IIAO’s Leader Retires
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Vol. 36, No. 4
PUBLISHER Dan Ramsey, CIC EDITOR Kathy Rose, CPIW MANAGING EDITOR Kathryn Jenson White ASSISTANT EDITOR Sarah Cavanah PRODUCTION EDITOR Cathy Cinotto
PROFESSIONAL STAFF President/ Chief Executive Officer Dan Ramsey, CIC business manager/comptroller Malinda Day OkMAP Administrator Cindy Munden, CISR
salute to dan ramsey
Chairman David Eaton, CIC
Extra Dan Ramsey, CIC
5 10 13
LEGAL Tom Cooper EDUCATION Susie Current
Denise Johnson, CIC
E&O Program Manager Lyra Roberts
ON THE COVER This month’s cover photograph is a tribute to IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey, who is retiring after 16 years of service to the association. His leadership has helped IIAO not only grow and prosper in its mission of serving independent agents in the state but also helped it achieve national recognition for its effectiveness.
POLICY is the official publication of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma. POLICY is published quarterly and distributed to all member agencies and other interested parties in Oklahoma. Manuscripts and contributions are welcome, and will be considered for publication at the discretion of the IIAO Publications Committee. Correspondence and advertising inquiries may be addressed to IIAO, P.O. Box 13490, Oklahoma City, OK 73113. Ph: 405-840-4426 or 1-800-324-4426
OID UPDATE John Doak
Farm/RLI Program Manager Cindy Munden, CISR
EDUCATION/MEMBERSHIP COORDINATOR Candy Burton
Young Agents Committee Daniel O’Neil
20 STATE DIRECTOR
Education Director Susie Current EVENTS & COMMUNICATION MANAGER Cathy Cinotto
Young Agent Spotlight: Cody McNeill TrustedChoice.com and Project Cap Growing New Member Spotlight
NEWSMAKERS 24 in brief 29 ABOUT IIAO
The Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma is the largest insurance trade association in Oklahoma. With more than 475 independent insurance agencies, we represent nearly 4,000 independent insurance agents and their employees. IIAO member agencies range in size from one person to some of the largest agencies in the region.
staff located in Oklahoma City. IIAO’s mission, shown below, is carried out through a variety of programs designed to enhance the business of independent insurance agencies.
Founded in 1906 as the Oklahoma Association of Local Fire Insurance Agents, IIAO is a result of the consolidation of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, Inc. (IIAO) and the Oklahoma Association of Professional Insurance Agents (OAPIA) on Jan. 1, 1992.
IIAO is affiliated at the national level with the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America with offices in Alexandria, Va., and Washington, D.C.
IIAO policy is set by a board of directors elected at the annual convention. Policy is implemented by a professional
IIAO MISSION STATEMENT
IIAO is an active advocate on behalf of independent agents before legislative, regulatory and judicial groups in Oklahoma and at the federal level.
IIAO is an excellent source of information through POLICY magazine, published quarterly, and the Oklahoma Agent, a monthly newsletter of time-sensitive material for its members.
The mission of the Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma, working in the public’s best interests, through active member participation, is to be the unrelenting advocate of independent insurance agents and to fulfill the education, political and business needs of its members.
Trusted Colleague In my long career, I have met many generous men and women from whom I have learned, and Dan Ramsey is in the top tier of those committed insurance professionals willing to help others advance. David Eaton, CIC Advantage Insurance Group, El Reno CHAIRMAN
IIAO Leadership Officers
Mark Carlin, CIC Cole, Paine & Carlin, OKC TREASURER
Phil Eitzen, CIC Eitzen Agency, Fairview SECRETARY
Thad Leonard Carl M. Leonard & Son Inc., Tulsa STATE DIRECTOR
Denise Johnson, CIC ECI Insurance, Piedmont IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN
Ed McGrath CIC, CRM Wilcox & McGrath Insurance, OKC
Guy Landes, CIC Louis Blosch Agency Tulsa
Mark Tedford, CIC Tedford Insurance Jenks YAC CHAIRMAN
Daniel O’Neil Oklahoma Agents Alliance, OKC
first met Dan Ramsey around 1980. I was definitely a rookie in this business, having joined the small Gadberry-Meyer Insurance Agency in March 1979 as manager. My agency owner also owned a savings and loan, real estate office and abstract company, all housed in the same building. The owner sent me to the two-week Hartford Insurance School, for which I was grateful, but it was a crash course considering I came from a retail background. A few weeks after taking the course, I met Dan at an association function or one of our insurance carrier meetings. Whatever the event, he obviously took pity on me because of what I am pretty sure was a deer-in-the-headlights look. I still remember sitting with him and picking his brain: Without hesitation he dished out wisdom on the operation of an agency. During that meeting, he offered an invitation to come to his agency in Chickasha and see firsthand how he operated. He never promised me that his methods were the correct way of doing things, but at least they were a way. I am not ashamed to say that I copied many of his methods of operation, and I’ve never regretted that decision. I can’t believe that it’s been almost 35 years since our first meeting. I stayed involved in the Independent Insurance Agents Association but never felt that I had the time to commit to a leadership position. Being the only owner/producer of my agency for the first 20 years, I was focused on building my business and feeding my growing family. When I was approached about five years ago and asked if I would serve as a board member, I knew it was time. With both of my sons in the agency and a very dependable staff, I could carve out the time to give back to my profession, and I am ever so glad I did. I was surprised and honored when I was asked to serve on the executive committee. Serving on the IIAO board and the executive committee and as the current chairman has been one of the best experiences of my career; however, getting reacquainted with Dan has been the most rewarding aspect of my associa-
Serving on the IIAO board and the executive committee and as the current chairman has been one of the best experiences of my career; however, getting reacquainted with Dan has been the most rewarding aspect of my association journey. tion journey. I have never met anyone as knowledgeable, friendly and committed to his position with the association as is Dan. Having the chance to work, play some golf and travel with him and his wife, Marilyn, has been a blessed experience I shall treasure forever. Things haven’t changed much in one way since my first meeting with Dan 35 years ago: I continue to learn from his knowledge, commitment and leadership. Thanks, Dan. It’s been fun.
REGIONAL DIRECTORS RED CARPET ZONE 1
GREAT PLAINS ZONE 2
Wes Magill, CIC
Larry Neal, CIC, AAI, LUTCF
Magill Insurance Agency, Weatherford
J.T. Neal Agency Lawton
GREEN COUNTRY ZONE 3
FRONTIER COUNTRY ZONE 4
LAKE & TRAIL ZONE 5
KIAMICHI ZONE 6
Chris Torres, CIC
Archey-Warren-Dunn Insurance Agency Broken Bow
Mike Somers, CIC
Kelly Smith, CIC
Oklahoma Agents Alliance OKC
Somers Insurance Agency Lindsay
JWB Insurance Holdenville
2014 OkPAC Investors
OkPAC is IIAO’s political action committee. It provides financial support for state elected officials who will provide support for or have shown support of issues affecting the insurance industry and to those who share our business philosophies. Only individuals or partnerships can make contributions to OkPAC. Under Oklahoma law, OkPAC can accept no contributions from corporations. John Battaliou Brad Berrong Paul Thomas Caraway Kent Carlin Mark Carlin Michael Cottom James H. Couch Hal M. Curry Frank (Rick) R. Dawkins Malinda Day John E. Dillingham Jennifer E. Dotter Karen S. Dunn David Eaton Ryan M. Eaton Philip D. Eitzen Diane (Brenda) Ferrell
Ben Gorrell, Jr. Vaughn Graham Vaughn Graham, Jr. Raymond M. Hale, III Robert W. Hess Gary Jarmon Denise Johnson Larry Johnson Guy M. Landes Thad Leonard Wesley R. Magill Pat Mandeville Mick Matheson Edward J. McGrath Jon L. Moon Larry D. Neal Heidi Nease-Walker
Tiffani L. Nunn Daniel M. O’Neil Dan Ramsey T.J. Riley Michael F. Ross Denise Slack Clark A. Smith Dabney Smith, Jr. Kelly A. Smith Daniel Somers Michael L. Somers Adriane Stachmus Rebecca Stewart Joe L. Strunk Ryan Teubner VIP Insurance Agency Bill Wetzel
2014 InsurPac Investors
InsurPac is IIABA’s political action committee. It pools the voluntary and individual financial contributions of thousands of independent insurance agents to help elect candidates to Congress who share IIABA’s business philosophies. InsurPac is the largest property-casualty insurance industry PAC in the country. John Battaliou Nanette Bramlett Robert Bramlett Paul Thomas Caraway Kent Carlin Mark Carlin Michael Cottom James H. Couch Hal M. Curry Gerald Dawkins Malinda Day John E. Dillingham Jennifer E. Dotter James Duncan Karen S. Dunn David Eaton Philip D. Eitzen
Diane (Brenda) Ferrell Ben Gorrell, Jr. Vaughn Graham Vaughn Graham, Jr. Raymond M. Hale, lll Robert W. Hess Gary Jarmon Denise Johnson Larry Johnson Kasey Jones Gerald Keeton Thad Leonard Edward J. McGrath Mark McPherson Jon L. Moon Larry D. Neal Heidi Nease-Walker
Tiffani L. Nunn Kathy Reeser T.J. Riley Michael F. Ross Jane Seals Denise Slack Clark A. Smith Kelly A. Smith William Smith Daniel Somers Michael L. Somers Adriane Stachmus Joe L. Strunk Ryan Teubner Bill Wetzel Bailey L. Word
Contributors as of 4/30/14
Is your name not on the list? Use the contributor’s statement on the back of this page to donate.
