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Tiny Madison Mutual thinks and acts huge

By Elisabeth Boone, CPCU

What number of staff does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

At Madison Mutual Insurance coverage Firm in Chittenango, New York, lightbulbs are changed, flooring swept, and wastebaskets emptied by simply 9 full-time and two part-time staff, all of whom appear delighted to be working for this stalwart mini-mutual. In January of this yr the corporate celebrated its 125th anniversary, and employees members are justifiably pleased with its endurance and achievements.

Situated some 12 miles southeast of Syracuse, Madison Mutual was included in 1893 because the Madison-Onondaga Mutual Hearth Insurance coverage Firm to offer insurance coverage towards hearth and lightning to native farmers and enterprise house owners. After merging with an area hearth cooperative in 1983, the corporate shortened its identify to Madison Mutual Insurance coverage Firm. It carries an A.M. Greatest score of A-/Wonderful and serves the upstate New York area, writing a 60/40 combine of economic and private strains. Complete premium quantity is $5.7 million, and policyholder surplus stands at $10.9 million. The corporate is represented by about 100 unbiased brokers.

“Our philosophy isthat we gained’t ask another person to dowhat we will’t or gained’t do ourselves.”
-John C. Owens Jr., CPCU, CIC, ARe
President and Chief Government Officer

What makes this sturdy little insurer tick? To seek out out, we spoke with its government staff, who have been joined by the corporate’s retired president and chief government officer.

John Owens Jr., CPCU, CIC, ARe, present president and CEO, joined Madison Mutual in 1994 as advertising supervisor, with duty for appointing and dealing with brokers. Later he added underwriting to his duties, and in 2015 he turned president and CEO.

“In a small firm like ours, all of us put on many hats,” Owens says. “Along with advertising and underwriting, I help with claims, customer support, and firm operations—and with a colleague, I carry out an important government perform: shoveling snow off our photo voltaic roof (extra about that later). Our philosophy is that we gained’t ask another person to do what we will’t or gained’t do ourselves.” Owens acknowledges that rooftop snow shoveling includes a component of hazard and hastens to guarantee us that the corporate’s staff compensation premiums are absolutely paid up.

Serving as senior vice chairman of claims is Heidi Barron, CPCU, AIC, who joined Madison Mutual in 1995 after working for Related Mutual Insurance coverage in downstate New York.

Ben Thompson, CPCU, CIC, AIAF, ARC, AU, API, AIS, joined Madison Mutual a yr after graduating from school and now serves as vice chairman of underwriting and advertising. As proven by the string of letters after his identify, he took full benefit of the corporate’s help of professional schooling.

Tim Burback, retired president and chief government officer, joined Madison Mutual in 1978 after working for a number of years with main unbiased adjusting companies. After retiring as president and CEO, Burback turned the corporate’s funding officer, and he continues to serve on the board of administrators.

Flexibility is vital

Madison Mutual is a generalist insurer and doesn’t pursue particular courses of enterprise, Thompson says. “We’re not a distinct segment author, however I wish to assume we provide area of interest options for the spectrum of companies we insure. An instance is underwriting and valuation flexibility. Throughout the business we see the predominance of the cookie cutter strategy by which insurers mandate 100% of insurance coverage to worth as they decide it. I’m not knocking that mannequin; it’s by far probably the most environment friendly approach to offer high quality protection to nearly all of shoppers. That stated, a number of clients don’t match that mould, and we satisfaction ourselves on an underwriting strategy that takes particular person variations under consideration so we will supply various choices.”

The corporate’s product line displays its dedication to flexibility. Its Householders Freedom Coverage and Landlords Freedom Coverage permit insureds to purchase the protection restrict of their selection, as much as the alternative worth of the dwelling, whereas nonetheless offering alternative value protection on partial losses. Underneath the insurance policies, precise money worth protection is just not obligatory and no penalties are imposed for underinsurance. The insurance policies are designed to satisfy the wants of three classes of insureds: those that would rebuild and need full alternative value protection with out an insurance-to-value provision; those that would rebuild however not with the identical sort or measurement of dwelling, and people who wouldn’t rebuild and need to insure just for the market worth or buy worth of the property.

“Despite the fact that we don’t write enterprise in Europe, we’ve policyholderswho reside everywhere in the world. We have to make sure the safety of their personally identifiable info.”
-Heidi Okay. Barron, CPCU, AIC
Senior Vice President-Claims

As extra shoppers undertake the sensible house idea, Madison Mutual has responded by providing as much as a 15% credit score to policyholders who’ve qualifying sensible house protecting units of their residences. A qualifying gadget is any equipment or function of a residence that may be monitored or managed remotely by a cellular app in a fashion that decreases the probability or severity of a coated loss.

Adios to DOS

As onerous as it might appear to consider, till just some years in the past Madison Mutual operated with a DOS-based automation system.

“We adopted a DOS-based system in 1982, and we stayed with the identical vendor and the identical packages via 2013,” Owens says. “Round 2005 we acknowledged that we would have liked to be extra ahead considering and that our future viability can be tied to profiting from creating know-how. We started to discover choices, together with doing our personal customized programming, after which we had conversations with BriteCore, a developer of software program platforms for insurers, MGAs, and insurtech startups.”

“We’re not a distinct segment author, however I wish to assume we provide area of interest options for the spectrum of companies we insure.”
-Benjamin M. Thompson, CPCU, CIC, AIAF, ARC, AU, API, AIS
Vice President
Underwriting and Advertising

In 2011 Madison Mutual started the method of changing from its DOS-based system to a web-based system. “This was a serious enterprise,” Thompson says. “We have been making the transition from a system that was so antiquated that there was no hope of transferring knowledge, so we needed to manually rekey knowledge from each coverage into the brand new system. I’m actually pleased with the best way our staff carried out this activity. After the method was accomplished, I might rely on the fingers of 1 hand the variety of typos or different errors.”

