Celebrating 100 years of success

Williston Park, New York-based insurance agency Hiram Cohen & Son has been a family affair for 100 years. It all began in 1919, when co-founder Hiram Cohen returned from World War I and thought about how he would support his family. His brother James Cohen suggested that they start their own insurance firm, and J&H Insurance was formed.

The Cohen brothers began their business working primarily with corporations. When Hiram’s son Edward joined the firm in the Depression-era 1930s, they had developed a specialized focus insuring business that produced fragrances, linens and luggage. Decades later, Edward’s son—Hiram’s grandson—Ron Cohen joined the agency, continuing the family story. Ron grew the firm by expanding its specialty focus into the bustling garment business.

Fortunately for the firm, which had been re-named Hiram Cohen & Son in the 1930’s, its success insuring corporations accelerated its growth and led to the agency’s expansion into insuring homes and the personal assets of the executives of their corporate clients.

“The owners of businesses we insured also needed to insure their homes, cars and other personal assets, and we wanted to make sure we expanded to satisfy their needs,” Ron remembers.

Today, Hiram Cohen & Son continues to expand its business with corporations and individuals from New York to Florida to California. “Digital communication and travel make it easy for us to work with clients wherever they are,” explains fourth-generation family member Darren Cohen. “Our clients live busy, dynamic lives, and their needs are more sophisticated than ever.”

“We tell our clients all the time—we are your insurance department—so they have one contact for all their insurance needs, and a team with experience and expertise that has been in insurance for generations,” Darren adds.


A different way of thinking


Hiram Cohen & Son has continued to grow. Both Ron and Darren are licensed to practice law in New York State, and this unique skill set has set them apart from other firms.

“An insurance policy is a contract, so who better to analyze a contract than a lawyer, capable of approaching issues in a logical and sequential way?” Darren affirms.

This thoughtful, analytical way of doing business can be seen in many places at the firm. Critical thinking and problem-solving as a team is encouraged, as is keeping clients up-to-date with relevant risk and coverage information. As part of an ongoing educational initiative, for instance, the firm’s new website features news articles, videos, podcasts and other materials aimed at illuminating issues like healthcare reform and hurricane preparedness. Each part of the site serves to better educate clients about their insurance coverage and the exposures they face. And while the firm generates original content, it also curates third-party expertise. “We want to provide our clients with the most up-to-date and complete information possible, so we link to third party articles too,” explains Darren.


All hands on deck


In addition to education, responsiveness is another key to Hiram Cohen & Son’s success. Team members are readily prepared to assist clients when they need it, whether the client is located nearby or across the country.

Courtesy of Darren Cohen

“Our goal is to make sure clients get what they need in a timely fashion. That’s my role, and that’s everybody’s role in the office, because we get things done as an agency—not as any single individual. When we are all rowing in the same direction, it makes getting to the finish line way more efficient,” Darren explains.

At a time when technology has increased the pace of doing business for many, Hiram Cohen & Son aims to remove aggravation for clients and, as its website explains, deliver more than they expect. “Whether it means picking up the phone to talk to a client on a weekend, or boarding a plane to visit a client in Florida or California after a claim, we can help get our clients the answers they need.”

As a handy reminder of the firm’s “do whatever it takes” ethos, Darren frequently consults his favorite desk item. “This mug sat on my grandfather’s desk, and now it sits on mine—it says it all,” he declares.


An extension of the story


In over a century offering insurance coverage, Hiram Cohen & Son has witnessed its fair share of claims, from the everyday to the unusual.

“When it comes to handling claims, nothing can replace experience, and in 100 years we have had so many experiences,” Ron explains. “When our clients have a claim, they need and appreciate someone who can call and get things done because they’ve had the experience before.”

Take, for example, a client who suffers extensive damage to their home, such as from a fire, storm or burst pipe. Not only are their home and personal belongings damaged, but their family also has to move out of the home while it is repaired or even rebuilt. “It is emotionally devastating, and it’s happened to our clients,” Ron explains.

If this situation happened to you, one of the many thoughts you might have is how your family will maintain your standard of living, allow your kids to attend the same schools, minimize disruption to your commute or find a comfortable home while you figure out your next step. “It’s not an easy feat to deliver upon these expectations, but that’s where the companies that we partner with come in,” explains Darren. By working with insurance carriers who offer quality coverage that can respond quickly in situations like these, advocating for clients and responding with speed and personalized attention, Hiram Cohen & Son’s team can help bring back a sense of security for clients after a covered claim.

“We talk to our clients about our claim experiences. Placing an insurance policy is the easy part. Placing the right insurance policy, with the right insurer offering the best coverage available and being able to advise your client because you’ve experienced their kind of claim before with another client is the hard part,” Darren adds.


Building positive relationships


There’s a symmetry in how Hiram Cohen & Son approaches relationships, whether with its clients or the insurance carriers it partners with. Just as the firm respects its clients’ individual experiences in order to make sure their needs are met, Hiram Cohen & Son also respects its strategic partners for the coverage they provide, and the resources they bring at time of claim. Both the broker and the insurance provider have a role to play in helping to make the relationship successful.

It’s this belief that was integral in Hiram Cohen & Son’s decision to work with Berkley One, a new startup personal insurance provider that launched in New York last month. As Darren explains, it was the relationships they had with Berkley One senior management and the respect shared by both teams that made the firm want to take on a new insurance partner in personal lines.

“Our relationships with our partner carriers enhance our relationships with clients, and our relationships with clients enhance our relationships with our carriers,” explains Darren. “It’s a circle that keeps building on itself.”

Hiram Cohen & Son, Inc. offers Personal Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Employee Benefits and Life Insurance. The agency is based in Williston Park, New York.

Berkley One is a Berkley Company.