POLICY Summer 2014
Our Years Together In the more than 16 years we have worked together on behalf of all Oklahoma insureds, ourselves as insurance professionals and the industry of which we are so proud, we have accomplished much. I want to leave expressing my gratitude for your help and support along a path that has not always been smooth.
Dan Ramsey, CIC
ow! It hardly seems possible that my tenure with IIAO is about to come to a close. Thanks to each and every one of you for making my time at the helm such a great honor, privilege and pleasure. In my final Extra column, I thought I would share with you some of the highlights that I can recall over the past 16-plus years.
PRESIDENT/ CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
Perhaps this is the most visible and IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey — along with Tony Caldwell, Denise Johnson, Jed obvious of our achievements during Dillingham, Mike Ross, Vaughn Graham, Bill Wetzel and several Greater OKC Chammy time here. It is such a marvelous ber members — cuts the ribbon in 2009 on one of his proudest achievements, the facility. I will miss coming to this great new IIAO building. building, working with an incredible to our boardroom to them. Those names carried over to the team and looking out my window each new building, and we are so thankful to them and the other day. The IIAO team did such a splendid job of providing names on the wall that made it all possible. I took a quick their input; the leadership and support of the IIAO board look at our financials as of the 1999 fiscal year-end and of directors was outstanding; and the finished product is compared to our financials today. The total equity for all one that IIAO members, associate members and employees of our entities (IIAO, IIAO Service Corporation, Insurance will be proud of for many years to come. It was a miracle Plan Services and the IIAO Insurance Foundation) in 1999 and is deserving of its own story. was $158,472. As of March 31, 2014, that number is now $2,243,540. We have struggled at times, but because of the Financials great voluntary leadership from our boards over the years Those who have not made this entire journey with us may and a dedicated staff, we have come far. Cindy Munden and find it hard to imagine the financial condition of IIAO as it Malinda Day have been here through it all. I appreciate all was when I came aboard in September 1998. A great credit our employees so very much, but I have a special place for our much more positive financial status goes to the chalin my heart for both of them. Susan Titus, who served this lenge Bruce Magill issued at an annual planning meeting organization more years than I did, merits placement right that we needed to “burn our mortgage” to be out of debt. At beside these other two dedicated employees. the time, we owed around $250,000 and we made a run at collecting enough to retire that debt. We got about halfway to Malinda Day’s hiring our goal. As a result of some creative thinking at an annual One of the first orders of business was to find a person conference in Tulsa, we tried again with the idea of naming who could keep our records straight. In November, I hired rights for our conference center to raise the balance. We isMalinda, and what a great hire it was. She is a remarkable sued a challenge to our companies. Jack Brunson, president individual and was the perfect person for the job. At the of National Security, based in Alabama, called me to say he same time, we hired a new accounting firm. That led to thought his company would be interested. I explained the the discovery that the records were a mess. It took months program to Jack, and he agreed to contribute $25,000. We for Malinda and the CPA firm to get them back in order. were almost there but still a little short. Jim Pierce at MidSince then, we have endured two IRS audits and numerous Continent said it would like to help reach the goal, which Continued on Page 6 required about another $25,000, so we gave naming rights
POLICY Summer 2014
Continued from Page 5 other challenges along the way, but I have never questioned whether our numbers were correct. Once Malinda came aboard, the answer to that was always a resounding “Yes.”
100th anniversary celebration
In 2007, IIAO celebrated its centennial anniversary with a huge party at the newly remodeled Skirvin Hilton in Oklahoma City. More than 700 people attended the event that the IIAO staff spent a year designing and promoting with much creativity. Christmas tree ornaments, agency visits by Fred Barker and other strategies were used to get the word out and generate a big crowd. We had a mock burning of our mortgage as one of the highlights of the party.
We were struggling with attendance at our annual convention. We were down to around 150 attendees. A board member suggested that perhaps we should consider not having a convention any more. Since our by-laws require an annual meeting, we decided instead to redesign the
Save the Date Retirement Reception for Dan Ramsey August 7, 2014 Oklahoma City
Invitation to follow 6
POLICY Summer 2014
format and brand the annual gathering as Hypopanty. Since that change, we have consistently had more than 700 people each year. Kairos, the new brand for the former small and rural agents conference, is quickly establishing its own importance with our members as a different networking experience.
IIAO has experienced tremendous success at the state Capitol during the past 15 years. Lawsuit reform and workers’ compensation reform are at the top of the list, but we have also seen success in the simplification in uninsured motorist and passage of a state question that has saved agencies and carriers a great number of tax dollars by eliminating taxation of intangible assets. IIAO has established itself as one of the primary sources legislators go to for information and advice on insurance legislation.
Susan Titus’ health challenges
Not all highlights are happy ones, at least on the surface. My
IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey and Susan Titus sit with board and staff members, all part of Team Susan, formed after Susan’s cancer diagnosis.
chapter of the IIAO story would not be complete without mention of the devastating news of Susan’s illness in fall 2012. I had visions that she would be sitting in this leadership chair some day, but that wasn’t meant to be. The IIAO family came together in a massive show of support through kind words, prayers and other means of support both small and large to show our love for her. Her quarterly reports of remaining cancer-free are the best news we receive. We miss her talent and her presence every day. And I must also say that as part of this highlight, I am grateful and awed at how the IIAO staff has taken up the slack, especially Cathy Cinotto. Cathy was rather new at the time Susan left, but she has picked up the load for communications and events in a manner that has been quite remarkable. Without prior experience in many areas of responsibility assigned to her, Cathy has quickly become a seasoned professional and a valued colleague. She is a person upon whom I can always depend.
What’s the to ease that empty feeling?
Bob Bramlett’s election
IIAO has demonstrated its talent and ability to shape the national dialogue on the IIABA stage many times. In 2012, Bob became the third IIAO member — Dick Teubner and Courtney Wood preceded him — to become the chairman/president of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America. Bob has been a tremendous help and friend to me over the years. He has certainly made us proud of him and the leadership he has provided on a national level.
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Vaughn Graham’s election
It isn’t often that a state has two agents serving on the IIABA Executive Committee at the same time, but Oklahoma does. Vaughn’s election to the at-large position of the IIABA Executive Committee puts him in position to be Oklahoma’s fourth national leader. Vaughn has been a great friend and outstanding leader over the years. We wish him the very best as he proceeds up the succession ladder of national leadership.
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In 2007, IIAO approached Insurance Commissioner Continued on Page 8 POLICY Summer 2014
Continued from Page 7 Carroll Fisher about the possibility of assuming the administration of the Oklahoma Market Assistance Program. He agreed to recommend us for consideration, and we were hired to do that job. It has been a great success because, in large part, of the professional efforts of our Ramona Townsend and Cindy Munden, the latter of whom has been the program administrator for the past three years. She, too, is an amazing individual who never shies away from a task. Cindy possesses a tremendous work ethic and fits in perfectly with the rest of the IIAO team.
Loss of revenue for marketing OSSBA School Insurance Program
About six months after coming aboard, I received a letter informing me that the marketing agreement IIAO had on the OSSBA program was being terminated. This was a major blow as it was already quite apparent to me that IIAO was facing some serious financial challenges. Our national dues needed to be paid, and we didn’t have the money. Now I was being informed that one of our major sources of revenue — about $125,000 a year — was ending. It
POLICY Summer 2014
was only a week or so later, however, that I opened another letter from our E&O carrier that contained a contingency check almost equivalent to what we owed for our national dues. This bought us needed time to continue to initiate and implement cost-saving measures and increase our income to prevent the likelihood of future vulnerabilities and shortfalls. IIAO staff and board members really stepped up to recommend strategies and accept the necessary changes. As a result, IIAO today has established a reserve fund of six months’ operating income to deal with any possible future crisis.
Education and technology
The past several years have been focused on communication, communication and communication. Delivering our message and our products in a manner that reaches a diverse membership is one of the greatest current and ongoing challenges. Susie Current and Cathy Cinotto have been champions in changing our message and delivering it through regular channels and new social media. Are we there yet? No. Have we made remarkable progress in a
relatively short period of time? Absolutely. And we aren’t finished. This will continue to be a major focus for Denise Johnson as she assumes the IIAO helm. Not only are we delivering our message differently, we are also bringing new online CE programs to our members. Susie and Candy Burton are going the extra mile to deliver the highest quality of education to our members through live streaming events, webinars and traditional classroom settings.
