He’s a new Knowledge Partner, but Anthony Chiarito understands the value of EO Chicago. In fact, he’s been building relationships with fellow entrepreneurs for years.
Chiarito started his career as an independent trader at the Mercantile Exchange. He enjoyed being his own boss, but as his role evolved, he decided to start out on his own. “I wanted to continue on that entrepreneurial path,” he says, “and I liked that in insurance, the market is big and there are recurring revenue streams.”
In January 2008 he became what’s called a “scratch agent” for American Family Insurance. As the name implies, he didn’t inherit a customer base; he had to build his own book of business from scratch. He focused on property and casualty insurance—business insurance, workers’ compensation, general liability, cyber liability, etc.—and the majority of his clients were entrepreneurs. He was successful, becoming one of the leading agents in the region for nearly four years. Then, American Family Insurance offered him the opportunity to become a district manager for DuPage County, and he took it.
In 2016, he decided to leave the corporate side and return to an agency role with American Family Insurance, this time acquiring a couple of existing agencies, but still focusing primarily on property and casualty insurance. It was then that he decided to enroll in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program.
“I had been removed for about five years from being an actual business owner,” he explains, “and I wanted to enhance my skills.”
During the three-month program, he was introduced to Sonny Balani, who told him about EO Chicago. Chiarito says, “I enjoyed the learning and the comradery that I experienced with 10,000 small businesses, and I was looking to extend that.”
Prior to becoming a Knowledge Partner, Chiarito was in EO’s Accelerator program for two years, where he was a rising star.
“I had the privilege of moderating Anthony’s EO Accelerator group,” says David Stolark, senior partner of Porcaro Stolarek Mete Partners. “This guy has an energy and a will to win like no other. He puts everything he has into delivering great service and creating a family atmosphere—for his clients and team members alike. His firm’s stellar reputation is a direct reflection of Anthony’s leadership. We are truly fortunate to have him as a part of EO Chicago.”
In the past year, Chiarito was looking for ways to evolve his relationship with EO—ways to provide value to the other members. He says, “I decided this year, even with all the craziness going on in the world, I would become a Knowledge Partner.”
Business During COVID
In March—the same month Chiarito became a Knowledge Partner—he connected with EO member Anthony Ramirez, president and CEO of Lincoln Security Services. Ramirez says, “I reached out to Anthony at the start of COVID to talk about creative ways that I can immediately save money on my insurance to free up cash. Anthony’s advice was invaluable and freed up much-needed cash to help weather the storm.
“It’s worth noting that I was not a customer at the time and Anthony took time out of his schedule to talk with me,” Ramirez adds. “I’m now a happy AmFam customer!”
Many of Chiarito’s clients found themselves in the same situation as Ramirez. “With the COVID shutdown, we had a lot of customers that had no more revenue, but their fixed costs were still there,” Chiarito says, adding that he insures a lot of restaurant groups. “One thing that we did proactively was reach out to them to make midterm adjustments to lower their payroll, which lowered their workers’ comp premiums and also their general liability and liquor liability.
“It saved our customers literally thousands of dollars monthly—at a time when revenue was at a minimum and there was a lot of uncertainty,” he continues. “I was proud of my team, that we did that proactively without having to be asked.”
Chiarito is also proud of a new product that American Family Insurance is offering—a product he helped develop.
“For condo buildings, office buildings, apartment buildings, and mixed-use, our unique proprietary product offers stackable limits, which makes it very cost effective while providing an abundant amount of coverage,” he explains. “We’ve been writing a lot of business on that—we’re seeing about 30 percent savings across the market. That’s helped us acquire business even through COVID, because those buildings still need to be insured. That’s been a highlight of 2020.”
As Chiarito’s team has worked with businesses to reduce their liabilities—and, thus, their premiums—there has been one area where risks have increased during the pandemic: cyber crime. He believes this is one of the most valuable pieces of advice he can give to EO members: ensure you’re covered for cyber attacks.
“More people are working out of their homes, which is an easy access point for hackers,” Chiarito explains. “We’ve seen at the industry level that cyber liability claims are up—and that’s just for people that have coverage. We come across a lot of people that have no cyber liability protection for their business, and these kinds of attacks can really cripple the business.”
He goes on to note that the coverage not only covers businesses financially, it ensures business leaders never have to deal with things like Bitcoin ransom. “These companies that restore your business—they take it literally from A to Z,” he says. “You won’t have to deal with anything. It’s amazing.”
Even if entrepreneurs don’t decide to go with American Family Insurance, Chiarito wants to ensure they have the right coverage. “I just want to give options,” he says. “I’m the first person to say when it doesn’t make sense to make a move. My goal is to make sure that you’re in a better place after you’ve talked to me—knowing more about your coverages and your exposures.”