About Us




The professionals here at Merit Insurance have spent years acquiring advanced education and experience in the insurance industry. And as a result of the positive workplace environment that we’ve cultivated over these many years, we are all able to work together as a cohesive team serving your insurance needs in an efficient, speedy, and friendly manner.


Agency Biographies

Sean M. Carroll, CPCU, President – Sean has over 24 years in the agency’s management. He is very active with national and state leaders in the industry and has served on numerous advisory boards of the leading insurance companies. He is a past president of both the Southern CT Chapter of CPCU and Greater Bridgeport Independent Insurance Association. Sean has also been recognized by Connecticut Magazine as a Five Star Professional in property & casualty insurance since 2011.

Sean is very involved in the community which has lead to formulating very strong client relationships. He is currently a board member of St. Vincent’s Health Services /Medical Center, the St. Patrick’s Scholarship Committee, a founder of the non-profit organization FOCUS Inc. and an active volunteer of the Kennedy Center Inc., Barnum Festival and various Trumbull Connecticut Youth programs.

He is a past chairman member of Hall-Brooke Behavioral Services, and a former board member of Housatonic Community Foundation, Notre Dame Catholic High School and Fairfield University Alumni Board. He is a graduate of Stratford High School and Fairfield University. [email protected]

James A. Benson, CPCU, Executive Vice President and Managing Partner – Jim has been with Merit Insurance for 27 years, and has over 30 years of experience in the insurance field, specializing in larger Property and Casualty accounts, including contractors, manufacturers, property owners and developers, non-profit organizations, and financial service professionals.    He is very active in the industry.  Jim emphasizes strong, in-depth client interaction and involvement, and uses those relationships to better serve the client.  He is actively involved in various industry groups, including the Professional Insurance Agents Association (Past President), and the  Southern CT Chapter of CPCU (Past President).  He is, or has served on, several Insurance carrier Counsel groups, including the Hartford, Travelers, and Hanover Insurance Companies.  Jim also serves as a consultant to the National Association of Remodeling Contractors (NARI).   Active in the community as well, Jim has served as Chairman of the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce, and currently serves as a Director and Executive Board Member of the Bridgeport Regional Business Council.  He is also a member of the  Stratford Economic Development Council, and is an appointed Ambassador for the Sterling House, a non-profit organization located in Stratford CT. [email protected]

Robert Caldwell, CIC, Vice President–Bob joined Merit Insurance in 1994 after working as a Senior Commercial Underwriter with Travelers.  This underwriting background gives Bob a unique expertise in the commercial insurance field.  He specializes in construction, manufacturing and environmental insurance. Bob has served as chairman of the Stratford Economic Development Commission and has served on the Stratford Historic Commission. Bob is also heavily involved in youth coaching through Sterling House and Pony Baseball. [email protected] 

James Tomchik, CPCU, President of Merit PLC– With over 40 years of insurance experience, Jim is President of Merit PLC, a division of Merit Insurance which specializes in Professional Liability coverage, including Lawyers Professional Liability. He has served on numerous committees for The Hartford and The Travelers/Aetna, including the Aetna Elite National Committee. Jim was also Chairman of both the Bridgeport Regional Business Council and The United Way of Eastern Fairfield County. [email protected] 

William Carroll, (of Counsel) —  Bill is the past Chairman of The Hartford and Aetna National Agent Advisory Board. With over 35 years of insurance experience, he has been recognized both statewide and nationally for his ability to transform a small Personal Lines company into a large Property and Casualty Risk Management agency. Bill presently serves as Chairman of the Board at St. Vincent’s Hospital Foundation.
Kenneth Schod, Benefits Consultant– Ken has over 20 years experience as an Employee Benefits Agent. He has sat on the advisory board of Connecticare.  He is also a member of the Southwest Chapter of the National Association of Life Underwriters and a Certified Member of the Connecticut Partnership on Long Term Care. [email protected]
Edward C. Buckmir, Director of Operations — Ed oversees the day to day operations of the agency.  A licensed producer, he also handles all agency Bond business.  He has over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry. Ed served on the Burroughs Community Center Board of Directors and was a volunteer tutor at Mercy Learning Center. He is also a volunteer coach for Sterling House Community Center Girls Soccer and the Stratford Rec Girls basketball. [email protected] 

David S. Lavine, Producer– David Lavine has been in the insurance business for fifty years. He is the former President of Marcus Hirsch & Company. He is the Co-President of the Probus Club of Greater Bridgeport. [email protected]  

Eileen Rappa, Producer– Eileen has over 30 years personal lines experience, both on the carrier and agency side.  Primarily working in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, She is extremely knowledgeable about flood and coastal property insurance issues.  In addition, Eileen has a great deal of experience with  Auto (especially youthful operator exposures), umbrella, rental property, small commercial exposures and difficult to place risks. [email protected]
Andrew Trister, Senior Account Executive– Andy has over 20 years of consultative insurance sales experience; both with direct writers and independent brokerages.  While primarily focusing on commercial property & casualty risks, Andy is well versed in personal lines coverage and holds his Life & Health license to fulfill his clients’ needs. [email protected]
Ryan Kelly, Agent– Ryan embarks on his business career as an insurance agent with Merit. He is a 2016 graduate of Eastern Connecticut State University, where he majored in finance and minored in accounting. He completed an internship with Northwestern Mutual while in college. Ryan has earned his Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS) designation and graduated from Acadia Insurance Company’s Underwriting & Loss Control training program. [email protected]

Employee Roster


Donna Mladina
Commercial Lines Representative
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Michelle DiLeonardo
Commercial Lines Representative
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Jessica Resto
Commercial Lines Representative
Sheila DelPrete
Commercial Lines Representative

Marlene A. Leja
Claims Manager
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Meghan White
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Karen Ingaran