When you’re providing a product to more than 80 percent of your membership on a consistent basis, you must be doing something right. Lyra Roberts is truly a special individual who came to us with no prior insurance experience. She has become one of the finest in the business. She manages and administers this critical program that has become one of our primary revenue sources for the past 10 years. The program has grown because of the professionalism she brings to the table every day. These are challenging times as more and more companies jump in and jump out, which often adds confusion to the marketplace. Our program has remained
steady, stable and growing because of Lyra’s leadership and service-focused standard of excellence.
Jami Longacre, John Cox and The McCarville Report
Tony Caldwell once sent a PAC letter to our members telling them we were irrelevant. It may have hurt, but he was right. So far as the political scene was concerned, IIAO was irrelevant. We did several things to turn our ship around: First, we contracted with Jami to be our lobbyist on the day-to-day events at the state Capitol. She is a star. Second, we contracted with John to help us develop a public relations campaign. It has been remarkable for me to see IIAO become the go-to resource for insurance information with elected officials and the media. Third, we have had a banner headline ad on the front page of The McCarville Report online for the past five or six years. The website has become one of the primary sources of political news in Oklahoma. It has been a tremendous spot on which to promote the Trusted Choice brand as well as to create a high-profile awareness of independent agents.
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POLICY Summer 2014
E&O Charted All E&O cases are far too complex to reduce to a series of lists in a chart, but this overview highlights the key concepts upon which we should focus to understand E&O, prevent litigation if possible and deal with issues when necessary. This chart points you toward the knowledge you need. Tom Cooper Pignato, Cooper, Kolker & Roberson, P.C.
n E&O insurer asked me recently to put together a random sampling of case studies in which I discuss, in general terms, some of the common traits of litigated E&O claims. After 15 years of representing Oklahoma agents in hundreds of cases, it was not easy to choose just three. In fact, those I discuss in the following chart do not necessarily represent the best
or worst. Rather, they are some of the more recent cases, and they all involved significant settlements or, at least, significant defense costs. In the next article I will present a similar chart, but instead will discuss the common traits of cases that had a happy ending. Until then, stay out of trouble.
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POLICY Summer 2014
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Case Study 1
Case Study 2
Case Study 3
Position of person at agency
Personal or commercial lines
Type of coverage
Procedural or knowledge-based error
Both (see Summary of Claim, below)
Procedural (see Summary of Claim, below)
Both (see Summary of Claim, below)
Line of coverage
Settlement or Trial
Description of alleged error
Customer alleged that producer should have known more about how customer’s business operated and should have recommended purchasing employee dishonesty coverage
Settlement Producer promised, in his introductory correspondence to the customer, to be the customer’s “personal risk manager”
Do not promise, or otherwise represent, that you will advise the Tip to avoid claim customer or will serve as a “risk manager.” Otherwise, producer is taking on more than the law requires.
Successful commercial agency hired as a producer a person who formerly served as a risk manager for a large company. No one bothered to tell the new producer that, under normal circumstances, producers do not serve as risk managers. So, from management’s position, error was procedural (management knew better). From new producer’s position, error was knowledge-based (he had not yet learned the applicable, and limited, standard of care).
Customer alleged that agency should have followed up to ensure that policy change request regarding change to named insured was properly made Trial against both insurer and agency. Large verdict against insurer. Nominal verdict against agency. Agency failed to catch error by insurer relating to named insured
Do not assume insurer is going to properly process endorsements or other post-procurement activities. And if there is a purported procedure in place at the agency for double-checking endorsements, make certain that the CSR doing the work is properly trained. Insured requested a minor change to commercial auto policy and sent policy change request form to insurer. Insurer not only made the change that was requested, but went a step further and amended named insured in a way that significantly narrowed coverage. Agency failed to catch the insurer’s error, notwithstanding having a procedure for checking endorsements. Agency was forced to admit in deposition that insurer’s error was obvious and should have been noticed.
Non-customer alleged that it relied to its detriment on certificate of coverage issued/created by agency and sent to non-customer
Settlement Agency issued erroneous certificate of coverage to non-customer pertaining to coverage for certain mobile equipment Make certain CSRs understand significance of certificates of coverage, as well as significance of dealing directly with third parties (non-customers), to whom agency typically owes no duty of care. Erroneous information given to a non-customer can create exposure for the agency where it otherwise would not exist. As courtesy to customer, agency began dealing directly with vendors of the customer, who needed certificates of coverage. One vendor was rather pushy with the (new) CSR, who issued a certificate of coverage in favor of the vendor without clearing it with anyone else at the agency. The certificate was wrong (represented there was coverage for certain equipment when that was not the case). Non-customer sued agency after uncovered loss.
POLICY Summer 2014
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e have heard the demand: You want specialized topics, and you want them brought to you. You don’t want to travel all over fighting traffic to get your education. Video webinars are the solution. We currently have 32 topics on our video webinar calendar, and that content will grow to be more than 60 courses approved for CE by the end of 2014. This calendar is growing not only in size, but also in popularity. Our impressive array of courses can all be taken in the convenience of your office, thus saving time and money and allowing you more time to focus on what you do best: selling and supporting insurance. The network through which these webinars are offered has grown to include 36 participating Big “I” states that together offer a wealth of industry experts for the speaker pool. Members benefit greatly from the national platform approach. The set-up of the page offers viewers an engaging educational opportunity. Users receive live, streaming video feed of the event, as well as useful Powerpoint presentations and other supporting materials and real-time interactivity with the network’s expert instructors. The network provides simple e-commerce in addition to excellent customer service and technical help-desk staff members who make the course experience a breeze even for the Internet inexperienced. No testing is required. In fact, the first thing I tell people about these courses is there is no test. I wish I could shout that from the rooftop. The system verifies your attendance with letters that pop up on the screen throughout the presentation; you plug those letters in at the conclusion of the program. Some of the general topics we have on our calendar include commercial lines, ethics, professional development, agency management, errors and omissions and personal lines. These topics vary from basic courses to advanced. Some of the specialty topics include data privacy, certificates of insurance, building codes, business income, property leases, indemnity agreements and many more. This is by far the best place to go to get education on the specialty topics you need to help your business.
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POLICY Summer 2014
Mentor and Guide If one of the key roles of a mentor is to inspire the individual he is guiding to aspire, Dan Ramsey ranks as a top level mentor. His trajectory from chairman of the Young Agents Committee to president/CEO of IIAO offers not only a goal to head toward but, by his sterling example, a map to use on that journey.
Daniel Oâ€™Neil Oklahoma Agents Alliance OKC CHAIR, YOUNG AGENTS COMMITTEE
â€™m sure we all know someone in our professional world whom we can always go to for advice and direction, someone who, no matter how busy, always takes the time to help. That is what you get with Dan Ramsey. Early in his career, Dan served as chairman of the Young Agents. When I first shook his hand, he was the president/CEO of IIAO. For as long as Iâ€™ve known him, he has been a shaping influence on the independent insurance industry in Oklahoma. As one of his most important contributions, he is the driving force behind the political push for the independent agent and the customers we represent. Dan always has a smile on his face and seems to know practically everyone in every room. On my first trip to the Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C., I felt a bit overwhelmed. We were there to meet all of the Oklahoma congressmen so that we could discuss the issues related pageto ad:Layout 1 let 7/24/2009 AM about Page 1 insurance and them know11:14 our views what we
needed them to fight for. I was in a bit of a panic because Iâ€™d never been to the national capital, let alone voiced my opinions on our issues to someone who could make a difference. Dan made that look like a walk in the park. He had all the issues at hand, ready for me â€” and anyone else who wanted to show support. He walked into every office with confidence and proceeded to discuss and explain what mattered to us with a high degree of professionalism. In about five minutes we â€” and by that I mean Danâ€” were discussing the issues important to us and letting the congressman know why they were important and explaining what we wanted from him. We â€” and, again, by that I mean Dan â€” would chat for a bit, get a laugh or two and then, as comfortable as if heâ€™d grown up with each of these congressman, Dan would ask for his support on our issues and thank him for all he did for us. When we shook hands as we headed out, we left
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An avid, talented golfer, Dan Ramsey (far right), is shown here with fellow golfers Bill Frampton, Bill Scheunemann and Jeff Westphalen. Ramsey often played a round in support of the Young Agents Tournament. This photograph is from the 2010 event.
feeling as though we were leaving friends. What had I been worried about? We had Ramsey. The man who started as chairman of Young Agents and ended as president/CEO of IIAO has been a blessing for the insurance industry in too many ways to list. I’m proud to sayxthat I’ve worked with him and learned from him, and 7.5 4.625 I know I will continue to seek his advice and leadership jgs_brightfuture_7.4x4.625v1 as long as he allows me to do so. June 2011 Dan has always supported the Young Agents in all ways, but he has been especially invested in and present at our
annual golf tournament year after year. We hope this year is no different: In fact, we expect to see Dan at Coffee Creek in October. If you have not been to our Young Agents golf tournament, I suggest you sign up this year. The tournament is a great event at which you will meet many people in the industry. And you can take that opportunity to tell Dan thanks for all he has done, not just for IIAO, the Big “I” and the Young Agents, but for the independent insurance industry as a whole.
