VERNON, NJ - Joel Lazar is a father, skier, hiker, pilot, a former black belt team competitor in the martial arts, and a community servant. And when he is not doing all those things, the Vernon resident owns his own agency for Farmers® Insurance.
He was recruited by other Insurance groups, but chose Farmers, which just expanded into New Jersey in November 2011, because of what he called its “superior claims service and rate integrity.”
As a Farmers agency owner, Lazar still makes house and office calls.
“Why should the customer always come to your office? Many times with insurance agents, it’s difficult to get them on the phone, and when you go into the office to see them they’re not available,” Lazar said. “I want to be different. I want to provide outstanding service, one that people won’t want to leave. It’s the type of service I want for myself, so it’s what I provide to others.”
Another mantra that Lazar adheres to is to always keep the client’s interest in mind first, prior to his agency’s, or the insurance companies he represents.
“Everybody wins when it is done right,” he said.
He discussed the importance of being properly insured. For example, when purchasing car insurance, it is important to carry adequate limits in the event an accident happens with someone who is uninsured or underinsured.
“Without proper coverage, you’ll be footing the bill if you are in an accident with the wrong person.” he said.
“Another issue that was a huge problem recently was homes without Flood Insurance. Flood is a standard exclusion in all Homeowners’ Policies,” said Lazar. “I was receiving calls non-stop when Hurricane Sandy was imminent. They were all looking to add Flood Insurance. Unfortunately, I had to turn them all away. We can sell and service Flood Insurance, but it is a federal program with rules and rates set and managed by FEMA. There is a 30-day waiting period from the date you purchase coverage, and the date it takes effect. So you can’t just add it when you hear there is a hurricane or tropical storm around the corner and expect to be covered in time.”
Lazar also pointed out the importance of Renters’ Insurance.
“Many people think that if they rent an apartment, condo or single family home and anything gets ruined in a covered loss, the landlord is liable but that isn’t true,” he said. “That’s the renter’s loss, and they could also be held liable for third party bodily injury, or property damage. Renters’ insurance is so inexpensive that there’s no excuse not to have it.”
Lazar came back to New Jersey in 2011 for family reasons, but before that he lived in Hawaii, California, Florida, Colorado, the Carolinas, Nevada and Canada.
“Hawaii was my favorite place to live,” Lazar said. “There was always something special to do. Every day was an amazing day because of the culture and surroundings. We went hiking through bamboo forests, snorkeling alongside coral reefs, and boating past an active volcano. We’d see pods of whales throughout the winter. I lived there for four years, and the magic never wore off. It was so beautiful. The water was perfect, the weather was perfect, and it’s just something you can’t put in words.”
However, skiing is another passion of Lazar’s, one that he shares with his daughters, Jade and Shayna.
“We love to ski Colorado, and we have season passes to Mountain Creek,” Lazar said. “Both of my girls have been skiing since they could walk. I actually learned to ski on Mountain Creek as a teenager, when it was known as Vernon Valley-Great Gorge.”
While he has never flown as far as Colorado on his own, Lazar became a licensed pilot at 19, learning to fly at Morristown Airport, and the New York Traffic Control Area (TCA).
“I used to fly for business, and I went as far west as Ohio and as far south as Tennessee. Now I don’t fly for business any longer, only for pleasure,” he said.
Lazar has always been involved in the communities he has lived in, something he is passionate about, he said. He was previously a Children’s Home Society Board Member in Florida, and was elected Board Member of the year by his fellow board members.
“I’m just getting involved here in Sussex County now,” he said. “I’m a member of Sussex County Chamber of Commerce and the Franklin Hardyston Chamber Council.”
Lazar is also working with the Center for Prevention and Counseling in Newton. He is providing his services as a volunteer consultant.
“They have asked me to help them with a marketing project. It’s a great way to get involved civically here and help the community,” he said.
Community involvement runs in Lazar’s family as well. Both of his daughters have been in Girl Scouts, and 4-H.
“They also work with me at some charitable and promotional events,” he said. “My mom was a Social Worker in Morris County for 20 years, and now in retirement still volunteers with the elderly in nursing homes.”
While many New Jersey residents may not have heard of Farmers Insurance, it is the third largest insurance group in the United States. They have been in business since 1928. The company offers home, flood, renters’, life, auto, business, and recreational insurance. Lazar can be reached at 973-600-1112
or jlazar@FarmersAgent.com. Click here for his Farmers Agency website
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