Insurance premiums are going to increase this year, but the merger of two local long-time agencies may offer you more options for yourself or your business.

The newly formed AssuredPartners executive team includes (from left) Brett Benton, senior vice-president/sales leader; Paula Itule, chief operating officer; James Mann, president, Janelle Conaway, controller and John Heitel, vice-president (submitted photo).

So says James Mann, agency president of AssuredPartners, a new insurance broker that is the result of a merger of Horizon Insurance Agency and Hester, Heitel & Associates. Mann and Michael Mustacci started Horizon Insurance Group, Inc. in 1990 with the goal of offering clients the appropriate insurance program at cost-effective prices. Hester, Heitel & Associates, Inc. was founded in 1953 in Phoenix and provided insurance for individuals and businesses. The agencies merged in November and in January were acquired by and are operating as AssuredPartners, which is reportedly one of the fastest growing insurance brokers in the country.

Mann said that the newly configured company can offer access to more insurance carriers.

“I can insure anything anywhere in the world,” he added. “We represent a significant amount of insurance companies. We have the option to shop different carriers that have different coverages, different offerings.”

Hundreds of small and mid-sized businesses in North Central Phoenix are AssuredPartners clients. The company also helps clients find property and casualty insurance, long-term care, bonds and surety, health and personal insurance.

“If you own a home here and buy another one in Hawaii, we can insure that,” Mann said. “A lot of carriers may have issues with that. We can insure exotic vehicles. A large art collection, that’s not an issue for us. The high volume is not a problem for us.”

His advice to business owners is to “be thorough” when choosing insurance to protect their employees and assets and “don’t always look to just the lowest price.”

“Businesses have big exposures and they want to buy the appropriate coverage,” Mann said. “Sometimes that requires (someone) to pay a little bit more. Those businesses have or can have serious issues, like a fire for example. You want to know when the fire occurs that everybody understands they’re protected.”

He also advises clients seeking automobile insurance to think about what type of coverage they will need in case of serious losses and not just focus on premium costs.

AssuredPartners was founded in 2011 as a national partnership of independent property and casualty and employee benefits brokerage firms and is based in Lake Mary, Florida.

The new agency is located at 7500 N. Dreamy Draw Drive, #100. To learn more about the company, visit





  • Colleen Sparks

    A 25-year industry veteran, she's written for a variety of outlets including The Arizona Republic, East Valley Tribune, Money Talks News, and North Central News.

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