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Union Standard is committed to working with young independent agents because they are the future of our business. That’s why we are partnering for success with Oklahoma’s Young Agents. Union Standard recognizes the need to foster the growth of new talent to perpetuate the Independent Agency System as well as provide young agents a competitive advantage. Bob Sullivan Chad Patzke Chris Webb Clayton Howell Cody McNeil Daren Wilson Jason Blair Jarred Lowery John Rogers Kelly James Kreta Powell Lena Sullivan Lindsay Neal Michael Towe Rocky Moore Russell Hollingsworth Vaughn Graham Jr.
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Young Agent Spotlight
Cody McNeill The Insurance Agency of Mid-America Edmond
ody McNeill has been with The Insurance Agency of Mid-America, which his father, Mike McNeill, started in 1984, for nine years. The agency handles all insurance needs, both personal and commercial but focuses on service in the construction industry and contractor bonds. Of its commercial lines, 80 percent are construction driven. It bonds and insures more than $450 million in construction projects annually. McNeill lives with his wife, Kelly, and their two sons in Edmond.
As the latest in our list of young agents Union Standard selects as representing the best, what do you see as your strengths? Let’s jump right in. What’s most impressive about you, Cody? Impressive about me? I don’t know exactly how to answer that. I am good at what I do, I think. But I can’t take all the credit for that. I’m blessed with having a good, strong group of people around me and with coming from a family with insurance in its blood. Dad became a surety bond underwriter immediately after he graduated, and he started the agency in 1984. I had the best role model possible. I try to really appreciate the money my customers are spending. We’re not the cheapest, and I don’t want to be, but I have a healthy respect for the cost to the client, whether he or she is spending $1,000 or $100,000. I want to offer good value for those dollars. I also understand the company point of view: Everyone is in business to make money. I think I’m pretty good at having the difficult conversations with clients. Sometimes, you have to say, “You don’t qualify financially.” Getting the contactor and bond company on the same page is often an exciting challenge. But sometimes it’s how you frame things. I’m pretty good at that, I think.
about that same time, I felt I had gone just about as far as I could go where I was. I was traveling all the time, and that had gotten old. We decided the time was right, and I just skipped the company beginning and came into the agency in 2005. But there was never any pressure. Dad has always been an advocate of my having my own career path. I’m 38, and dad is 65, so we talk about continuity plans, of course. He loves what he does and wants to do it as long as possible. He talks about the days when he was an underwriter and saw the agency principals without a role but kind of hidden in the corner. He says he doesn’t want that to happen. He wants a purposeful transition path, but he still loves what he does.
Was an insurance career preordained for you, given the family history? Yes, but I didn’t go to work immediately in the agency. We had always talked about the plan as my starting on the company side for training. My degree was in finance, and I got a very good offer from a consulting firm that promised a lot of travel both in the U.S. and internationally. Dad and I agreed I should do that for a year and then shift into the plan. In the blink of an eye, one year had turned into five. Dad turned 55, and
And you love what you do, as well, I’m assuming? I do. I spend most of my time on bonds, and that’s an interesting field I’m good at. Our focus is construction, and it takes a lot of work to keep your arms around what your client is doing. It’s a seven-day-a-week job, but I can’t think of a better career. My wife and I joke around about what we would do if we won the lottery, and I honestly think I would continue doing what I do. I love the insurance side as well. Day one, dad asked me which I wanted to focus on first. I knew my way around a financial statement, so I went with bonds. Now, I really enjoy the complexity of the insurance side. I became a coverage nerd. I really enjoy reading the policies and trying to understand all of what they are. I like that constant challenge to learn more and know more and be better at what I do.
Why is it such a tough sell to get young people into a career you find
That’s frustrating. We don’t do a good job of advertising and promoting, I guess. I think a lot of college students have the stereotypes about the high-pressure sales type of guy. The industry doesn’t do a good job of explaining how much more than sales this profession entails and the many different types of jobs within the industry. I graduated from OSU, and none Continued on Page 18 POLICY Summer 2014
Continued from Page 17 of my advisers ever said, “Have you ever considered a career in insurance?” We’ve hired four agents under 40 in the last four years, and three of them are just at 30. They’re all having a lot of success.
Are there any drawbacks of the profession?
I don’t see it as a drawback, but balancing work and family is a challenge. Contractors really do work 24/7. They aren’t caught up with paperwork until 8 p.m., so I can easily get cell phone calls at that time. And my wife, Kelly, is a stay-at-home mom. She talks to a 2-year-old, Barrett, and a 6-year-old, Hayes, all day. She wants adult conversation, and I want silence. We negotiate that, and I try to get Kelly involved in my world. She knows my clients and attends activities in both insurance and construction. Understanding my clients and colleagues as friends helps her accommodate the sometimes late night or weekend calls.
Are you active in IIAO?
I’m on the IIAO Service Corporation Board of Directors, and I’m involved in a couple construction organizations. I’m a big believer in the importance of giving back to your industry. My grandfather was in oil field construction, and, as I said, dad has always been in insurance. Everything I have in life is from insurance and construction, and I am grateful for that.
What kinds of changes have you seen in the industry since you began in it? When I first started, I thought I would never text with a client. Never. But now my clients are communicating more and more via text. That raises some interesting
questions about documentation and record keeping. I prefer phone calls to listen to the tone of voice and understand context better. Even email can easily lead to a potential miscommunication. And the other aspect of the newer communication technologies is the expectation of instantaneous response. Hourly and daily turnarounds are the expectations now. Technology is great, and I’d put myself in the early adopter category, but it’s a love/hate thing.
Given your focus on construction and the reality of the insurance industry, you must work in a pretty male-dominated world. That’s changing slowly, but it is changing. Construction might really be ahead in that area. I represent several women-owned businesses. One of my largest company clients is a woman who owns 100 percent of the company. And I’m seeing more women as construction managers. Denise as IIAO’s first woman CEO is a great step. Younger women can see the role model more easily and, maybe, think about this profession.
Any final words?
Yes, of gratitude. I have good relationships with lots of carriers, and I’m grateful to them for all they do. I’m especially grateful to Union Standard and the Heavy Hitter Program. The size of the investment into a new generation of producers is impressive. Union Standard is focusing on developing the individual. And I also owe gratitude to those account managers and CSRs who often go underappreciated. I’ve learned so much from both younger and older agents, and Dan Ramsey has always gone out of his way to guide me. I wish him the best of luck in his retirement.
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Shining Example The chorus of admirers singing Dan Ramsey’s praises as he moves on to the next stage of his life is loud and clear; I add my voice to that harmonious blend. Dan’s success as president/CEO is the model I follow. I will bring my own style and approach to the position, of course, but those are shaped in part by Dan. Denise Johnson CIC ECI Insurance Piedmont STATE DIRECTOR
heard a saying once asserting that “all great things are preceded by chaos.” I completely understand what the wise man or woman who said that meant. My head is spinning as I realize I am writing my last article as your state director and heading into a new phase of my life. My perspective is now different — I see the importance of our association in a very different way than ever before. All the national-level projects I’ve worked on as state director are just as important and vital, but IIAO is now my focus. Project CAP is growing weekly. Forty states are up and running with the comparative rating program. We are also adding companies that want to be part of the grand marketing program. By the end of April more than 100,000 individuals had visited trustedchoice.com, the ninth record-breaking month in a row. Currently we have almost 50 of our own members signed up. The only way
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sible to say enough nice things about him. He’s a great leader, mentor, philosopher, friend, man of the people and politician of the highest order. Conversations with him are always thought proDenise Johnson, incoming IIAO president/CEO, and Dan Ramsey, retiring from that position, voking. Above all, howtake time out with Donna Baker (far right) and Debbie Morrison (far left) during the 2009 grand ever, Dan is a man of opening of the new IIAO building. character. His behavior as CEO has gone way beyond our knowledge of our products to make qualified decisions. acting as the boss. His love of our association and industry This year our issues did not seem as pressing as in years has been a great inspiration to many of us who are now past; however, we were able to have conversations about leaders. Dan made my job as state director easy; he always TRIA, agent licensing and the importance of small business had an answer, brought cohesiveness to our board and led taxation. Our Oklahoma legislators have always welcomed with assurance. Going forward, I know we can build safely us into their offices. I see our relationships continuing to and successfully upon the foundation he has built grow in the coming years. Since I know I can’t fill his shoes, I guess I’ll just buy Honestly, even with my realization that I am about new ones. to become president/CEO of IIAO, I can’t imagine our #staypatientandtrustyourjourney association without Dan Ramsey at the helm. It’s impos-
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The End of an Era Dan Ramsey leaves IIAO a much more successful and relevant organization than it was before he became its leader. His leadership in both the association and the insurance industry it serves has contributed significantly in areas of legislation, education and communication of its message to all stakeholders. John Doak
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e are reaching the end of an era, one that has seen amazing growth and opportunity thanks to the work of IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey. While we are sad to see him go, we are deeply thankful for his many contributions to the Oklahoma insurance industry. When it comes to advocating for consumer protections, the Oklahoma Insurance Department has found a like-minded organization in the Independent Insurance
IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey speaks to participants during Hypopanty. Ramsey made a practice of stopping by each booth to welcome each vendor. The annual conference will be one of Ramsey’s lasting achievements.
