This week we're featuring our storefront, Valley Forge Insurance Brokerage (VFIB), a national wholesaler that places coverage for 13,000 retail brokers across the country in niche or specialty-type program business with top-rated carriers. Founded in 2006, Pa.-based VFIB has feet on the street in every metropolitan area throughout the country with a team of people dedicated to delivering a quality product for its carrier partners. We spoke with John Sherlock, Senior Vice President, and Debbie Martin, Office Manager, of VFIB, about the qualities that distinguishes the wholesaler in the niches in which they specialize.
John joined the company in 2012 and is responsible for VFIB's growth plans. Prior to joining the wholesaler, he served as president of the Mid-Atlantic Region for Chartis Insurance where he was responsible for the leadership of the P&C operations. John has spent over 25 years in the industry and remains active in the Philadelphia community where he serves on the Boards of Directors of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA of Philadelphia and Insurance Society of Philadelphia.
Debbie has been the Office Manager of VFIB since 2008. She is a licensed Property and Casualty producer, has an AINS designation and is a CPCU Presidential Scholarship recipient.
When we spoke to John and Debbie there were several key factors that separate Valley Forge from others. "It's all about our people," said John. "We don't lose sight of the fact that people do business with those they know and trust, and this has to be earned. We do that with our expertise and by delivering results."
John also explained that the organization is one that's built on high achievers. "We hire the best and focus our efforts around people, profitability, risk management, service and excellence. Moreover, our company culture fosters a philosophy of striking a balance between our work and personal lives with a commitment to health and wellness, which allows us to come into work focused on driving good results for our carrier partners. We're very focused on delivering a quality product for our carrier partners and helping them expand their footprint in the markets they want to be in, in the areas they are looking to serve."
Furthermore, VFIB only focuses on the markets they know. "When we consider entering into a program, we do our research," said John. "We gain an in-depth knowledge of the industry and their concerns. We understand the risk, and deliver a solution that is based on the exposures they face."
An integral part of the solution that VFIB offers is also partnering with agents and brokers that don't have access to carriers for specific niches and hard-to-place accounts. "Rather than just placing the insurance, we get involved with the agents to help them structure the application, going through the risk and placing the business with the carrier in a matter in which they are happy," said John.
VFIB focuses on Workers Compensation in niche industries, working with A-rated or higher carriers. "Our key programs," explained Debbie, "include Non-Profit Organizations, Social Services, and Religious Organizations. The programs are competitively priced, and we provide quick turnaround time on quotes, pay-as-you-go options, multi-state capabilities and guaranteed cost. Some of our niches include: day care centers, sheltered workshops, group homes, elderly living facilities, charitable organizations, among many others."
VFIB also has diversity in terms of its offerings within their programs, opening up markets for hard-to-place risks such as Ocean Marine Cargo, Professional Liability for Law Firms, and Event Cancellation insurance.
"Our programs are available on an open-brokerage basis, and we can write coverage in all 50 states," said Debbie.
"The key to all our programs is our underwriting strength," underscored John. "We have strong relationships with our carrier underwriters and they have a great deal of confidence in our underwriting ability. They trust us because we understand the niches we serve so well. This gives us a competitive edge. We know what we're doing."
For more information about VFIB's programs, please call 866.516.1776, or email