Our Customer Service is Here to Stay

Our team at California Casualty remains focused on the appreciation, motivation, and recognition of our amazing employees.

As an organization over a century old, family-owned, and steeped in tradition, we know that honoring the drive and accomplishments of our workforce makes a difference to you, to us, and especially to them.

Every employee is essential to the success of our organization. And in this Behind the Scenes, we take a look at our Customer Service Department and their efforts to continually build a strong team of insurance professionals.

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Through our Emerging Leaders program, we have identified the technical and behavioral competencies necessary to be successful in a Customer Service leadership role. We aligned these competencies with a curriculum and a tracking guide that our Team Managers use when leading development planning sessions.

This curriculum utilizes both internal resources and professional designations such as the Associate in Insurance Services designation offered by The Institutes Risk & Insurance Knowledge Group.

In 2021, we rolled out a self-paced individual study program consisting of articles, book summaries, reflection pages, and collaboration groups. The program has been well-received and continues to grow.

In the last year, we’ve been honored to watch a few of our brightest stars earn promotions within the company. Tonya Turentine and Meredith Savage were promoted to Service Team Managers, Darrah Zinn to Rating and Underwriting Systems Analyst, and Amber Ferrell and Alyson Proctor to Learning and Development Instructors.

We also have several others working through a development plan to become the next generation of Senior Customer Care Specialists.

To see more California Casualty employees celebrated for their role in our organization, please visit: https://bit.ly/3v5TCvd 

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

This Truly is a Family Business

This Truly is a Family Business

Many of our policyholders know that until recently, our company has been led by four generations of the Brown family. But the family ties do not end there. California Casualty has had a number of family members working together at our company over the years. However, not many have had the honor of sharing a 25+ Year Anniversary in marriage and at work.

Meet Lisa and Dave Pearne, a husband and wife duo that have reached this impressive milestone.

 

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Q: How long have you been with the company? Who started first? How did you BOTH join the CalCas family?

A: Lisa – 27 years; Dave – 25 years

It was my (Lisa) first job out of college.  I never thought I would be in insurance, but loved what I saw in the company and the group members they served. They were willing to take a chance on me being so new to the workforce – just out of school. I started as a sales rep in Orange, CA in our smaller branch offices. I loved the people I worked with and the company as a whole.

When they (California Casualty) decided to open a service center in Colorado, Dave and I decided to give it a try.  It was hard to leave our family but absolutely loved the outdoor life that CO had to offer. Our coworkers and friends quickly became our family here. We were newly married and thought if we didn’t like it, we could just move back to CA. That was in 1996, and we’ve been here ever since.

We love it here and it’s been an amazing place to raise a family.

Dave left his job with Conde Nast Traveler in CA to join me in CO. He was looking for a job here in CO when a Finance position opened up at CalCas, he interviewed and has been with the company ever since.

He is currently in a manager role and has an amazing team here in CO. They are small, but mighty and he feels fortunate to work with such a great team.

We both feel incredibly lucky to be here, and in the roles we are in.

 

 

Q: What are your favorite moments/important contributions to the company since you’ve been here?

A: (Lisa) Helping to start the Colorado Service Center for Sales from the ground up is my favorite contribution. My favorite part of my job is helping others aspire to be the best they can be-incredible people. I love our team, who continually look for ways to take care of our group members.

(Both) We are proud to work with a leadership team that has created high integrity, trust, and a true desire to help our group members and protect their greatest assets, being there for them in their greatest time of need.

(Lisa) A favorite moment was when I was a Sales rep 20+ years ago, I was helping a group member close on a new house and get the proper insurance. It’s exciting, but very stressful to purchase a new home.  This member had many obstacles come her way, yet we stayed close and worked together to walk her through the process.  After she closed on her home, she was so incredibly thoughtful and sent me flowers as a thank you.  It was such a special touch I needed and. I have her note at my desk to this day and to remind me of the impact we can have helping our group members.

(Dave) My most memorable contribution is now – while working with an amazing team to transition to Guidewire. There is so much involved, but getting to be part of something that will help propel our company forward is incredibly satisfying. A favorite moment was receiving the Pride in the Code award and getting to be part of solutions to help our group members while helping the company.

 

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Q: How do you manage to separate work life and family life – how do you keep the boundaries separated so you don’t think about work 24/7? 

A:  Funny, many times we do bring work home, but we can balance each other.