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Agents of Oklahoma because of Dan’s leadership. He has guided and encouraged members of IIAO to become the Trusted Choice of the consumer, a resource that would work in the consumers’ best interests to protect their families and their assets. Dan has always believed in the idea that a community of agents could best serve the insurance needs of individuals and businesses throughout Oklahoma. His strong and outspoken advocacy of the independent agent was never more evident than when he joined forces with the OID in clearly defining and sustaining the role of licensed agents under the health care reform implementation. He leaves behind a proud tradition of delivering on IIAO’s value proposition of caring for consumers by promoting agent professionalism and education. Hypopanty is another lasting legacy. The annual conference brings together independent agency owners, producers and other stakeholders to give them a chance to meet, share their expertise and improve industry standards. By attending Hypopanty, independent agents are better educated and better prepared to help consumers. In addition to his work with the association, I am also grateful to Dan for his work as executive director of the Oklahoma Market Assistance Program and plan manager of the Oklahoma Automobile Insurance Plan. Through Dan’s hard work and dedication, Oklahomans in difficult circumstances have been able to purchase the home and auto insurance they desperately need. What many people may not know about Dan is that he is always thinking of others first. Be it the consumer or the agents he leads, he proactively addresses issues and surmounts obstacles, many times before anyone else knows they’re even there. Because of that dedication, the consumer is better served and the agent is able to do his or her job more effectively. Dan has been an amazing leader, mentor and industry trailblazer. His countless efforts over the last 16 years have been instrumental to the independent agency system. Dan has dedicated his life to serving others, and he is a true Oklahoma legend. I wish him the happiest of retirements.
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Challenge Cup winner 2013
The player of the year honor goes, once again, to Larry Johnson, Universal Insurance, who shot an amazing one-overpar 73 (net 65) to win the Challenge Cup for the third time. Dan Ramsey finished in second place with a net score of 70 (85-15). “I know I speak for all our members when I congratulate Larry for a pretty impressive threepeat,” IIAO President/CEO Ramsey said. “It’s always nice to win, but when you’re beaten by someone at his level, it doesn’t sting quite so much.” The tour championship for 2013 was held at Twin Hills Country Club April 15, later than planned because of another rain delay. Eleven of the top 12 point leaders for the year participated in what turned out to be a splendid weather day.
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Dan Ramsey, right, presents the Challenge Cup 2013 trophy to Larry Johnson, Universal Insurance Agency, Edmond. This is the third time Larry has won the series.
Bernie Zalaznik retires from EMC in Kansas; Akin steps in
Bernie Zalaznik began working for EMC Insurance 27 years ago. Under his leadership, as vice president and branch manager, the Wichita branch became EMC’s largest in the country. Zalaznik retired from the company Dec. 31, 2013, passing the torch to the company’s new vice president and branch manager, Michael Akin. Akin, who has worked in underwriting, marketing and management with other insurance companies, is new to EMC and new to Kansas. “IIAO wishes Bernie all the best during his retirement and sends a warm welcome to Michael,” IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey said.
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NEWSMAKERS Allen Bumgardner, with the Universal Insurance Agency in Edmond, and his wife, Sharon, recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Both attended the University of Oklahoma, where Allen played football until injuring his knee as a junior. Allen and Sharon married in 1964 when he was a junior and she was a sophomore. After Allen’s graduation, they lived in New York, Chicago and San Francisco before returning to Oklahoma. The Bumgardners have two children, Bart and Nichole.
IIABA / Trusted Choice has chosen Make-A-Wish as its national charity. The Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma has participated in events the past two years to help raise money for Make-A-Wish. This year, it fielded a team of Gregg Jones (pictured, at left), Pat Mandeville (pictured, at right) Kirk Bailey and Rob Hess to play in an event at the Golf Club of Oklahoma in Tulsa. Also in the photograph is Katie Goss, an ambassador for Make-A-Wish who was granted her wish to visit Hawaii two years ago. “It is very heartwarming to know that independent insurance agents are helping wishes come true for young people who are facing serious life and health issues on a daily basis,” IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey said.
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TOP: Pistol Pete appeared at the 2014 FFA Convention. IIAO is a sponsor each year of the convention. “We appreciate our members who volunteer their time and visit with students at the Trusted Choice/IIAO booth during the two-day career show,” IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey said. “We love having Pete come out to take photos.” Pictured are IIAO members Janna Story, CNA, Oklahoma City; Heidi Nease-Walker, Nease Insurance Agency, Okeene; Pistol Pete; Carol Edwards, Union Standard, Oklahoma City; Kelly Smith, JWB Insurance, Holdenville; and Ken Carpenter, Carpenter Insurance Agency, Stroud. Additional members who worked the booth are: Phil Eitzen, Eitzen Agency, Fairview; Guy Landes, Louis Blosch Agency, Tulsa; Darren Perry, Darren Perry Agency, Muskogee; Fred Barker, IPFS, Oklahoma City; and Denise Johnson, ECI Insurance, Piedmont. MIDDLE: Darren Perry, Owner, Darren Perry Agency, Muskogee, and Fred Barker, Marketing Rep, Imperial PFS, help students with their door prize entries at the 2014 FFA Convention. BOTTOM: Phil Eitzen, Eitzen Agency, and Guy Landes, Louis Blosch Agency, kicked off the FFA Career Show by posing in front of one of the new Trusted Choice Freedom Campaign ads displayed in the Trusted Choice/IIAO booth.
POLICY S ummer 2014
NEWSMAKERS IIAO Chairman David Eaton, owner of Advantage Insurance Group, El Reno, presents a plaque to David Dutton, vice president and commercial lines producer with INSURICA in Oklahoma City, in appreciation of his four years of service on the IIAO Service Corporation Board.
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IIAO’s contingent to Washington, D.C., for the 2014 Legislative Conference April 9-11 met to discuss issues of importance to the insurance industry with Oklahoma congressmen. Pictured in front of the nation’s Capitol are (front row) Vaughn Graham, Rich and Cartmill, Tulsa; Candace Graham; Heidi NeaseWalker, Nease Insurance Agency; David Eaton, Advantage Insurance Group; Denise Johnson, ECI Insurance; Dan Ramsey, IIAO. Back row: Phil Eitzen, Eitzen Agency; Dora Lee Sullins, INSURICA; Chris Webb, Rich & Cartmill, OKC; Mark Carlin, Cole, Paine & Carlin; Kent Carlin, IIA of Oklahoma City; Daniel O’Neil, Oklahoma Agents Alliance; Ed McGrath, Wilcox & McGrath, OKC; Jason Green, The Insurance Center Agency.
IN BRIEF Download the Independent Agent magazine iPad app Members can download the IA magazine app from the iTunes store. Find it by searching for any variation of “IA magazine.” The tablet version offers several extra features not available in the print edition. You will find live links to related resources throughout each issue. Take advantage of new DocuSign materials Trusted Choice members have access to DocuSign, an electronic signature program designed to help agencies be more successful. DocuSign is the most widely used e-signature solution in the insurance industry and delivers real value to agents and brokers. DocuSign eliminates not-in-good-order documents, reduces costs, provides improved customer ser-
vice and helps reduce E&O exposure. Find information on this program at iiaba.com under non-insurance programs. You can access a tutorial video on the DocuSign YouTube channel. Call DocuSign support with any questions or concerns at 866.219.4318. IIAO on social media IIAO is using social media as another means of communication with our members. Remember to like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+, LinkedIn and Twitter. Then let us know what social media sites your agency is on so we can follow you. Email Susie Current at email@example.com or call 405.840.4426 to let her know what social media sites we will find you on.
POLICY Summer 2014
Dan Ramsey 16 Achievement-Packed Years Kathryn Jenson White | managing editor
In your final Extra column, you focus on the highlights of your more than 16 years leading the association. Among them are some important achievements in terms of the building, the financial security of the association, legislative gains, etc. Who are those you would point to as the human highlights in your career, people who have helped shape you most profoundly? Many people have influenced and shaped me in many ways, of course. I talk in my column about the staff and some others, but I would name four men who became part of my life before I took this position as central to my professional, and to a great degree, personal development. Ben Claiborne first asked me to be on the IIAO board, so he started me on the path to association leadership. Ben was a leader of the deepest integrity, and he carried himself with dignity and grace. He was an Altus agent when the then-director of the association ran off with all the money. Ben stepped in and worked hard to get the association back on solid footing. Charlie Simone was another dear friend and superb leader. He was funny and honest and, perhaps, the most genuine man I have ever known. Dick Teubner is
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revered for his talent and his forward thinking. He has a brilliant mind. And, finally, Courtney Wood, the smartest person about insurance any of us could or will ever know. His knowledge was encyclopedic, and his understanding was deep. Those were the top four in forming my bond with this organization. They were my role models, and they continue to represent all that is the finest in our profession and beyond.
