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Wateridge Insurance finds way to grow through word-of-mouth

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Wateridge Insurance Services serves 10,000 customers in 15 states, but is still only about the sixth largest insurance company in San Diego. Working in such a crowded field, Wateridge has tried to distinguish itself through its association endorsements and word of mouth.

Wateridge is a multibroker insurance company, selling auto, home, renters, umbrella, watercraft, motorhomes, scheduled property, motorcycle, and health and life insurance policies. However co-owner John Clanton said his company's primary focus is commercials lines. While the company does advertise ("It's important to get your name out there"), they focus more energy on networking in the business sector.

"We secure endorsements from different agencies as a way to market ourselves," Clanton said. "We also use referrals, word-of-mouth."

Organizations such as the California Glass Association and the Association of Pool and Spa Professionals each have close ties to Wateridge, Clanton said, as do a number of local contractors, giving the company many clients in the construction world. This helps Wateridge compete with other insurance companies that dominate the San Diego scene.

Clanton and his business partner, Jeffrey Byroads, opened Wateridge Insurance Services in 1984 under the parent company TCS Enterprises, which is now a mortgage bank. Both Clanton and Byroads had worked in the insurance industry prior to opening the company -- Clanton for Liberty Mutual before going to TCS and Byroads for EBI before TCS. In 1991, the partners bought their company from TCS Enterprises and have owned it in full since.

In addition to conducting business throughout California, Wateridge sells insurance in 15 states, reaching from Hawaii to Alabama. The company's office, not far from Torrey Pines Golf Course, employs about 50 people.

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