It takes incredible teamwork, as a married couple, to work together when both parents are working and kick in to help with whatever needs to be done. We have different seasons where one of us may be more busy and working longer hours at work, so the other one will pick up more with home life and vice versa.

We’ve always been supportive of each other’s careers while prioritizing family. We also have a lot of family support that has encouraged us in our careers and been instrumental with our kids.

We believe in work hard, play hard. We are passionate about what we do and give 100%, while valuing time away with family. We work for vacations. We have so many wonderful family memories, as the kids get older and schedules are busy, it sometimes takes work to coordinate, but family is so important and time away together is critical – it makes us better at what we do at work.

We all need time away to re-energize to be our best. California Casualty has always done an amazing job with encouraging work/life balance and we are very grateful!

 

Q: What makes “working together” (we know you have very different roles, but you still see each other in the hallways) easy, and what makes it challenging?

A: It’s great when we are working similar hours and can carpool.

Once here at work, we don’t see each other much as on different floors and busy with our own areas.  We love if we can sneak in a lunch together, but doesn’t happen very often.  It’s usually a quick conversation about what child has what and where they are.

It is great when there is an issue that has overlap in our areas, we can ask each other for further clarification to really understand the other side of things, to be able to make a more efficient decision.

 

calcas family

 

Q: And finally…what do you love about the organization and having your family proudly represent it?

We love California Casualty and are grateful for all the opportunities they have provided us and our family. Our kids have grown up with CalCas and we have lifelong friends because of CalCas.

We love what Cal Cas stands for- a company with high integrity and a passion for our group members and so proud of who we serve.

We believe in our why statement and are proud to work for a company like CalCas:  “People who commit to making a difference for our communities deserve financial protection with the highest levels of care, service, compassion, and understanding… which is why we exist.”

 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Celebrating the 2020 Partner Relations Advocate Awardees

Celebrating the 2020 Partner Relations Advocate Awardees

Each year the California Casualty Partner Relations Department recognizes employees for their commitment and dedication to serving our group partners by developing and nurturing relationships and creating leader advocates. In a year of so much uncertainty, the efforts of these individuals shined as they adapted to a virtual environment. Nominated by their fellow managers or their peers, the 2020 Partner Relations Advocate Award recipients were Angela Morgan (WA), Bonnie Harber (NJ), Brandon Watson (TX), Inez Morales (CA), Justine Sallee (IL), Michelle Hawkins (WA), Norma Alfaro (CA) and Stephanie Whitmore (CA). Read on to learn more about each award recipient and why they were nominated.

 

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With nearly six years of experience, Bonnie Harber has become a permanent fixture at events throughout her territory in New Jersey and is well respected by association staff, leadership, fellow business partners, and her colleagues. Her dynamic personality, teamwork, and dedication have generated exceptional production results and strong relationships internally and externally. 

 

 

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Michelle Hawkins’s manager noted that she is simply the best.  She completely understands advocacy and how leveraging her relationships publicly affects her field access, retention, business growth, and overall marketing plan.  It’s all intertwined and she knows exactly what she is doing.  

 

 

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Stephanie Whitmore moved at the start of the pandemic from Iowa to California. She used her tenacity and creativity to introduce herself to group leaders in her new territory while she continued to be present virtually in her previous territory of Iowa and Nebraska. It was written of her, “The great thing is about her tenacity and creativity, is that she does not keep it to herself. She constantly shares what she is doing with her teammates and department”.

 

 

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Countless hours were dedicated by Norma Alfaro to ensure her fellow California field team members staff and our partner, the California Teachers Association, had all they needed to make it through 2020 successfully. Norma was nominated from two different Partner Relations employees, with one noting, “With every challenge comes an opportunity to adapt, persevere and demonstrate one’s inner strengths.  In 2020, Norma proved that she could not only weather the storm but thrive.”

 

 

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Inez Morales’s sense of responsibility towards her customers and her groups is amazing. Although she works with all our group partners in California, Inez was specifically nominated for her work as a PORAC Back-Up Account Manager.  Inez has a gift with relationships that have helped her to keep doors open to new opportunities and the ability to quickly address policyholder and group concerns. 

 

 

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Brandon was nominated for his attitude of service and advocacy as a representative in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.  Since he started with California Casualty in 2011 he has exhibited great advocate qualities.  He cares for the members of the associations we serve and it is welcomed, respected, and appreciated by the leaders and members of these associations.

