Cousins Insurance

Submitted / The Herald

Wetumpka-based Cousins Insurance Agency representatives, from left, Marsha Casey, Joe Bennett and Sandra McCullough accept an award from Auto-Owners Insurance for 50 years of outstanding service and dedication. The local agency’s roots go back to 1914 when it was established by Bruce Airy.

Wetumpka-based Cousins Insurance Agency was recently recognized by Auto-Owners Insurance for 50 years of outstanding service and dedication.

Owner Joe Bennett said success in the world of insurance is about treating people well.

“If you’re good to people and treat them right and help them with their problems, they appreciate you,” he said.

Bennett’s insurance career began in 1964 in the mailroom at Gulf American, where he worked his way up to become a commercial lines underwriter.

Bennett left Gulf American in 1973 to become an inside, commercial lines independent agent at Aronov Insurance.

In 1976, Bill Gray, owner of Cousins, hired Bennett to work for him in Wetumpka.

“I have to give (Gray) the credit for my success because he gave me an opportunity to be at an independent agency in Wetumpka,” Bennett said. “I thank Bill for being instrumental in my insurance career.”

In Sept. 1993, Bennett bought the agency from Gray.

He said the business of insurance has not changed much since his days at Gulf American.

“We used to do everything by hand, now everything is computerized and online,” Bennett said. “But this is still a people business. We still have to talk to our customers and handle their needs. 

Customers still need insurance on their homes, cars and business. It is still handled the same way as it was years ago. It is still a people business.”

Bennett said he serves several clients today that were with him in the 1970s.

The agency was established in 1914 as Airey Insurance Agency. In 1962, Charles Cousins purchased the agency and changed the company’s name to what it is today. 

After Cousins’ passing, the agency was purchased by Gray in 1975. 

“We maintained the Cousins name because it is a relevant name in the community,” Bennett said. 

Bennett said one of his career highlights happened in 2009 when his peers awarded him with the Alabama Independent Insurance Agents Association Insurer of the Year Award.

He said it is the highest honor an agent can receive.

The annual award is given to one independent insurance agent who exhibits outstanding moral character, community service, leadership within the association, service and dedication to the independent agency system and the industry.

“This was one of the greatest honors ever bestowed upon me,” he said.

As for Bennett’s successful career, he gives the credit to God, his family, his employees and loyal customers.

“I have been a blessed person through Jesus Christ, God’s son and our Savior,” he said. “I could do nothing without him and without family support and the dedicated employees who work for Cousins. The Tri-County area customers have been very loyal to us and we look forward to continued support from them.”