Ten Questions With The Daigle & Travers Team

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Part of what we do and love at Daigle and Travers is the people we work with. We sat down with our two CPIA D&T Partners Tom Ayres and Eli Zimmer for a Q&A. We asked them about how they became a part of the D&T family and what they have learned along the way.

What makes Daigle & Travers different from other insurance agencies?

Eli: We focus on coverage and protection of the client vs. focusing on price. Everyone knows that price is important, but it doesn’t matter what the insurance costs if you don’t have the correct coverage when you need it.

Tom: I think most agencies tend to strive for the same basic goals including promises to their clients that most never quite fulfill. It’s been important to me to build an agency with a true focus on the client: consistent touch points, renewal reviews, claims assistance, and education. Where most agencies fail, is their lack of willingness and ability to provide the education the client needs to make the best decisions with their insurance. We sell based on our “coverage-first” model which focuses on appropriate coverage, dependable customer service and the best in claims services. We expect our clients to have the right coverage and for that coverage to work smoothly for them when they need it to.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Eli: I would tell my younger self to embrace all the opportunities that your way. Going into insurance at the young age of 26 allowed me to grow up in the industry while having some work experience in other industries.

Tom: I loved my first job in insurance and I learned a lot for which I am grateful, but I would push my younger self to become an owner sooner. I have learned so much at Daigle & Travers that I wish I had known earlier in my career. I would also reassure myself to be true to myself, that being ethical, honest and a straight shooter makes for a good sales person.

If you weren’t doing insurance, what would you be doing?

Eli: From a young age, I knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur.

Tom: Graphic design or advertising. I have a creative side that generally manifests itself these days in social media and other marketing materials, drawings, doodles, etc.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your years at Daigle and Travers?

Tom: Honestly, I learned that I don’t know everything. I have grown tremendously as an insurance man, boss, co-worker, partner, employer, salesman, and friend in 4 years. I think this is one thing that makes us great. We want you to be you. We want to teach you what we know and fold into our system the awesome ideas our employees bring to the table. That mentality has led to changing many processes, building out niche businesses and modifying all aspects of what we do.

What kind of insurance do people often overlook?

Eli: Everyone is different, but we really encourage people to purchase umbrella or excess liability coverage, it’s the cheapest coverage you can buy to make sure that you are protected from covered lawsuits.

Tom: For personal lines that could be the umbrella policy, but honestly, the one coverage or policy most often ignored or blown off is the inland marine or valuable articles policy. Most people tend to assume their home insurance covers their valuables and to a degree it does. However, it’s so limited that electing to not insure your $30k engagement ring when the diamond falls out could end in receiving at most maybe $5k. It goes beyond just jewelry: art, collectibles, coins, stamps, wine, silverware and other high value items can be limited if lost, stolen or misplaced. I have seen some awful losses because of the refusal to purchase the additional coverage.

Where do you see D&T in 5 or 10 years?

Eli: Hopefully, still expanding and continuing to perfect our craft. We never want to get to the point where we let service slip, so our main focus is to give our clients the best experience possible.

Tom: At the moment, we are set on improving upon our reliability, accessibility and product offerings so that we can continue to deliver upon our promise to provide a true advisory service focused on the benefit of coverage first as a priority.

What is your favorite part of working at D&T?

Eli: Working with clients, every day brings something new and different.

Tom: I get to work with some really dedicated people. We have a great team committed to always pushing forward, growing and getting better. On top of that, they are all simply good people. Trustworthy. Honest. Caring. You can’t put a value on that. We are blessed.

What inspires you?

Eli: Watching my team succeed.

Tom: I get to work with some really dedicated people. We have a great team committed to always pushing forward, growing and getting better. On top of that, they are all simply good people. Trustworthy. Honest. Caring. You can’t put a value on that. We are blessed.

What are you most proud of at D&T?

Eli: I am most proud of our growth. Over the last 15 years, we have become a household name in the region. When I joined D&T 15 years ago, we were a small mom and pop shop and now we are an established brand.

Tom: In four years, I have negotiated through a 3 year long non-compete that painfully kept me from my prior clients. We bought another agency and I moved there to integrate it into D&T almost immediately upon joining. We then opened our Westport office two years later. We built an accounting department, empowered an HR department, overhauled our commercial team, added strong managerial leadership, built an equine department, strengthened our personal lines department capabilities and increased the size of the agency by almost 45%. We got involved in the community, adjusted to COVID and met the demands of our clients impacted by numerous storms.

What would you change about the insurance industry if you could? Or What do you hope to see more of in the insurance industry?

Eli: Technology. An expansion of technology on the agency side will allow us to better service our clients.

Tom: I’d love to see the industry really work to turn the tide on its perception by the public. To do so, it would take the industry taking a long hard look at itself. I hate the gimmicks and price focus. The biggest, most well-known insurance carriers spend billions to commoditize insurance which does a tremendous disservice to both the industry and the public. Those discount insurers spend so much on advertising that the only way to keep their margins where their stockholders need them to, is to cut corners elsewhere…in the policy coverage and claims handling. It’s a recipe that can see a basic claim go just fine, but a larger claim turn into a nightmare.

Fun question: What is your dream home/car/boat?

Eli: I’m not a fancy person, I have a great home in Westport, an F150 truck and a fishing boat. I’m a happy guy.

Tom: I used to be more materialistic and dream big…somehow having four kids squeezes that out of you. I love my house and you won’t see me owning a boat any time soon. If money was no object, I’d probably lean towards a Ferrari F8. It’s simply gorgeous.