 

 

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As one of our field representatives in Illinois since 2012, Justine Sallee’s, ability to develop and maintain relationships has served her well.  She recognizes the value of service and care for the leadership and members of our partner associations.  This has enabled her to leverage these relationships to gain access, maintain visibility and generate policyholder growth in her territory.  She is a well-rounded field marketing manager and is liked and respected by her association leadership and members.

 

 

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To round out the 2020 Partner Relations Advocate Award recipient is Angela Morgan. Angela has embraced and led the way in building sustainable business practices to market throughout her territory.  She is consistent and relentlessly couples short-term and long-term wins throughout her day.  She understands the need for the immediate while teeing up future relationships and opportunities to leverage.

Congratulations to all the recipients! 

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Meet the Awardees of Our Company’s Highest Honors

Meet the Awardees of Our Company’s Highest Honors

California Casualty recognizes employees who have made a significant impact on how our organization does business as your insurance partner with two annual awards.

The Thomas R. Brown Pride in the Code Award is a tribute to Tom Brown, recognizing employees for outstanding contributions that reflect one or more of the company’s five core values drawn from the California Casualty Code: Acting with Integrity, Fulfilling our Promises, Providing Exceptional Service, Pursuing Excellence through Learning and Working as a Team.

Throughout the year, employees can be nominated by their peers to receive a PRIDE in the Code award. Quarterly award winners are selected from among all employees receiving a PRIDE in the Code award during a particular quarter. The highlight each year is when one of the quarterly winners is selected for the annual Thomas R. Brown PRIDE in the Code award.

The Carl G. Brown Jr. Award of Excellence, considered California Casualty’s highest honor,  is given to those who exemplify the value of Carl G. Brown Jr. – author of the California Casualty Code – who, over his 40 years of service, tirelessly dedicated his time, talent and energy to the company and the community.

Each year, in keeping with Mr. Brown’s deep personal commitment to responsibility and achievement in both these areas, the award is presented to an employee in recognition of excellence in their contributions to California Casualty and their local community.

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The 2020 recipient of the Thomas R. Brown Pride in the Code Award is Carleen N., Senior Communications Systems Analyst, for Providing Exceptional Service.

Carleen went above and beyond to help our employees work through phone and workspace issues at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was instrumental in assisting employees in many areas of the company to set up workspaces at home. Carleen solved numerous work-from-home phone issues, helped departments learn how to use our enterprise videoconferencing solution, and supported employees coming back into the office.

In addition to demonstrating the value of Providing Exceptional Service, Carleen is also someone who lives our core value of Working as a Team. One of her PRIDE in the Code nominators, Lisa P., said, “Carleen worked with so many employees with varying levels of system expertise. She was always patient and kind, with a positive attitude the entire time.” Another of her nominators, Greg F., added, “Carleen was willing to do whatever it took, working later in the evenings and on weekends as well!”

Managers and team leaders across the company recognize that Carleen’s expertise and dedication have helped their teams deliver for California Casualty’s policyholders in this difficult time, when nurses, law enforcement, firefighters, and educators are being stretched to do their jobs in ways that would have seemed unimaginable a year ago. Mike McCormick stated, “We have been able to continue to be available to our group members through it all because of Carleen’s responsiveness in working with our team!”

The Sales Leadership Team summed it up well: “We are so appreciative of Carleen and wanted to recognize her for the difference she makes. Thank you, Carleen!”

 

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The 2020 recipient of the Carl G. Brown Jr. Award of Excellence is Todd B., Senior Vice President-Underwriting Operations/ Analysis & Corporate Legal.

Todd started his CCMC career in the Colorado Service Center in 1998, excelling as a Sales Representative and as a Sales Team Manager. From 2003 to 2012, a period that included his election to Vice President in 2009, Todd had responsibility for various combinations of the following departments: Underwriting Operations, Service, Sales, and Direct Mail/Marketing Services. After a brief hiatus of just over one year as a self-employed entrepreneur, Todd returned to California Casualty in 2013 as Manager of Home Office Underwriting. Over the next few years, Todd gained responsibility for Underwriting Quality Assurance and Underwriting Operations, and he was re-elected Vice President in 2017. In 2020, Todd’s responsibilities were further expanded to add Corporate Legal and Licensing, and in December 2020 he was elected Senior Vice President.