As soon as the brand new system was in place, the corporate ran parallel with the previous system for a yr. “We needed to offer uninterrupted service to our brokers and policyholders with out having to ask them to be affected person with us whereas we labored the kinks out of the brand new system,” Thompson explains. “We doubly entered each single transaction, and as issues arose within the new system we have been capable of iron them out behind the scenes with nobody being the wiser. This strategy allowed us to realize a seamless transition.”

Thompson and his colleagues understandably are delighted with their state-of-the-art automation system. “It’s introduced us a world of benefits,” he says enthusiastically. “Along with on-line score and quoting, we will supply our brokers a complete and useful portal with stay chat functionality. Our cybersecurity place is vastly improved with the brand new system. We not host our coverage administration system on our personal server. Our web-based system permits distant entry for our staff. One other massive benefit is that we’ve been capable of transfer to a paperless setting.”

A civil tongue

Most of us can agree that modern society, with its “in your face, me first, something goes” mentality, is conspicuously missing within the as soon as extremely valued high quality of civility. To advertise harmonious and productive interactions within the office, Madison Mutual goes past merely paying lip service to the idea and has enshrined its dedication in a civility coverage that units requirements of conduct and identifies behaviors that won’t be tolerated. Along with rudeness and insults, the coverage forbids profanity, derogatory language, elevating one’s voice, indecent options, invading one other particular person’s private area, and gesturing at one other individual in a threatening method.

“We thought it was a good suggestion to place downin writing how an worker ought to reply if somebody began to cross the road.”
-Timothy D. Burback
Retired President and Chief Government Officer

The civility coverage was developed by then President and CEO Tim Burback and was authorised by the board of administrators in 2008. The coverage initially utilized to employees interactions with brokers, policyholders, distributors, and members of the general public. Staff who have been handled rudely or disrespectfully by outsiders have been empowered to tell the offending social gathering that the corporate adheres to a civility coverage and that staff won’t permit themselves to be subjected to abusive remedy.

“Throughout my tenure I informed staff to return to me in the event that they have been subjected to inappropriate conduct, and I took a couple of of these telephone calls myself,” says Burback. “Coming from a claims adjusting background, I knew what it was wish to cope with indignant insureds. We thought it was a good suggestion to place down in writing how an worker ought to reply if somebody began to cross the road. On this state of affairs the worker tells the person: ‘Cease proper there. Go on our web site and skim our definition of civility, and when you’ll be able to meet that commonplace, we’ll be completely happy to speak with you and tackle your considerations.’”

From a set of tips for workers on how one can cope with impolite or disrespectful outsiders, the coverage advanced into an organization-wide rubric that additionally applies to interactions between staff.

“The coverage is meant to advertise mutual respect, civility, and orderly conduct amongst firm staff and the general public,” Owens explains. “It’s not meant to deprive anybody of his or her proper to freedom of expression however to take care of a protected, harassment-free office. We search the general public’s cooperation in adhering to our coverage.”

Going photo voltaic

Earlier we promised to inform you extra concerning the photo voltaic panels Madison Mutual had put in behind its workplace constructing in 2017. The corporate has been dedicated to going inexperienced because the 1990s when it carried out a recycling and waste disposal initiative. At the moment it was troublesome to discover a recycling middle that might settle for shredded paper, so the corporate determined to donate the paper to an area farmer who might use it as bedding for livestock.

The corporate’s transition to a paperless surroundings additionally decreased its environmental impression, as did its selection to make use of energy-efficient LED lightbulbs all through its constructing.

An enormous step ahead in Madison Mutual’s inexperienced initiative was taken when it organized for the set up of 115 photovoltaic panels in two ground-mounted rows behind its workplace. The corporate estimates that this technique, mixed with the conversion to LED bulbs, will offset over 100% of its earlier annual electrical energy consumption. A hyperlink on the corporate’s web site invitations guests to view its photo voltaic power manufacturing on-line.

From its founding in 1893 to the current, Madison Mutual has stored one foot firmly planted in conventional values whereas putting the opposite foot into the always evolving world of know-how. Like several enterprise, the corporate faces challenges and strives to show them into alternatives.

One such problem, Thompson observes, is the necessity to sustain with technological advances concurrently the insurance coverage business finds itself in a panorama which may greatest be characterised by the phrase “disruption.” Brokers and policyholders, he says, anticipate suppliers of services to make transactions fast, straightforward, and painless. “Mastering insurtech and IoT applied sciences might be very important to our future,” he asserts.

A associated problem is the necessity to present strong cybersecurity measures to guard delicate info from hackers, phishers, and different cybercriminals. As the chief with duty for cybersecurity, Barron should make sure that the corporate complies with the provisions of New York’s cybersecurity regulation, which went into impact in 2017 and has a three-year phase-in interval.

“We additionally need to adjust to NAIC laws and the provisions of the European Fee’s Basic Knowledge Safety Regulation or GDPR,” Barron explains. “Although we don’t write enterprise in Europe, we now have policyholders who reside everywhere in the world. We have to make sure the safety of their personally identifiable info.”

A 3rd problem additionally includes know-how: particularly, the IVANS obtain course of through which the corporate has been engaged for a number of months.

“This can be a time-consuming however important process, and we’re assured that it’ll ship vital advantages to each our brokers and our policyholders whereas permitting us to save lots of money and time,” Owens says.

Because it celebrates its 125th anniversary, Madison Mutual demonstrates in its philosophy, operations, and initiatives that it really is “the little mutual that would.”

For extra info:

Madison Mutual Insurance coverage Firm

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