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Assured and Insured

Sharkey Insurance is a family business that treats every client like a member

The number of insurance companies out there is mind-boggling. It can be hard to decide which company to choose, and which plan best fits your life and budget. Plus, there’s the added frustration of trying to talk to a real-life person when you need to make these important decisions. Who among us hasn’t shouted into the receiver at one time or another, “Representative! Representative!”

That’s when a local family-run company like Sharkey Insurance can save the day. For almost 50 years they have been taking the time to get to know each one of their customers and develop relationships that help carry them through life’s big events.

Sharkey Insurance was started by Harold Sharkey in Missoula in 1975. Today, their office has seven agents and a helpful support staff. Three of those agents include Harold’s son, Ron, and grandsons Ryan and Brandon. Ryan is in the process of taking over the company from his father. He has worked in the family business his entire professional life, having started there while he was a senior at the University of Montana in 2009.

According to Ryan, large insurance agencies are rapidly acquiring smaller agencies like his, but while these larger entities often allow you to handle everything yourself online, the personal touch is sorely lacking.

“You’re basically your own agent, but do you really know what you’re buying? Do you understand liability limits? Are you in a good spot to defend your net worth?” says Ryan. “I think the most important thing when looking for an insurance agent is to find someone you can talk to, someone in town that knows and understands you and your individual circumstances so you can get the best coverage at the most competitive price. That’s what we do. When you call our office, you talk to the same people every time and you’re not getting pushed down the line.”

Ryan explains the process of your initial meeting with one of their agents. “The first thing we do is assess risk, which is a broad term for understanding what your motivation is,” he says. “Are you unhappy with your current company? Are you looking for a specific type of coverage? We have a conversation to find out what’s driving you to us, then we tailor the results to address the reasons you came here.”

After that, they shop the market which Ryan likens to using Kayak to find the best hotel room. Although instead of planning a vacation, this is planning protection of your most valuable possessions, and they take it very seriously.

The next step is to review all the options with you in detail and together you can decide what best suits your needs, budget, and lifestyle. “Our experienced agents know the difference between the carriers. We’ll let the market save you money, but we’re not going to do it by underinsuring your things,” says Ryan.

The relationship doesn’t end there. They also provide support with the claims process and help you review your policy as your life changes. “I tell everyone to review and re-market every three to five years,” says Ryan. “In my opinion, there is no such thing as loyalty when it comes to insurance companies. You might have the best fit already, but it’s worth a look.”

It’s easy to think of insurance solely as a way to protect your possessions, but it can also be a valuable investment tool. Ryan says, “The single most important concept to grasp in relation to financial advice and investment strategy is don’t let your nest egg be stolen because you didn’t buy the right insurance. Ryan explains that it’s important to have a conversation about obtaining an umbrella insurance policy, especially for anyone with a slightly higher net worth. “I don’t ever ask people how much money they make or what’s in their portfolio, but I do tell them we want to defend your hard work.”

When Ryan is asked why he has dedicated his life to the family business, he says “It’s important to me to make and retain relationships. That’s what I enjoy about this work. Our clients are like family. I love watching the newly engaged couple have kids, buy their first home, and upgrade cars. That’s the fun part. This could be considered a dying breed of service, but I believe it’s a service everyone deserves.”

"When you call our office, you talk to the same people every time and you’re not getting pushed down the line.” - Ryan Sharkey

“It’s important to me to make and retain relationships. That’s what I enjoy about this work." - Ryan Sharkey