Independent insurers merge

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Carraway, Cohen & Channell Insurance Agency and AHS & Associates Inc. are now ACHS Insurance Protection Group.

Two independent insurance agencies announced Wednesday that they have merged to create what company executives say is Augusta's largest insurance firm.

 

Principles for the Carraway, Cohen & Channell Insurance Agency and AHS & Associates Inc. said the merged agency will be called ACHS Insurance Protection Group.

The combined company will employ 32 and oversee 8,000 commercial and personal accounts generating $35 million a year in revenue.

"We'll be heads and shoulders above everybody else," said David Alalof, the president of AHS & Associates.

Financial terms of the merger were not disclosed.

Mr. Alalof said the size of the merged company will give it better negotiating power with insurance providers and allow it to offer clients a broader array of insurance products.

AHS & Associates specializes in life and health insurance and employee benefit programs, whereas Carraway, Cohen & Skinner focuses almost exclusively on property-casualty insurance.

Longtime AHS client Rick Rhoden, the managing partner of Rhoden C.P.A. Firm, said he was excited to learn he will have access to a wider array of services.

"This just opens up so many more opportunities," he said.

The companies said they will officially notify all customers this week.

ACHS Insurance will initially occupy the Carraway, Cohen & Skinner office at 1229 Augusta West Parkway but will likely have to move into a larger space.

"We'll have to move, the question is how quick we'll have to do it," said Mike Carraway, the president of Carraway, Cohen & Skinner.

In addition to Mr. Alalof and Mr. Carraway, ACHS Insurance's partners are Hal Cohen, John Hollowell, Donald Skinner and Sexton Surles.

AHS & Associates was founded in 1990 by Mr. Alalof and his partners after leaving Cohen-Walker Insurance, which in 1992 was acquired by Dawson, Taylor & Co. Insurance.

Carraway, Cohen & Skinner's roots date back to 1936, when the company was incorporated as Harlem Insurance Agency Inc.

Mr. Carraway and Mr. Alalof said they had been flirting with the idea of a merger for years but entered serious discussions only three months ago. The deal could not proceed until Mr. Carraway and his partners reacquired their Augusta-area book of business from Birmingham, Ala.-based Cobbs Allen & Hall, which acquired the agency, then known as Carraway, Cohen & Channell, in 1999.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

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