well established and here for you

Your Insurance

Advocates

Colton Groome Insurance Advisors has specialized in insurance for more than 70 years. Since 1950, CGIA has helped individuals, families, and businesses with risk mitigation strategies to protect what matters most. 

CGIA believes in offering clients local accountability with global resources. Located in Asheville, North Carolina, CGIA provides you with a fully comprehensive insurance team, including local, friendly faces and a fully supportive, remote back-office (through Valmark Financial Group).

G. Tate Groome

CFP®, CLU®, AEP®, President of Insurance Strategy
Tate joined Colton Groome Insurance Advisors in 2003. He is now Co-CEO and Director of Insurance Strategies: A Certified Financial Planner™, Chartered Life Underwriter®, and Advanced Estate Planning designee, Tate has more than fifteen years' experience providing trusted life, disability and long-term care insurance solutions to individuals, trustees, and advisors. Tate earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and Spanish from UNC Chapel Hill in 2001. Prior to joining Colton Groome, Tate taught elementary education for at-risk youth. Since then, he authored his first book: The Best Policy: Managing Irrevocable Life Insurance Trusts; and was nominated by LifeHealthPro as one of the “Top 20 Most Creative People in Insurance." Since 2014 he has actively consulted for National Trust departments across the U.S. regarding ILIT Policies.

George M. Groome

CLU®, ChFC®, MSFS, Board Chair
George joined Colton Groome in 1974, and served as President and CEO for over 30 years. He brings more than 40 years of insurance service experience, technical expertise, and management to the firm.

As an Asheville native, George graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. He is a Chartered Financial Consultant® and a Chartered Life Underwriter®, and holds a Master of Science in Financial Services from The American College.

During his career, George has been an active supporter of many community organizations including United Way, UNC Asheville, YMCA of Western North Carolina, and the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. He also served as President of the Asheville Association of Life Underwriters and Western North Carolina Society of Chartered Financial Consultants and Chartered Life Underwriters. He co-founded the Land of the Sky Estate Planning Council as well as the UNC Asheville Family Business Forum.

Amy Gillen

New Business Specialist
Amy joined the Colton Groome team in September of 2019. She brings over 27 years of underwriting and insurance-specific experience to the firm. Amy graduated from North Carolina State University in 1992 and holds her life, health and long-term care licenses, as well as her Series 6 license. She works directly with Tate Groome, overseeing all new policy matters and processes.

Laura Greene

Insurance Services Specialist
Laura is a Western North Carolina native from Waynesville. She graduated from Tuscola High School, gained an Associate’s degree from Southwestern Community College in Civil Engineering & Surveying Technology, and earned her BSBA from King University in Bristol, TN (previously King College). Laura earned her life, health, and long-term care licenses in 2019 and became a dedicated member to the Insurance Team.

Taylor Bell

Operations Manager
Taylor joined Colton Groome in 2016 and is a longtime Asheville-native. She graduated from UNC Asheville with a Bachelor of Science in Management, with a concentration in Business Administration. She has 10 years of experience in co-owning a family business—bringing a comprehensive skillset in strategic planning, project management, and client administration. She also holds her life, health, and long-term care licenses.

Your Back-Office

Strategists

Chris Bottaro

MBA, Vice President of Insurance Services, Valmark Financial Group
Chris Bottaro is the Senior Vice President of Insurance for our partner, Valmark Financial Group. He is responsible for the vision, strategy and execution of life insurance marketing, underwriting, new business, and inforce insurance solutions. In this role, he prides himself in partnering with advisors and insurance carriers to help make the life insurance process simpler and more efficient. He has a technical risk assessment background and spent the first 12 years of his career in various underwriting production and leadership positions at Lincoln Financial Group in Hartford before relocating to the Twin Cities to join Valmark in February of 2015. He has an MBA from the Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts, a BA in Economics from Boston College, and holds Series 6 and 26 licenses.

Tom Love

CLU®, FLMI, Life Insurance Analyst, Valmark Financial Group
As the Vice President of Insurance Analytics for our partner, Valmark Financial Group, Tom Love is responsible for advanced life insurance case design, carrier and product analysis, product sales and marketing, development of analytical and educational tools, agent training and agency business development. He brings 25+ years of extensive experience in the life insurance space with experience in a carrier home office, independent agency environment and personal production. His work has been published in industry journals such as Worth Magazine, the Journal of Financial Services Professionals, and is a two-time Editor’s Choice Award Winner for the Journal of Practical Estate Planning. Mr. Love is also a national presenter on topics ranging from “Life Insurance Due Diligence” to “Reviewing and Evaluating the Family’s Life Insurance Holdings.” Mr. Love is author of Valmark’s Love Notes and author of several Valmark white papers. In addition to earning a BSBA in Risk Management and Insurance from the University of Georgia, Mr. Love is a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) and a Fellow of the Life Management Institute (FLMI) and holds Series 6 and 63 registrations as wells as Ohio Life, Health and Variable licenses.

Eric Johnson

Vice President of Underwriting, Valmark Financial Group
Eric Johnson is Vice President of Underwriting for our partner, Valmark Financial Group. He is responsible for risk assessment appraisal, consultation and negotiation on behalf of Valmark Financial Group Member Offices and clients. Mr. Johnson brings more than 30 years of experience in impaired risk and jumbo case underwriting, reinsurance, sales and brokerage operations. He is a presenter at numerous industry seminars and workshops speaking on topics such as Challenging Underwriting Impairments, Jumbo Business and Brokerage Underwriting. Mr. Johnson earned his BA from Luther College and holds Minnesota Life, Accident and Health Insurance licenses. He is a member of the Association of Home Office Underwriters (AHOU) and the Twin Cities Association of Home Office Life Underwriters (TCAHOLU).

Lauren Ballantine,

FALU, Director of Underwriting, Valmark Financial Group
As the Director of Underwriting for our partner, Valmark Financial Group, Lauren Ballantine is responsible for the technical assessment and negotiation of underwriting offers and serves as a contact for all new life business and underwriting. She is an advocate and escalation contact through every stage of the underwriting process, working to anticipate potential issues, identify the most appropriate carrier and negotiate the best possible underwriting outcome. She earned a BA in Biology and Art from the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University, where she received the President’s Scholarship and made the Dean’s List. Mrs. Ballantine is a Fellow of the Academy of Life Underwriting (FALU), a board member of Twin Cities Association of Home Office Underwriters (TCAHOU), and holds Minnesota Life and Health Licenses.

Mindy Shaffer

Team Lead of Concierge Services, Valmark Financial Group
As the Team Lead of Concierge Services for our back-office partner, Valmark Financial Group, Mindy serves at the subject matter expert on all things related to process and procedures for Concierge Services and also serves as the escalation point for any complex items. In addition, Mindy works with our clients to provide excellent customer service and ensures that all life insurance cases get submitted, issued and placed in a timely and efficient manner.

Keith Miller

MBA, CLU®, ChFC®, Vice President of Insurance Planning, Valmark Financial Group
Keith Miller is the Vice President of Insurance Planning for our partner, Valmark Financial Group. Keith works with the insurance planning team to provide advanced case design and sales expertise. His core areas of focus include customized wealth transfer solutions, product analysis and holistic life insurance design. Mr. Miller is a national presenter at the Association for Advanced Life Underwriting (AALU) annual conference. He received his BA from Samford University and his MBA in Finance from the University of Alabama. Mr. Miller is also a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) and holds the Alabama Life and Health licenses.