James Rhea urges people to purchase insurance from a local agent.
“You should buy from local agents who can meet your needs and understand your needs,” said Rhea, the owner of Rhea Insurance in New Albany. “Everyone needs a local agent whether it’s me or one of the other fine agents uptown.”
Rhea, who is a lifelong resident of Union County, said New Albany is a wonderful place to live and work.
“I’ll stay here until I go to heaven,” he said.
Located at 1006 Munsford Drive, Rhea Insurance has been in business since 1971.
“New Albany has a strong base of good quality insurance agents,” he said. “I’m one of them. I’m not the only one.”
Quality coverage should be the first thing people look for in their insurance, said Rhea.
“It must meet the need of that particular customer,” Rhea said. “That’s going to vary from one to the next.”
Many people do not understand the insurance they have, and that’s why it’s important to have a local agent who can sit down with you and explain the coverage, he said.
Rhea Insurance sells property and casualty insurance for automobiles, homes, boats, motorcycles, four-wheelers and other possessions.
“Everyone must have insurance to protect their assets,” he said. “If you don’t, your assets are at risk.”
When it comes to insurance many people only look at the premium and not the quality of the coverage, said Rhea. Later they may end up regretting they did not have better insurance, he noted.
“The local agent is going to understand your needs far better than someone in another city in another state,” he said. “You don’t get that buying off the Internet.”
The quality of service from the local agent is another thing people should look for when purchasing insurance, Rhea said. The local agent should be available and willing to help the customer whenever that customer is in need, he added.
“That’s why we stay open six days a week,” Rhea said. “We try to treat everyone with the highest level of dignity, respect and friendliness.”
Rhea can visit with clients face to face when they have questions on deductibles and other issues. He tries to develop policies that meet the specific needs of individuals.
“Sometimes you don’t save a lot by moving to a higher deductible,” he said. “No two people are alike. Everybody has different needs.”
Rhea actually has a degree in school administration from Ole Miss and taught school in Ashland for a short period of time before going into the insurance business. He is a big Ole Miss fan, and said, “You know the slogan, ‘on the seventh day God created Ole Miss.’”
Rhea is also a big music fan, and in his office he has autographed pictures from Chubby Checker, Charlie Daniels, Gene Autry and others. He said Gene Autry was a “fine gentleman.”
He also enjoys going to see shows in Branson, Mo., saying, “I’ve never seen a bad show up there.” His favorite type of music is Southern gospel followed by country. He teaches Sunday school and leads the music at Cornersville Baptist Church.
“The Lord’s blessed me,” he said.
Rhea enjoys serving the general public in the insurance business, saying, “We have some wonderful policyholders.” It is rewarding to help people protect their assets, he noted.
“We offer quality products and quality service,” Rhea said. “We strive for that, and I think we accomplish that.”
Rhea Insurance is also an independent agency, which means, “I’m not owned by any company,” he said. He offers insurance from about 10 different companies. The agency takes the time to explain the different coverages in an understandable manner.
“It’s good to have choices,” he said. “We have to be devoted to the customer because it is the customer that we work for.”
Everyone who comes to the agency is treated the same whether they come from a humble or wealthy background, said Rhea.
“I know what it is to come from a humble background because my father was a sharecropper,” said Rhea.
Rhea Insurance also has an experienced staff, including Tina Holt, who has been with the agency almost 19 years, and Betty Haynes, who has been there nearly 22 years.
“They are well trained and experienced,” he said. “They know how to do their jobs.”
Rhea’s wife, Betty, also works at the agency part time.
Over the years, the insurance business has changed dramatically and “you have to evolve with that,” said Rhea.
Premiums have increased over the years, and people have more assets now, he said.
“You should protect those assets or you can lose them” in a storm or accident, he noted.
Rhea Insurance is open Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and can be reached at 662-534-2108.