By Brooke Foster
Florist Erica Honaker can testify that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but when it comes to insurance, a reliable brand matters.
Honaker’s Bloom — a floral design and gift shop in Pike Road — received an unwelcome visitor last January when a deer bounded through its windows. She soon found a shop in shambles wasn’t her only headache.
“I had the hardest time getting anyone from my insurance provider at the time to physically come out and assess the situation,” Honaker said. “Today, I tell everyone that making sure you’re insured with a company that is going to show up when you need them is a crucial step in owning your own business.”
While her then-provider was slow to respond, local Alfa Insurance Agent Jake Farmer showed Honaker a rosier side of customer service. Farmer, whose office is in the same shopping center, was one of the first people on the scene after the deer broke through Bloom’s storefront.
“The simple act of Jake showing up made me realize how important it is to be insured with a company that I can depend on,” said Honaker, who soon switched her business insurance to Alfa. “You hear claims from every company that they’re the best, but with Alfa, that’s actually true, and it’s because of people like Jake.”
Farmer said his quick response after hearing the clamor was instinctive.
“Something like this could happen to anyone at any time,” Farmer said. “I’m just glad Erica was OK and that I could be there to help.”
While most of Alfa’s deer claims deal with automobiles, the company is prepared for any incident, Farmer said. Alfa customers made more than 5,900 deer-related claims in Alabama in 2022, including 182 in Montgomery County.
“That’s why it’s so important to work with someone you can trust,” Honaker said. “It’s nice to have someone like Jake explain all the fine print and details that come with an insurance policy and to also reassure me that if something like this happens again, he’s going to be there for me.”
Alfa Insurance President Jimmy Parnell said Farmer’s actions reflect the “Alfa Difference” — the company’s commitment to deliver on its promises and policies. That community-minded culture led Farmer to Alfa five years ago.
“I’m proud to work for a company that treats not only its employees as family, but customers, too,” said Farmer, whose parents are both longtime Alfa employees. His father, Jeff, is the company pilot; his mother, Lisa, recently retired as vice president of Risk & Compliance.
Honaker has helped the Alfa family grow since last January, referring friends and family to the Alabama-based company. New customers include Taylor Skipper, whose salon is just two doors down from Bloom.
“As a small-business owner, I’ve always appreciated good customer service,” Skipper said. “After hearing of Erica’s positive experience with Jake, I decided to move my business to Alfa, too. It’s been the best decision.”
Farmer said he admires the tenacity of his small-business customers.
“They’ve worked hard to build their businesses from the ground up, and I am honored to be a small part of helping keep what means so much to them protected,” he said.
Today, Bloom’s “Pretty. Happy. Things.” neon signage means more than ever to Honaker, whose business has thrived since the deer disaster.
“Owning a business isn’t easy,” she said. “It comes with a growing list of challenges and, sometimes, heartbreak. But when you love what you do, it’s all worth it.”