By Catherine Kolonko
A Rancho Santa Fe company with decades of experience in the personal insurance industry has established a strong presence in the community, opening additional branches and expanding its product offering to include health coverage.
When owner Craig Edwards began his company, Rancho Santa Fe Insurance, 25 years ago — in the same community it’s named after — he specialized in equine and personal insurance for the affluent. The company quickly grew “seemingly overnight,” said Vanessa Snodgrass, who joined the business in 1999 and now serves as its chief operating officer.
Over the years, success of Rancho Santa Fe Insurance led to more branches in La Jolla, Palm Desert and Newport Beach. The company’s 12 employees specialize in homeowners, auto, collections, yacht, aircraft, health and life insurance, as well as umbrella policies that cover liability gaps in other policies.
Because they act as an independent broker, employees there can shop for the best coverage at a competitive price without the limitations sometimes imposed by individual insurance companies. They also do business with firms that offer their clients up to $100 million in liability coverage, which is important for clients with large estates.
“The general rule of thumb is to make sure that their net worth is protected,” Snodgrass said. “So if they find themselves in a lawsuit, they don’t lose their assets...”
After more than two decades in the business, what Edwards, the owner and company president, enjoys most is meeting clients from all over the world and hearing how they achieved their success. A Rancho Santa Fe resident, he also values community involvement. His company lends support to several organizations, including San Pasqual Academy, Sharp Hospice Care, United Cerebral Palsy, Rancho Santa Fe Community Center and Rancho Santa Fe Historical Society.
Edwards grew up in Iowa where he developed a love for thoroughbred horses, spending weekends at Aksarben Race Track in Omaha, Neb., with his parents. Before moving to Rancho Santa Fe in the early 1980s and starting his present company, he worked as a bloodstock agent, selling and insuring horses for clients in the U.S. and overseas.
Edwards’ company focus is personal insurance in the high-value market, for example, coverage of homes with a replacement value of $1 million or more. A list of testimonials on RSFinsurance.com features praise from Rancho Santa Fe residents who are some of San Diego County’s well-known citizens, including Padre’s Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn, author Joseph Wambaugh, and Andrew Viterbi, who cofounded Qualcom.
The first step in assessing risk for new clients is a review of their current policies and assets, said Snodgrass. Valuable art and jewelry are often overlooked and underinsured. “Some companies, the most they will pay out for jewelry is $2,500,” she said. “That’s not really going to cover most of our clients’ jewelry.”
Snodgrass suggests that people in the market for insurance first consult with an independent broker who can shop for the best deals. Try to package insurance policies because buying your car, house and umbrella policy with the same company can save money.
For homeowner policies, it’s also important to find a company that will inspect the house before insuring it, so that individual needs unique to that property are not overlooked. Another tip — some insurance companies offer complimentary background checks on domestic employees, a measure designed to improve safety and prevent theft of pricey possessions.
People who buy homeowners insurance want to know that it will serve its purpose if and when disasters such as wildfires strike. Some insurance companies offer complimentary wildfire protection services that involve spraying a house with a fire resistant gel or other substance when fire is approaching and removing it when the danger passes, said Snodgrass. That service saved clients’ homes when it was deployed during the destructive wildfires of 2007, she said.
Snodgrass attributes the success of Rancho Santa Fe Insurance to first-rate customer service from employees who know the value of building and maintain relationships.
“Their clients know them and they know their clients,” she said. “This is their home and their family that we’re talking about. The property that we are insuring is near and dear to their hearts.”
Rancho Santa Fe Insurance is located at 6105 Paseo Delicias in Rancho Santa Fe. More information about the company is available at its web site RSFinsurance.com.