Todd is a true champion of continuing education, personally earning seven insurance designations including his CPCU. He has successfully encouraged his staff to do the same as a way to increase their knowledge and elevate their expertise, through learning and obtaining the designations to reflect their achievements and their professionalism. On the application submitted for this award, Todd’s nominators stated, “With the value, he has set on education, it is no surprise that Underwriting has experienced a large number of employees receiving designations over the past few years with more in the works.” We are proud of the many employees in Underwriting and throughout the company who have risen to the challenge of boosting their knowledge and expertise, as California Casualty moves forward in a rapidly changing personal lines marketplace.

Todd is a “skilled and enthusiastic communicator” who is “able to gain buy-in by others for procedure changes and project implementations.” The key to his success is that his “openness to creative solutions is contagious and is a great gift Todd provides to those he interacts with.” Todd has always been open to new processes and innovations, leading or collaborating with others on many projects that have positively impacted California Casualty and how we do business. Todd is a bowhunter who has held leadership positions in organizations dedicated to conservation and record keeping. He has served as a director on the board of the Colorado Bowhunters Association, from which he received the 2018 CBA Bowhunter of the Year award, a lifetime achievement award, for his many hours of service and efforts. Todd has also served as a director of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society and of Pope & Young, the largest bowhunting organization in North America.

Please join us in congratulating Todd!

 

This article is furnished by California Casualty, providing auto and home insurance to educators, law enforcement officers, firefighters, and nurses. Get a quote at 1.866.704.8614 or www.calcas.com.

Debbie Hunter-Ellis – 40 Years of California Casualty

Debbie Hunter-Ellis – 40 Years of California Casualty

40 years of California Casualty As 2020 comes to a close, so does a great career for Debbie Hunter-Ellis AVP- Customer Service Manager. Debbie celebrated her 40th anniversary with California Casualty in July and at the end of this year will celebrate her much-deserved retirement.

We recently had the pleasure to (virtually) sit down with Debbie and discuss her life and her career at California Casualty. Here’s what she told us:

“I was born in Natchitoches, Louisiana home to the 1989 hit movie “Steel Magnolias”. I was raised in a military family and lived most of my life in Northern California.  San Jose State University, home of the Spartans, is my alma mater. I graduated with a BA degree in Business Management. During college, I worked in the Career Center where I was responsible for organizing the on-campus interviews for graduates seeking employment with corporations in the Silicon Valley and Bay area region. This is where I came across California Casualty, who was recruiting college graduates. The family-owned business and their willingness to hire and train graduates fresh out of school was an attractive attribute.”

Debbie applied and soon started off as a Customer Service Representative in San Jose, where she learned about automobile and home insurance, and how to service customers on their policies.

After eight years in her Customer Service role, she was promoted to Customer Service Supervisor which quickly transitioned to a Customer Service Team Manager. At that time, she moved with California Casualty and had the honor to take part in the opening of our Colorado Springs Service Center.

Debbie said, “The opening of the Service Center was a rewarding experience. As a Customer Service Team Manager, I contributed to the development of processes and procedures, recruiting, guiding, and developing employees while meeting the customer and the company expectations.”  Debbie managed a team of 10 – 15 Customer Care Specialist for over 20 years. And each year her team excelled at providing quality customer experience to California Casualty’s affinity group members. “The Customer Service Team Manager position is where I established a solid foundation for continuous learning and leadership development.” she said, “Furthermore; this provided the opportunity for the Customer Service Department Manager where I have been in this leadership role for the past 7 years.”

It’s a very great and rare occurrence when an employee reaches a milestone as great as their 40-year mark. When asked about her past four decades with California Casualty, she said, “I have seen and experienced a lot of positive change during the past 40 years. We have really achieved great heights! It is rare to say you have only worked for one company in your career. I’m humbled and grateful for the amazing opportunity and experience with California Casualty.”

Debbie said she will miss the unique culture that has developed over the years, but the strong relationships and the day-to-day interactions with the Customer Service Management Team and employees will never be forgotten.

And the Customer Service Department will never forget the impact Debbie has had on them. Debbie’s friends and peers, Vice President of Customer Service, Daphne Pavone, and Senior Customer Service and Agency Services Team Manager, Bianca Odom, had a few parting words they wanted to say to, and on behalf of, Debbie as she gets closer to her well-deserved retirement day.

“Debbie Hunter-Ellis is a wonderful person and an amazing co-worker. She cares about her colleagues and has spent her career focused on delivering quality customer service and developing her people.  Debbie’s calm and professional demeanor makes her a natural ‘go-to’ for an additional and balanced perspective. I consider Debbie a colleague and a friend. Thank you, Debbie, it has been a true joy working with you! I wish you all of the best in this new chapter of life. -Daphne”

“Ever since I joined the Customer Service Team, Debbie has been a great mentor and friend. She has always been a leader that has demonstrated good judgment and sets an example for others to follow as she is hard-working, fair, honest, dependable, and understanding. I appreciate Debbie more than I could ever express and I’m sad to see her go; although I’m also very excited for this next step in her life.  Congratulations Debbie!  We will miss you! –Bianca”

In retirement, Debbie plans to spend her days traveling, enjoying outdoor activities, and exploring creative endeavors.

Enjoy every second of it, Debbie, you’ve earned it! We will all miss you and wish you the best. You’ll always be a part of the CalCas family; thank you for 40 years.

Debbie Hunter-Ellis – 40 Years of California Casualty

Arlene Brown – 50 Years of California Casualty

Arlene Brown This afternoon Arlene Brown, California Casualty RUS Analyst, reaches a milestone in her career, that few ever see in their lifetime, as she celebrates her 50th anniversary as a full-time employee.

In recognition of this incredible achievement, Joe Volponi, President and CEO of California Casualty, honored Arlene in an email sent to all CalCas employees telling Arlene’s career story and highlighting the significant impact she has made at CalCas within her 50 years. Read an excerpt below.

“It is not often in this company (maybe never) that an employee reaches 50 years of service as a full-time employee. Arlene Brown will reach that incredible milestone and a well-deserved retirement on September 8th.

She started as a Coder, working with Assigned Risk paper files. She quickly progressed to become the Auto Coding Assistant Supervisor in charge of Assigned Risk and was given the nickname “Queen of Assigned Risk.” She worked with both agents, and customers, often remembering their names and policy numbers from year to year! Those were the days when every detail had to be transferred to a grid, which a keypunch operator entered. Rating was done by hand and with a 10 key calculator spitting out the answers on paper tape. Her other daily tool was a pro-rata wheel, a few relics of which still survive today, although they remain a mystery to those familiar with more modern devices.

Arlene’s reputation for accuracy followed her throughout her career. She was a strong underwriter who was frequently overheard teaching sales reps how to find the answer to their question in the underwriting manual (a large binder with hundreds of pages). Online reference tools didn’t exist back then, so it was a manual process. She didn’t just want to give an answer, but rather help them understand where to find the answer for next time.

Similar to the Guidewire conversion we are going through today, the company as gone through several system conversions in the span of 50 years. One such conversion to the Policy Management System (PMS), as part of that effort, she ultimately wrote much of the PMS manual that defined each field of entry into PMS. The effort of proofreading draft procedures for accuracy and consistency became known as “Arlene-a-sizing”.

Arlene was a founding member of the QAD team, a group formed to improve quality assurance of PMS (Series 2) entries. As things evolved, she was a natural to become part of the RUS team, when it was formed to oversee the automation of rating, underwriting, and system processing. She became an expert in writing QMF queries, and could apply them against different generations of the system since she was one of the few that had worked in all the different systems!

Aside from all her accomplishments on the insurance side of the business, she was a tireless worker on the In-Club committees that coordinated many employee events over the years. In addition to coordinating the details for these events, she put together photo albums to commemorate them.

Arlene considered California Casualty her family, and did everything in her power to bring success. In her half-century here, she’s touched many people in a variety of ways. People like her have made this company successful.”

Arlene’s successful career is full of many achievements, but one of her favorite memories in her time with CalCas is winning the well-deserved Carl G. Brown, Jr. Award of Excellence, which is an employee-nominated award given annually to an employee whose sustained excellent contribution to the company is matched by a substantial contribution to his or her community.

When asked what the secret is to her 50-year career, she says, “It’s true what ‘they’ say about loving what you do – the time just flies. When you love your job it leads to honing your skills, seeing opportunities to improve things (processes), and finding the needles in haystacks to resolve system/policy problems. That being said, I couldn’t do the job I’ve done without the support of my work family.”

And we couldn’t do it without you, Arlene. Congratulations, and thank you for all you have done for California Casualty. You have helped turn us into the company we are today. Your presence in the office will be missed each and every day. Have a great retirement!

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