CSEA Retiree Program Specialist Christine Meehan recently spoke with Pearl Insurance President Gary Hickey about why the relationship with Pearl and CSEA is such a valuable benefit for CSEA Retirees.

Christine Meehan (CM): Gary, I have been with CSEA for 16 years, back when Pearl Insurance was known as “The People of Pearl Carroll.” It seems that Pearl has always been a fixture at CSEA. How long does that go back?

Gary Hickey (GH): Our relationship with CSEA goes back 81 years. CSEA pioneered the volunteer insurance program using its strength of membership to benefit its members and we have been right there — as Ter Bush & Powell, Jardine, JLT Services and Pearl Carroll. It is important to note that even though we changed the name, “The People” haven’t changed.

Another distinct value in the CSEA/Pearl relationship is through you, Christine. A relationship is the state of being connected. CSEA and Pearl Insurance are exactly that: we are connected and here for one purpose: CSEA Retiree Members. As the CSEA Retiree Program Specialist, you are a direct contact that can guide retirees from the starting point.

Retirees can be sure that they are speaking to the right person, whether it is insurance or member benefits. Your role at CSEA as the point person for retiree members is a trusted comfort for them and for Pearl. It is another factor that makes our relationship so great.

CM: What makes Pearl Insurance’s program different than what other insurance companies offer?

GH: We offer everything members may need in their lives. Our program has a full range of offerings from dental and vision to hospital & home care recovery insurance, as well as home & auto insurance to boat and RV. We even have critical illness and pet insurance available. The privilege of knowing that we’re making a real difference in the lives of people when they need it most is the best source of motivation we could ever have.

CM: Sometimes, I hear questions from retirees about other union retiree associations and their insurance programs. How does CSEA and Pearl compare with their programs?

GH: Pearl Insurance is the only endorsed provider of voluntary insurance programs for CSEA. We work for the members. Pearl Insurance has changed tremendously over the years, but one thing has remained constant — our belief in maintaining personal relationships with our clients, their membership and our carrier partners. The reason why that matters is that they work exclusively with each member to give them the best value and range of available products.

CM: Let’s say a member didn’t join our union’s Retiree Division until several years after they retired. Can they still get Pearl Insurance products if they never had them while they were working?

GH: Absolutely. Once they become a CSEA Retiree Member, they become eligible for all the retiree programs that we offer.

CM: I know locally people have an agent. Does Pearl have agents or is it all “online?”

GH: We have a team of agents for the Retiree Life & Health programs and a team of agents for the Personal Lines programs, which is out of our office located in Albany, NY. You can reach any of our agents by simply calling (877) VIP-CSEA and choosing your option from the menu.

CM: Television ads about auto and home insurance are on all the time. Is it true “ the bundle and save” approach really can save a CSEA Retiree money and is that something Pearl does?

GH: It is true and very important, however, we go further than that. Pearl Insurance offers a convenient buying service so you can get free quotes from many different insurance companies to find the right combination of coverage and price with just one phone call.

CM: Does Pearl do anything else to make sure that CSEA Retiree members are always paying the best price for the coverage they want or need?

GH: We have a dedicated team of policy review specialists who will contact you to review your policy prior to every renewal and a dedicated Customer Service Department fully staffed to assist with billing questions.

CM: I have been attending many Retiree meetings and it seems that members don’t always realize what is available to them. Would you like to talk about your new program called “Pearl Talk” that will run in The Retiree News?

GH: We are very excited about “Pearl Talk,” Christine! You and I will be sitting down from time-to-time to discuss each of the programs that Pearl Insurance offers to retirees, and “Pearl Talk” will be featured in upcoming editions of the CSEA Retiree News. We will discuss our dental and vision plans, critical Illness, hospital & home care recovery insurances, as well as the Pearl Insurance personal lines program.

CM: Thank you so much, Gary, for taking the time to speak with me. We look forward to continuing this relationship with Pearl in the future. It is nice to know CSEA Retirees have a trusted source for all types of insurance with that personal relationship that has made this such a good deal for CSEA members.

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