Personal relationships within the professional context have always been at the top of your value list, haven’t they? Yes. And I see so much demand for and pressure on sales and productivity in the world today — and not just in insurance — that we might be in danger of losing the opportunities to forge those human connections. We seemed in the beginnings of my career to have more time to relate and talk and spend time in the moment we were in. Now, we’re talking on the phone, texting and sitting together all at the same time. One of my hopes for young agents starting to build their careers is that they get to Continued on Page 32
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salute to dan ramsey
Continued from Page 30 that place of knowing how important it is to focus energy and attention on creating those relationships. I know the workplace culture and the industry are changing, and many good new elements are emerging. But I also know the value of those relationships to me, and I wish them for those who are following us and taking the association and industry into the future.
Dan Ramsey participates in one more IIAO staff photo before his retirement on Sept 1. From left, Cindy Munden, Susie Current, Cathy Cinotto, Dan Ramsey, Candy Burton, Lyra Roberts and Malinda Day.
From the staff Dan, we want to thank you for the years you have been our boss and for each and every way you have allowed us to put our individual strengths to the best use for the association. You have made this office a great place to work by encouraging us to continue learning by attending classes, seminars and conferences. Your leadership contributed to professional growth for each of us, building our confidence so that we could become integral parts of the association. You have encouraged us, commended us and always remembered to celebrate our special days. We are going to miss you greatly, but we want you to know that your leadership these past 16 years means that you are leaving us confident that we are capable of continuing to do our very best for the association.
Thanks for being such a wonderful boss. Cindy, Malinda, Lyra, Susie, Cathy and Candy
You have spoken often about the challenge of keeping IIAO relevant to its existing members, of engaging members in association work and of attracting new members. Do you see Denise’s primary challenge as the new president/CEO as figuring that out? Absolutely I do. We’ve talked about this issue at every board meeting for several years. It’s a challenge when you realize we have agencies of three people and agencies of 150 people. The differences in the past were not as great. Today, some agencies are so big they conclude they don’t need to strive to stay a part of the larger network of independent agents we represent. They feel they don’t really need us anymore. Some agencies think they are too small for us, with not enough time to get involved and with different challenges from those larger agencies face. We have to develop a message that explains we are, indeed, relevant to the wide range. And then we’ve got to back that up with services that support our claim. In addition, we have to get through the communication clutter to share that message. It’s funny that at the same time our communication reach has grown so much through technology that we’re also falling back on mailed postcards. Figuring out what we need to provide, determining that effective message and then finding the right means of communicating it to various generations, agency sizes, communication preferences, needs and focuses, etc., is the multifaceted challenge Denise and her team will have to meet.
I think it’s important to realize that in what you’ve just said is a key truth: You and your four friends and colleagues were all about the same type of person and in agencies of about the same size. In other words, there wasn’t a lot of difference or otherness to cope with. That’s correct. We were all in mom-and-pop agencies. All the consolidations and mergers are creating an increasingly wide range in agency size. And while we are still primarily white and male, that’s beginning to change, too. And we have to become more engaged
IIAO President/CEO Dan Ramsey and staff at IIAO’s 2007 Centennial celebration.
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with diversity so that the industry and association reflect the communities we serve. That’s why Denise is such a good choice as my successor. She’s strong and filled with good ideas. When I took this job, maybe one or two states had women leaders. Now, that number is 17 or 18. The percentage of women and minorities is still small in the profession. We have to become more diverse to serve the larger community appropriately and well. Principals in agencies will have to commit to that idea, too.
I notice that the word “community” seems to be coming up frequently. Is that a conscious choice? Yes, it is. In fact, that has become part of our re-branding. We are a community of agents, not just an association. We are more than an association. We have a wonderful new video I hope everyone watches that introduces that idea. To give credit where it is due, I saw the Iowa association’s use of the community idea and decided we could build our own concept around it because that really is what we strive to be: a coherent group working together for a common cause. When I first became involved with IIAO, it seemed possible to be both a competitor and a dedicated member of the larger insurance community. That seems harder today even inside our boardroom. We’re part of a nationwide community with 27,000 members, twice as many as State Farm or Farmers. When we look at the larger footprint IIABA represents, we dominate the field. But the key is that we are a community.
Given what I know of you and what you’ve said today, I can’t imagine you want to disconnect from this community. What are your retirement plans? I want to stay engaged with agencies but obviously on a more limited basis. Several agencies have offered me the opportunity for consulting work a few days a week, and that excites me. As long as my health continues, I will continue to enjoy working. The bittersweet aspect of my retirement from IIAO is that I know it’s the right time and the right choice, but I am not ready to withdraw. I told the board three years ago that it would be time at this point for new leadership, time for someone who could take IIAO into the future. I think that was the right call. It has been a smooth and positive transition so far. I still think I have value, however, and something left to give. Some of those agencies that grew up in my environment and are small, as I was, can learn from what I’ve learned. I can do a lot Continued on Page 34
May 1983: Dan (left) being sworn in as board member for the first time with Del Cooper, Jerry Russell and Bill Dobbs.
Financial status in 1998 When Dan became the IIAO then-president, now CEO, in September 1998, we were in deep financial trouble. Our prior executive had suddenly left to take another position, and we found that the state of things was not as it had been presented. We found, instead, bank accounts not reconciled for months, checks uncashed and bills unpaid. So, all in all, a mess. The board had been receiving audited statements from a national CPA firm with favorable opinion letters for years, but it turned out that they had not audited anything but had simply churned out the letters. We were having a near-death experience and didn’t know it. So Dan and the board went to work. Dan hired new staff and brought in a local CPA. More importantly, he brought his own integrity to the process. Staff and members got involved, and, under Dan’s leadership, IIAO is in a very strong financial position today. During his tenure, the IIAO net worth has gone from $350,000 in 1999 to nearly $2.8 million today. Dan would never claim all the credit for this. He’s had a great staff and strong boards and some good luck here and there. Aubrey McClendon and Chesapeake even pitched in, buying our old building on 50th Street for twice its appraised value. But Dan’s unwavering integrity has been the guiding principle for the way we do things and that, ultimately, has brought us to this point. Bill Livermon, Vice-President INSURICA, Oklahoma City IIAO Past President/Chairman 2005-2006
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Continued from Page 33 from home and make some in-agency visits. I’m excited about it. I know I’ll enjoy it.
Does Marilyn have a list of to-dos for you? Are you looking forward to leisure-time activities or hobbies of any sort? Marilyn’s had that list since 1967, and I think I’ve crossed off tasks down to No. 5. I need to review it. I’m sure it’s grown dramatically. I love to play golf, but I won’t be on the course every day. Maybe once a week or so and probably more for the fellowship and interaction than the game. I’ll read more, I’ sure. And I’ll fish. I enjoy the solitary nature of that activity. Of course, I’ll have more time with Marilyn, the children and the grandkids. We’ve put off travel for what seems a pretty long while. I think we’ll do some of that. I’m excited about all the possibilities and just a bit anxious. I’ve prepared us for a good retirement. I just am not ready to leave the industry I love and have invested so much of my life in.
Dan with his family in 2013. Front, daughter-in-law Natalie, Addison, Jackson, Dan, Emersyn, Brett; back, son Jason, wife Marilyn, son-in-law Joey, and daughter Michelle. 2013 may not have been Dan’s most difficult year as president of IIAO, but it certainly will be one he won’t forget. SB 1062 Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Reform turned out to be the most contentious and polarizing legislation affecting our association in the last 25 years. Under Dan’s guidance, the IIAO executive committee endorsed this controversial legislation, believing it served the public’s best interest. The personal attacks, false accusations and divisiveness that followed were offset by calls of member support, factual clarification and cohesiveness of the leadership team. Although initial indicators are positive, history will judge the 2013 workers’ comp legislation’s effectiveness of reducing rates and spurring economic development. One thing is certain: Dan’s humble servant leadership style has led this association effectively for the last 16 years. His willingness to take controversial issues head-on with integrity and unwavering principals has earned him a most desired good name. Dan has served us well. It is with great affection and honor that I say “Well done, Dan.”
Ed McGrath, CIC, CRM President Wilcox & McGrath Insurance, Oklahoma City IIAO Past President/Chairman 2012-2013
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Any major disappointments or goals you didn’t get to achieve as you
You know, I have only one significant, specific thing I wish could have been different. We weren’t perfect. We’ve made many mistakes, I’m sure, but we’ve rebounded and moved on. My only real regret is that Susan didn’t have the opportunity to serve in this position. That she is not with IIAO anymore is difficult for me. This isn’t anything about Denise. I know she will do a wonderful job. I think Susan was the right person with the right talents and abilities. We worked so closely together for so many years preparing her for that role. Obviously, what happened was beyond everyone’s control, and I know she’s happy where she is now, which is very important to me. But I do wish that could have happened.
