Sexual Abuse, Inland Marine, Crime, Auto, Directors & Officers, Umbrella, and Workers Comp, in addition to international coverage for those non-profits with this type of exposure.

Riley explained that in this soft market what distinguishes the MGA is first and foremost its experience, financial stability, and longevity. “As I mentioned, we’ve been offering programs to non-profits since 1985 with Travelers, a financially strong carrier who has been around for a long time and will continue to be around,” said Riley. “There are some carriers who will enter the market during the soft market and then they’ll pull back or withdraw completely once the market hardens. Throughout the years, we've always practiced good underwriting discipline and have been very consistent.

“What we bring to the table is experience and an understanding of what we’re looking at. These are difficult risks in terms of exposure, particularly the larger non-profits. From an insurance agents or broker’s point of view, you want to work with someone who has the underwriting expertise in this space, and not a carrier unaccustomed to looking at this business,” said Riley.

Travelers’ claims handling is another distinguishing benefit of Charity First’s programs. “Travelers has a fantastic claims department, with a reputation to back it up. We receive many calls from agents wanting a quote from Travelers on an account because they know the claims department is great."

What’s more, Charity First, in addition to offering its Package Policy, Property or General Liability coverages, will also entertain Worker’s Compensation. “No one else is really doing this…we’ll look at providing Worker’s Compensation on a standalone basis if it makes sense,” explained Riley. 

Charity First has also expanded its time-tested insurance programs for religious organizations with an insurance program tailored exclusively for denominational/non-denominational churches, synagogues, temples and more. The programs offer General Liability, Property, Sexual Abuse/Molestation, Medical Payments, Corporal Punishment, Pastoral Professional, as well as several optional coverages.

For additional information about Charity First’s programs, please call Riley at 800-352-2761 or contact him via email at: