Hugh Cotton Insurance Thrives For Three Generations

Alma L. Figueroa

Hugh Cotton posing with his 1968 Camaro. (Invoice FREDETTE-HUFFMAN)

In 1948, the submit-WWII boom was in comprehensive swing when Hugh Cotton, Sr., opened an Orlando bar he dubbed The Royal. The retired insurance policy company govt experienced dreamed of tending a watering hole where by locals could dance, perform shuffleboard and gossip over a Tom Collins or whiskey bitter. By day, insurance was his match in the type of a minor downtown agency, Hugh Cotton Insurance plan. When Hugh, Sr., died unexpectedly, his son, Hugh, Jr., marketed the bar, shut down his timber business and stepped in to make the insurance business enterprise.

Rapid-forward quite a few many years. The house of Mickey experienced come to town and nearby tourism was growing speedier than you could redeem your E-tickets. Beefy King now experienced been serving its now iconic roast beef sandwiches for a 10 years. Hugh’s grandson, Tom Cotton, a freshly-minted 1978 Boone High University graduate, wasn’t dreaming of next in his dad’s footsteps. An adventurous teen who pedaled his bicycle to Wekiva Condition Park to camp with mates and who boated and waterskied on nearby lakes, Tom imagined he’d be part of the Marines. But his dad manufactured him an offer he could not refuse: “Just attempt the best-rated insurance coverage program at Florida Condition College, ‘and if you do not like insurance policy, I’ll send you to any college in the globe to analyze anything you want, or you can graduate and go into the support as an officer.’”
“I imagined he did not enjoy me for the reason that he was a die-really hard Gator lover,” Cotton recollects, laughing. “But that’s when my earth transformed. I beloved it up there. It is exactly where I achieved my wife. And he was proper, I acquired to analyze underneath the brightest minds.”


Right until he was 4 many years aged, Tom and his relatives had lived in an condominium above the familiar Curry Ford Highway offices his father crafted in 1950. Apart from for his go to Tallahassee, Cotton has in no way lived far more than a mile from the office environment. In 1999, he took about as president and CEO. Nowadays, Hugh Cotton Coverage is the oldest (74 a long time), biggest privately-held agency in Central Florida, insuring folks, mom-and-pop organizations and multi-national businesses that utilize 1000’s. Hugh Cotton’s regional “world headquarters” employs 14.

Promises for the Books

Just after yrs of results as a 3rd-generation coverage male, Tom Cotton has found almost each and every assert conceivable, from hurricane-broken roofs to ransomware assaults.

And then there was the situation of the doggy bite. A male was wandering all around a warehouse insured by the Cotton firm. “He walked all-around the corner and the pet dog clamped down the nearest area a pet dog can bite.” Ouch. It was the premier assert his company at any time paid.

1 declare settled by Cotton’s company was that of a client who turned a very good friend. Mark Whitmire’s 75-year-aged Whitmire’s Home furniture creating, a further historic area business enterprise, dropped its roof through a microburst, a tiny but harmful downdraft from the core of a storm.
“It arrived out of nowhere and lifted the roof straight off our retail outlet,” states Whitmire, now a hunting pal of Cotton’s who admires his friend’s insurance coverage enterprise savvy. “Tom was on that quickly. His knowledge of the business is second to none.”

Hugh and Tom Cotton of Hugh Cotton Insurance. (COURTESY HUGH COTTON Insurance policy)

Insurance—It’s No Joke

Insurance plan jokes are a dime a dozen. Fleetwood Mac got insurance for “Landslides.” Adam and Eve required coverage. What is the fantastic identify for a lifetime insurance coverage salesman? Justin Scenario.

But it’s no joke if people don’t have adequate coverage and wind up struggling a disaster, an incident or yet another everyday living-switching event. And Cotton has learned through encounter that staying well prepared indicates extra than just covering just about every plan base.

In 2004, when Hurricane Charley blew into Orlando, the Cotton firm’s premier property owner coverage provider was Penn Charter, located in the little town of Lititz, Pa.

“Charley hit on a Friday. Saturday, our environment changed,” he recollects. “We had 2,000 insurance policies with Lititz, and Lititz is not answering the cellphone. We got hold of the president—tracked him down on his mobile phone—and he goes ‘We’re possessing a parade!’ I said we’ve bought a catastrophe in this article, so by 2 o’clock on Saturday, Lititz experienced their places of work up and operating.

The original Curry Ford Road area. (COURTESY HUGH COTTON Insurance policy)

“The insurance coverage industry is accomplishing a better occupation now. And I’ve got a 70-kilowatt generator sitting in my parking great deal prepared to go,” he claims. “I have to be all set to go. I can notify a organization how to prep, and I can convey to you how to prep your residence for a storm.”

He also can explain to you that, as our substantial-tech planet modifications, cyber insurance protection to secure against hackers and ransomware is a thing a lot of organizations haven’t regarded as. “If you simply click on the completely wrong backlink coming into your e mail or text, lousy issues occur,” Cotton warns. “Cyber insurance coverage helps you restore your details, negotiate and shell out the ransom.” It also pays for the business’s down time, credit history monitoring of clients whose individual facts has been hacked and extra.

“Average ransom has absent from $5,000 to $320,000. It is a element merchandise for us. It’s really specialized but it commences the conversation: What do you do to shield by yourself?” he says.

On weekends, when Cotton’s not preparing for worst situation eventualities, the married father of three usually takes out his boat or races his prize 1968 Camaro on the east conclusion of city.

He and his buddies also hunt wild boar and alligators. Is there a liability coverage for that? You wager. Cotton shaped his own insured journey-manual company—Eagle Outdoors—to be positive he’s included.

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