Life doesn’t always cooperate with our plans, for sure. Other than that, though, pretty smooth sailing? Except for that first year. That first year was a challenge of the highest order. I thought, “My gosh, what have I gotten myself into? Can I get back into the Legislature?” more than once. When I first got here, frankly, it was a mess. And no one really knew how bad it was until I started digging around. We were broke and didn’t Continued on Page 36
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ome thirty-five years ago a group of Oklahoma young agents decided to put together its own organization and have its first young agents’ meeting. Members of that group asked my partner, Jack Mandeville, and me to do a two-day seminar for them. As I remember, we held the meeting at the lodge of one of our lakes; memory lets me down on which one. I think we all agreed that the meeting was a big success. What struck me, though, was meeting and getting to know two particular young agents whom I felt would be future leaders for our association. From that point on I kept my eye on them and tried to do a little behind-the-scenes work whenever I could to make sure they moved forward in the state association. They didn’t let me down, and both became outstanding presidents. Their service didn’t end there. Bobby Bramlett continued to move forward through our national association to serve as IIABA chairman last year. Dan Ramsey, the real focus of this piece, took a different leadership role by selling his agency to seek election to the state house of representatives. The good people of Grady County knew a good thing when they saw it and made him their first Republican representative since statehood. All was going well until our association suddenly needed a new, strong, professional leader. The choice was obvious, but some persuasion was in order. Finally, Dan agreed to accept the position as our leader. Nothing could have pleased me more. He went to work and soon returned our association to the level of success and effectiveness we had known with Ben Claiborne and Charley Simone. We, the association, were fortunate enough to get the perfect man when we badly need him. We owe our heartfelt thanks to Dan for all he has done for our association and for the insurance industry in Oklahoma. Dick Teubner, Owner (Retired) Rich & Cartmill, Tulsa IIAO Past President/Chairman 1970-1971
houghts of Dan lead to memories of all of the years we have spent together doing association work. For at least 23 of those years, we have traveled together to the Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. As the person in charge of arranging meetings with congressmen and planning the meals for all the Oklahomans, Dan has made every trip memorable. Any member who has attended will tell you that everything went according to schedule and that fun was had by all. It’s hard to organize 25 people for three days, but Dan always succeeded and made everyone feel relaxed. In addition to our work together on association programs, Dan is also a very close friend of Margie’s and mine. He and Marilyn have visited us twice in our home in New Mexico, and we always look forward to their visits, as they are the perfect guests and fun to be around. Dan has a contagious laugh that makes everyone smile immediately.
In the Navy
I would also like to mention that since Dan has been CEO of IIAO, the financial picture has improved significantly. His leadership qualities are outstanding; he governs firmly but pleasantly. Good luck in the future, Dan and Marilyn; it has been an honor to be both your colleague and your friend. Your humble servant, Kent Carlin Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma City, Secretary/Treasurer Cole Paine & Carlin, Owner (Retired), Oklahoma City IIAO Past President/Chairman 1988-1989
an Ramsey: agent, agency owner, board member, officer, Navy captain, state representative, lobbyist, IIAO president/CEO. During my career, dating back to 1976, I have known Dan in all of those roles. When Bob Bramlett and I were in the chairs, the IIAO executive position became open. The first person we thought of was Dan. But Dan had to finish his term as a state representative before he would come over. So we set up Courtney Wood to fill the interim position until Dan was available. Dan made an immediate impact on IIAO and on me personally. I never saw any man so organized and task oriented. Working with Dan, I learned a great deal. And as the years passed, Dan’s influence actually improved my organizational skills, although my desk continues to be somewhat sloppy. Dan always has a smile, is ready for a good laugh and exhibits a good nature. He is always on task, and he always delivers. I admire him for those qualities and will continue to hold him up as a role model as I continue to strive for improvement in all those areas. Michael Loftis, CEO Loftis & Wetzel Corporation IIAO Past President/Chairman 1999-2000 POLICY Summer 2014
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My year-and-a-half as president of IIAO began with a phone call on the day before the first workday of 1998. The call was from IIAO Executive Bruce Coates, who informed me he was resigning to go to work for our association’s E&O carrier, Employers Re (now Swiss Re). We launched a national search, but the applicants were not the quality our team felt we needed to return IIAO to the financial position in which we needed to be. Dan Ramsey was serving as a state representative after a long, successful career as a fellow agent and past president of our association. We attempted to get Dan to apply but had no luck. Courtney Wood volunteered a couple of days per week to help run the association office, and my charge to Courtney and myself was to convince Dan he was needed much more to run IIAO than to continue in the Legislature. Long story, short, Dan called me, we met and made a deal for him to become our CEO. The rest is history. Dan and his team completely turned IIAO around, and now, 16 years later, we are among the most fiscally sound and best-run state associations in the country. I and all association members owe much to Dan Ramsey for his service to IIAO. Bob Bramlett President/CEO The Bramlett Agency, Ardmore IIABA National Chairman 2012-2013 IIAO Past President/Chairman 1998-1999
History As an original member of the Young Agents Committee circa 1973, I had the pleasure to associate with many who went on to leadership roles in IIAO. A quick and unofficial count would say of that early group, six went on to be president of IIAO, one was national chairman this past year and one will be national chairman, I believe, in 2017. Dan was one of the six and, as we all know, he went on to be the president/CEO of IIAO beginning in 1998. He and Marilyn became our good friends in the mid ’70s and remain so today. We have watched our children grow up together. I remember early YAC meetings at Fountainhead Lodge at Lake Eufaula. At one of our meetings, our speakers were Jack Mandeville and Dick Teubner, two icons in our industry and amazing mentors to the young agents who were fortunate enough to attend. Dan went on to be YAC chairman and, ultimately, made his way to the president/CEO position. Dan was and is a gentleman of the highest integrity. He was and is a person who is hard working, loyal and dependable. He is the kind of man you would like for your sons to emulate. Through many of these years, Dan and I have had OSU season football tickets a few rows apart. Needless to say, we have celebrated together and, unfortunately, commiserated far too much. And it all started with us as Young Agents trying to learn this wonderful industry and put ourselves in the company of those who could help one another. Gerald W. Keeton, Agent/Owner Cole Paine & Carlin, Oklahoma City IIAO Past President/Chairman 2001-2002
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Continued from Page 34 know it. I discovered faulty audits from a national CPA firm. I opened the mail one day early on to discover that our largest revenue source, about $125,000 per year, was going away. I wasn’t sure not only of how we would rebuild, but even of how we would get through the next day. Cindy, Malinda and Susan were with me through those difficult days. To come from what we were then to what we are today is pretty impressive, and I’m proud of our achievements.
