Displaying articles from 2016 | Clear Filter

Ohio Insurance Agents announces new CEO Jeff Smith

GAHANNA, OH – Ohio Insurance Agents Association, Inc. (OIA) has announced that Jeff Smith, JD, will transition to CEO effective Jan. 1, 2017. With 16 years of experience working for statewide associations, Smith is passionate about leveraging OIA’s resources to make Ohio independent insurance agents more successful in an ever-changing marketplace.

OIA is the leading advocate for insurance consumers, independent agents and a competitive insurance marketplace. Smith has the experience and passion to help OIA educate consumers on the complexity of insurance decisions and the importance of having the professional advice of an independent insurance agent.

“Jeff is dedicated to OIA’s mission to promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide,” says OIA Board Chair Perk Reichley. “He has extensive knowledge of the association, members, volunteer leaders, partners and emerging trends of the industry. As a result, he is well positioned to help our association tell the story about our noble profession.”

Most recently, Smith led OIA’s advocacy, legal, human resources and membership activities. As CEO, his top priorities include inspiring the next generation of insurance leaders and developing business solutions to strengthen the relationships between independent agents and their clients.

Smith will replace long-time CEO George Haenszel. Leading the association for 32 years, Haenszel dedicated his life’s work to independent agents. Under his leadership, Ohio’s independent agents realized their aspirations of coming together to form one organization – OIA – as the leading voice for insurance consumers and independent agents. Haenszel will transition into the role of Senior Director to mentor Smith and the senior leadership team.

“OIA is an industry leader – our focus must be on knowing where the insurance industry is headed and then helping to lead our member agents there,” Smith says. “My goal is to develop business solutions to make independent agents more competitive in the modern insurance marketplace to ensure our industry is strong for generations to come.”


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agencies protect consumers and employers by offering them access to the best resources, tools and professional development programs available. OIA serves our members in four key areas: advocacy, professional development, business solutions and industry thought leadership.

oia

Ashland independent insurance agent receives Lifetime Achievement Award

COLUMBUS, OH – According to Rick Spreng, owner of Ashland-based Spreng-Smith Insurance Agency, “my business is a ministry to members of my community.” Ohio Insurance Agents Association presented Spreng with the 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award for his lifetime of leadership to the association, insurance industry and local community.

“There is no better business than the agency business to know people and work with them in the best and worst times in their lives,” Spreng says. “When I started in this business, I didn’t know anything about insurance. And now, after 46 years and a few days from retirement, I can honestly say I am blessed. This career path has provided me with the opportunity to make a profound difference in the lives of others.”

For over 40 years, Spreng has been involved in the independent agency system. He has been an association leader since he was first elected to represent Ohio Big I District 6 back in 2002. He served as president of the Big I Board from 2008 to 2009. He was elected to the merged Ohio board in 2013, and will conclude his service at the end of this year. Spreng has served as Big I National Director representing Ohio members on the IIABA National Board, which sets the strategic direction and policy of IIABA. While serving on the Trusted Choice Board of Directors, he helped to educate the public on the value of an independent insurance agent

“As I end my career, it's valuable to reflect on my experiences,” Spreng says. “God has placed me with those that have lost loved ones, had debilitating injury, experienced divorce, lost all of their material possessions, and many other difficult issues. I have been personally blessed by the strength of people. Insurance is an honorable business that hopefully has made me a better person.”

Spreng is passionate about making a difference in his community. His volunteer leadership involvement includes President of United Way of Ashland County as well as Campaign Chairman, President of the Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce, President of the Rotary Club, President of the Brethren Care Village, a long-term care facility in Ashland, Vice President of the Boy Scouts of America Johnny Appleseed Council and lay leader of the Trinity Lutheran Church of Ashland. He has also served on the board of the Ashland University Alumni Association.

Spreng’s proudest volunteer leadership experience was chairing the Ashland Bicentennial Celebration, along with his wife Kim. He also chaired the 175th community celebration where he founded the Ashland BalloonFest, which has become one of the premier annual festivals in Ohio. Spreng managed this event for the first 10 years. “Bringing an entire community together is a great experience,” Spreng says. “I am proud to be a part of such as wonderful tradition.”


Ohio Insurance Agents Association 

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agencies protect consumers and employers by offering them access to the best resources, tools and professional development programs available. OIA serves our members in four key areas: advocacy, professional development, business solutions and industry thought leadership.


Leading Advocate for Ohio Consumers Receives Insurance Industry Award

COLUMBUS, OH – Barbara Sears, Assistant Director for the Office of Health Transformation, is a leading advocate for important insurance issues impacting Ohio consumers. The Ohio Insurance Agents Association has awarded Sears the 2016 Independence Bell Award for her positive contributions to the insurance industry.

