our story

valparaiso first insurance

since 1924

100 years of experience

Valparaiso First Insurance holds a distinguished position in the insurance industry, having served the community of Valparaiso, Indiana, for 100 years. Throughout its long history of being a family-owned agency, Valpo First has been committed to providing reliable and comprehensive property and casualty insurance services to its valued clients. We are proud to be able to provide our customers access to the exceptional companies we represent, which include Auto-Owners, Erie Insurance, Indiana Farmers Mutual, Safeco, Society Insurance, and Grand River Insurance. 

Established in the vibrant city of Valparaiso in the year 1924, the company was driven by a vision to safeguard the financial well-being of individuals, families, and businesses by offering quality insurance coverage. In 1974, Charles Welter became sole owner of Valpo First Insurance and placed great emphasis on establishing strong relationships with its clients. The company works closely with customers, taking the time to understand their unique insurance needs and offering tailored solutions. This commitment to personalized service quickly earned the trust and loyalty of the local community, and Valpo First Insurance became known as a reliable partner for protecting homes, businesses, and possessions.

Over the years, Valpo First Insurance has actively participated in community events and initiatives, demonstrating its deep-rooted commitment to the well-being of the Region and its residents. The company has sponsored local sports teams, organized educational programs on insurance awareness, and contributed to various charitable causes, reinforcing its role as an integral part of the community fabric.

As Valparaiso and the Region experienced growth and economic development, Valpo First Insurance grew along with it. Expanding its range of insurance products and services to cater to the evolving needs of the community. From residential and commercial property insurance to auto insurance, liability coverage, and more, Valpo First Insurance ensured that it could provide comprehensive coverage for any situation that may arise. 

Valpo First Insurance has also embraced technological advancements to improve efficiency and enhance customer experience. With the advent of online platforms and digital tools, the company implemented innovative solutions, allowing clients to access policies, make claims, and communicate with agents conveniently.

With every interaction, the company strives to exceed expectations and promote our core values of integrity, reliability, and a genuine concern for the well-being of its policyholders. As Valparaiso and the Region evolves, Valpo First Insurance stands ready to protect the dreams and assets of its policyholders for generations to come.

our team

providing the best customer service

Charles P. Welter

Most people know Chuck as the President of First National Bank, Valparaiso for 24 years. He steered and formed the bank into one of the most stable and successful in the country, until his family sold the bank in 2007. In addition to banking, Chuck has owned Valpo First Insurance since 1974, shortly after obtaining his MBA at Notre Dame following his undergrad at IU. If you do not see Chuck in the office, then you may want to check the golf course. Even that may be tough though, as he is a Golf Digest world golf course rater and may be traveling the world on his next trip. With all of his business success, his largest contributions have come from his generosity and community service. Chuck has been President of several organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, Valpo Parks Foundation, YMCA Foundation, and Indiana Golf Association.

Jason Schwerdt
CIC – Commercial Lines, Personal Lines And Life

Jason grew up in Valparaiso, IN after moving from Logansport, IN at the age of 9 when his father retired from 20 years in the Air Force to continue flying commercially out of Chicago. After graduating from Valpo High School in 2001 he attended DePauw University finishing with an Economics major and was Captain of the Golf team. Jason joined First National Bank, Valparaiso as a Commercial Loan Officer and was there for 2 years until the opportunity arose to join Valparaiso First Insurance in 2007. A member of the Valpo Rotary Club, Valpo Schools Foundation Board, Northwest Indiana Junior Golf Association Board, and chairing various Golf Outings. Jason believes in giving back to the community that supports him. He is also very committed to his clients by continuously increasing his insurance education and obtained his respected CIC designation in 2012. Focusing on Commercial Lines, Personal Lines, and Life Insurance he is a great asset to have on your side. Residing in Valparaiso and married to his wife, Joselyn, they welcomed their first child, Theo, in June of 2016. Their second child, Mia, entered the world in June of 2018 and they are awaiting the arrival of their third child in September 2023.

Cindy Faricelli
Personal Lines, Bookkeeper
Cindy is a licensed agent who also serves as the bookkeeper and human resources manager. Cindy is a lifelong NWI resident and obtained her Accounting Degree from PNC with minors in Supervision and Human Resources. She has been a Certified Trust Auditor as well as a graduate of the Graduate School of Banking. Before joining Valpo First, she had a very successful career with First National Bank, Valparaiso as Assistant Vice President – Auditor. Cindy is an avid runner, gym enthusiast, loves traveling, and spending time with her husband and dog.
Lisa Pieters
Commercial Lines, Personal Lines
Lisa is one of our licensed agents serving as a Customer Service Representative. She grew up in Wisconsin and moved to Illinois to complete her undergraduate degree from Wheaton College. Lisa began her career in third world relief & development and community health care administration. She transitioned to insurance as an Account Manager for commercial clients in Philadelphia, PA. Lisa, her husband Matthew, and their children moved to Valparaiso in 2013. Lisa and her family enjoy traveling and hiking outdoors. Their favorite place to visit and hike is the German Alps. On weekends, you can find Lisa’s family at one of the children’s sports events or walking by Lake Michigan with their dog.
Donna Howell
Commercial Lines, Personal lines

A lifelong Valparaiso resident, Donna began her insurance career in 2007 after working for First National Bank, Valparaiso for 27 years as Vice President of IT Systems. Her work ethic and knowledge of personal insurance is impressive, however her ability to assist clients is her true asset. She has many titles within the agency including IT Manager, Office Manager, and Personal Lines Manager, but she feels her title as parent of two successful children is her proudest achievement. Donna has many hobbies to keep her busy when she is not in the office so you may see her with her family, playing golf (did we mention that she is an accomplished golfer?!), traveling, or playing volleyball.

Kelly Martinez
Personal Lines, Customer Service Representative

Kelly grew up in Lake County, graduating from Griffith High School in 2003, where she enjoyed being the accompanist for her high school choir. This led her to teach piano to young beginners and encouraged her to pick up multiple instruments and give them a whirl as well. Ukulele and piano are her favorite to play. Kelly attended Purdue University for a few years focusing on secondary education. Moving to Valparaiso 10 years ago with her family led to working with the Valparaiso Community schools as treasurer and secretary at Cooks Corners Elementary School. Kelly has been an active Board member with Jacob’s Ladder Pediatric Rehabilitation Center for 3 years, focusing on fundraising for the nonprofit organization. An opportunity at Valpo First Insurance opened, and she took it. Taking insurance education courses, passing the National Insurance Licensing Exam, and continuing her education in insurance has been quite the new adventure. Loving every minute of it.

Kyle Knutson
CIC – Commercial Lines, Personal Lines and Life
Originally from Lake County, Kyle is a graduate of Crown Point High School where he was an accomplished track & field athlete competing in multiple state championship track meets. Upon graduating from Indiana University – Bloomington in 2006 he promptly began his career with Auto-Owners Insurance Company. Over the next nine years his positions included personal lines underwriter, commercial lines underwriter, field underwriting/inspector/auditor and marketing representative all while completing continuing education insurance courses. Kyle and his wife Nicole live in Chesterton, are avid dog people and enjoy spending time at Lake Michigan or exercising outdoors. They were blessed with their son, Jacob, in 2018 and daughter, Katelyn, in 2020. Kyle is a proud Valparaiso Noon Kiwanis member and is active in other organizations throughout the community.