You’re had some committed and talented staff members supporting
you, I know. I love the people in this office. They have been women, for the most part, and they are all like my daughters. They have been so good at what they do and so loyal. In addition, we’ve had incredible, diverse volunteer leadership. No matter what their beliefs, they have worked together and sought common goals. I can’t name them all, of course. They’ve given and given and given. This job is so much fun because every year there’s a new boss as board leader and that’s good. The long-term goals stay the same, but those new leaders create a different approach and a framing of things in a different way
Are there things you wish for the future of the association and industry? Some final vision of an ideal future you want to communicate? Everything I value isn’t going to continue to be relevant, I know, but I hope for some things I think really matter. For example, I want designations to stay important. The CPCU is, for me, the pinnacle of designations for insurance agents. When I talked to a CPCU group the other day, no young agents were there. The CIC is a great program that provides a firm foundation, but the CPCU goes to a depth that the profession needs its practitioners to have. Only one agent was in the group; the rest were from companies. They know those credentials will help them move up the ladder. In an agency, it doesn’t seem to have the same kind of pay-off to entice the commitment to the challenge of earning that designation. The designations are important, not to the consumer, but to the agent in terms of challenging the self and keeping on top of the profession. Mandated CE doesn’t cover enough. Online doesn’t provide the same depth of knowledge as the classroom, and you miss the connections you forge there. Also, in the past, people who were managers of agencies participated in conferences and other events because they could write them off. They can’t do that as much anymore. I want for the agents of today and tomorrow to feel they belong to this community and want to participate in it. I want members to want to volunteer and for their bosses to Continued on Page 38
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ime sure sails by, at least in our joint estimation. To us, it is impossible to believe Dan has been president and chief executive officer of IIAO for 16 years. It seems like only yesterday that Dan served as a member of the House of Representatives while we were respectively a very young lobbyist and a notas-young gubernatorial press secretary. Both of us had the privilege of getting to know Dan during his time in the Legislature and came to respect him for his dedication to improving Oklahoma, his dedication to his constituents and the professional manner in which he conducted himself. Some things never change, as Dan has continued to hold himself to the highest ethical standards during his tenure at IIAO. And the members of IIAO are better off for that. Dan has led the association to new heights, not only by increasing membership, but also by offering a wide variety of innovative member programs and continuing education opportunities. He has been the most respected and revered insurance industry advocate at the state Capitol. In addition, Dan oversaw the construction of the beautiful new IIAO headquarters, a facility that has paid immense dividends to the association in just its few short years of existence. Even though Dan may be retiring on paper and he will not be an everyday fixture at IIAO headquarters, we know he will continue to advocate for the insurance industry while giving back to his hometown of Chickasha. Last but not least, we know Dan will pour himself even more into his wonderful family, including his grandchildren. While, we are sad to see Dan go, we know IIAO is in a tremendously strong position thanks to his years of dedicated service. It has been our honor and our privilege to work with him. Best wishes and many happy years ahead to a great Oklahoman. Jami Longacre IIAO Government Relations Consultant John Cox Cox Consulting Group IIAO Public Relations Consultant
him in any area. He has been a constant force of influence not only with our agency association members, but also with the Legislature, regulatory bodies and company folks who bring insurance markets to the table. Dan’s level of commitment has led to all of those who work with him having a high level of confidence, which helps all understand the issues in a most effective way. Dan is at his best in this role. I first met Dan when he was managing his own independent insurance agency in Chickasha. In spite of the fact that I have always been on the insurance company underwriting management and marketing side, Dan has always treated me with total respect, even when I knew he didn’t agree with an approach or decision. I was out of Oklahoma for 8 and a half years. When I returned, Dan was one of the first to reach out to include me in some specific areas. Through these last five years, Dan has become a good friend, fueled first by all the reasons stated in the paragraphs above and then just as a friend who is always there when you need him. I am extremely proud and honored to call Dan my friend. Fore, obviously, is a golf term. If you know Dan, you know his passion and enjoyment on the golf course. In spite of my inept abilities as compared to his, he is a great golf companion. I even had the privilege of witnessing Dan make a hole-in-one while we were in Texas a few years back; that is something I will never forget. I am a better person for having the privilege of knowing Dan and am especially honored and humbled to call him my friend. Mel Holt, CPCU, CIC Vice President / Branch Manager Union Standard Insurance Group, Oklahoma City
The five areas are faith, family, force, friend and fore. I’ve known Dan since at least the early 1980s, and, in all those years, I have never worked with anyone who shows a greater presence of faith in his life. From my perspective he lives that faith in God in every facet of his personal and business life. I have tremendous respect and admiration for Dan as truly a person of faith.
Once the decision was made to sell the IIAO building and start the process of finding a new location for our office, I got to see Dan at his best. Many, many details had to be taken care of and many, many decisions had to be made. As if he were conducting an orchestra, somehow Dan was able to keep everyone in harmony and on the same sheet of music. I always knew Dan was a great multitasker; the IIAO president/CEO position demands that. But during the months of pre-construction and throughout the construction phase, Dan was no less than a maestro. Through his leadership and hands-on involvement, all the difficult decisions were made, the expenses were kept in check and a beautiful and very functional IIAO headquarters resulted. Dan had many opportunities to succumb to the pressure, but he consistently stayed on top of the project and remained focused on producing an office in which all members of our association could take pride.
Dan sets a great example of a man totally dedicated to his family. He has always been very proud of his entire family and has always consistently exhibited that in every way, even when he is traveling away from them. From my perspective, Dan’s family is the most prized component of his life. By force, I mean influence. Dan’s consistent approach and dedication to the insurance industry make our business easier for anyone working around
The IIAO office we have today is the result of Dan’s visionary leadership. Though his humility wouldn’t allow his name to be on the building, his mark is all over it. Mike Ross, President/CEO INSURICA, Oklahoma City IIAO Past President/Chairman 2009–2010
hen I think of Dan Ramsey, five words immediately resonate with me. While each of these five words starts with the letter “F,” they are all as far from a failing grade as possible. In fact, Dan’s performance in each is, I would calculate, far greater than an A+.
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Continued from Page 36 give them time to do so. And, back to where we began this conversation: I want agents of today and tomorrow to build those friendships. The men I met in 1979 or 1980 in Young Agents have been my friends for 40 years. I want the young agents of today to have that opportunity for life-shaping relationships.
That seems as good a place as any to stop. Good luck. I know I join all those connected with IIAO in wishing you many years of healthy, happy retirement. Thank you.
Leadership Leadership takes many forms. However, what we typically think of when that word appears is a series of intentional acts like those a military officer commanding his troops would make. Dan certainly had that experience as he served his country in the Navy. However, I think that real leadership skills are situated in and demonstrated by a man or woman’s character. This defines, for me, who Dan is, not only as a leader but also as a person. Dan is the rare combination of confidence and humility. He knows what he wants to do and part of what he wants to do is to be useful to others. So he leads as a servant. But to mistake his gentle spirit as weakness would be to fail to see that strong belief, carefully considered conviction and indomitable will form his character. Dan took on the job of daily leadership of IIAO during a difficult period. But we were confident in his ability to succeed because he was confident. We were all right, but under his leadership we became more than all right in a second sense of that phrase. We made progress that none of us would have believed possible when he took the job. We became not just all right, but excellent. Though we have an excellent new president/CEO who will serve us well and shape our future success, Dan is, ultimately, irreplaceable. From any measure, it’s clear that our association is far better than it was before Dan became its leader. All of those who have had the privilege of serving as leaders with him have benefitted individually even more than the association has as a whole. I know that is true for me. Thank you, Dan, for 16 years of outstanding professional leadership of IIAO and for teaching me much along the way. Tony Caldwell, Chairman & CEO Oklahoma Agents Alliance, Oklahoma City IIAO Past President/Chairman 2007-2008
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Dan’s Impact on National Big “I” Issues I have had the unique opportunity to observe firsthand Dan’s work on national insurance issues as he represented Trusted Choice independent insurance agents and to witness his ability to bring Oklahoma perspective to those discussions. The first descriptive word that comes to mind is “Wow!” Whether participating in government affairs committee meetings during consideration of issues affecting our insurance and business livelihood or working through issues with his peers who provide professional association leadership in their own states, Dan has earned the professional and personal respect of all with whom he comes into contact. His steady, consistent, thoughtful approach to industry work has become widely recognized by governmental, regulatory and insurance industry leaders. Make no mistake. Dan’s insurance industry legacy involving Oklahoma’s IIAO members and his Oklahoma roots will continue to cast a long shadow on a national level long after he steps away from representing Oklahoma Trusted Choice independent insurance agents. Thanks, Dan, for your focus, dedication, professionalism and friendship. Vaughn Graham, CPCU, AFSB, CIC President Rich & Cartmill, Inc., Tulsa IIABA Executive Committee IIAO Past President/Chairman 2004-2005
TrustedChoice.com and Project CAP growing We signed up and published our profile at TrustedChoice.com on a Thursday and received our first prospect email the very next morning. It was a commercial account, a man needing liability coverage for a youth boxing league here in Oklahoma. We don’t know if we’ll get it, but it is very exciting to see prospects coming so quickly. — Mollett Hunter Insurance Agency, Chickasha Consumers Participating in Portal
The website for consumers to connect with independent agents, TrustedChoice.com, continues to experience record growth each month. Visits to TrustedChoice.com during April totaled 149,338, a 39 percent increase over March, representing a ninth straight record month.
Connecting you to today’s consumers. Easily. Instantly. Directly.
TrustedChoice.com is unlike any other website currently available to insurance prospects. While some may offer consumer research and rate comparisons, no other presents its unique combination of benefits. Aside from the ability to evaluate multiple insurance companies, the chance to select an independent agent who’ll advocate on their behalf is an advantage many consumers find irresistible. A basic profile on TrustedChoice.com is free and automatic for all IIABA members. Agencies enrolled in the new Advantage Program receive an expanded profile, enhanced positioning, unlimited prospects and other key benefits — all rolled into one subscription of just $39 per month. And enrollment takes just a few minutes. Plenty of IIABA member agencies and IA carriers are
signing up to participate. Since November 2013, more than 1,500 agencies had signed up for an Advantage Agency Subscription to TrustedChoice.com, along with 26 national and regional personal lines independent agent carriers.
New Programs. New Prospects. A New World of Possibilities.
In addition to TrustedChoice.com, Project CAP provides a collection of agency marketing programs. Created by some of the best companies in the country specifically for today’s insurance professionals, all of these solutions integrate perfectly with one another to help leverage the full power of the Internet — and The Power of Independents.
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TrustedChoice.com consumer website All-inclusive agency websites Search results marketing Social media services Online resource packages
Visit projectcapmarketing.com or call 855.372.0070 to learn more.
Forty-five IIAO agency members are participating in the Advantage Plan. That’s almost 10 percent of membership. Subscribe to the Advantage Plan and give your agency the best opportunity for being found by consumers — Independent Insurance Agents of Oklahoma
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IIAO MEMBERSHIP MATTERS
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