“Barbara Sears has a unique ability and knack for digging into the details of public policy issues,” says Jeff Smith, Director of Government Affairs and General Counsel at the Ohio Insurance Agents Association. “Her incredible knowledge on many issues, including insurance and Ohio’s workers’ compensation system, is unmistakable. She has been a leading advocate on several public policy issues that are critical to both Ohio consumers and independent insurance agents.”

Prior to her current role with the Office of Health Transformation, Sears was the Majority Floor Leader for the past three legislative sessions and a long-time independent insurance agent focused on employee health benefits. She was a co-sponsor for the Responsible Driver Protection Act, which seeks to protect responsible Ohio drivers who have been in an accident with an uninsured motorist. She chaired the House Insurance Committee when this bill was passed in the legislature.

To protect consumers, she was lead sponsor for the certificates of insurance bill (H.B. 259), which prohibits falsified or altered certificates of insurance. She was also a lead sponsor for H.B. 493, which established the Workers’ Compensation Other States Coverage Program in Ohio. In addition, Sears sponsored Ohio’s health insurance navigator bill (H.B. 3), which established regulations for navigators involved in helping consumers choose a health insurance plan on the exchange.

“I am very honored to receive the 2016 Independence Bell Award from the Ohio Insurance Agents,” Sears says. “Throughout my career, I have always been passionate about helping to elevate the professionalism of Ohio’s robust and competitive insurance industry, and help make a positive impact in the lives of Ohio consumers.”

Sears is a member of the Sylvania Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Ohio Association of Health Underwriters and Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society. She is also past president of the Toledo Independent Insurance Agents and Insurance Women of Toledo.


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agencies protect consumers and employers by offering them access to the best resources, tools and professional development programs available. OIA serves our members in four key areas: advocacy, professional development, business solutions and industry thought leadership.


Westerville independent insurance agent gives back to local military families

COLUMBUS, OH – For Chris Callen, president of Chris D. Callen Insurance Agent in Westerville, giving back to military families is a true calling.

A Vietnam War veteran who received the U.S. Army’s highest honor – The Combat Infantryman’s Badge and Bronze Star – Callen has personally walked in the shoes of those he helps with his nonprofit, The Callen Foundation. Because of his work with the Foundation, Callen is the recipient of the OIA Community Service Award, which recognizes an Ohio independent insurance agent making a positive impact in his or her community.

“As a former U.S. Army Combat Infantryman in Vietnam, I have seen the sacrifices our military families are required to make in order to serve our country and protect all of us, especially when the main breadwinner is called to duty overseas,” Callen says. “Like most Americans, we tend to forget the special price others pay for us on our behalf, especially those in the Ohio National Guard who are forced to leave good paying jobs to do tours overseas for extremely low pay. As our family has been blessed with a successful insurance business, we felt that it was time to give back.”

Established in 2011, The Callen Foundation provides short-term financial support to Ohio military families with urgent needs, such as food and basic living necessities, late bill payments, baby care items and emergency household repairs. In fact, 100 percent of donations to the foundation go directly to Ohio military families. “In 2010, when preparing Christmas gift lists for our family, my wife Lynn and I decided that no one in our family needed gifts and we should focus our efforts on helping Ohio military families,” Callen says. “It was then that we founded a 501c3 non-profit corporation to help us accomplish our goal.”

The Callen Foundation provides assistance to an average of four or five military families each month. In some cases, the servicemen and women have suffered serious, even career-ending, injuries. Other times, the main bread winner is serving in a combat zone and the spouse has no family or friends to rely on for support. For example, one military family relocated to the Columbus area from the south and could not afford winter boots for their seven children. Upon receiving this request, Callen and staff members from his insurance agency immediately went shopping for seven pairs of boots.

“With our foundation, we have found a niche that wasn’t being served,” Callen says. “Unlike most nonprofits supporting the military, The Callen Foundation doesn’t require recipients to be veterans or have experience serving overseas. For many servicemen and women who serve part-time in the National Guard or Reserve, it can be difficult to find and keep employment with trainings held throughout the year and the possibility of being called into active duty at any time.”

Callen works closely with the Ohio National Guard’s Family Readiness and Warrior Support Program to connect with local servicemen and women who need emergency assistance after all other options have been exhausted. Many times, The Callen Foundation is the last line of defense for these families.

“The Callen Foundation has helped many service members and their families with emergency needs,” says Captain Doug Franz of the Ohio National Guard. “In most cases, the majority of these requests have been resolved within 24 hours or less. The Callen Foundation continues to be a great partner that can be called on to assist service members who may not qualify for any assistance through other local agencies.”


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agencies protect consumers and employers by offering them access to the best resources, tools and professional development programs available. OIA serves our members in four key areas: advocacy, professional development, business solutions and industry thought leadership.


Stolly Insurance Group supports local high school students, nonprofits through community service efforts

COLUMBUS, OH – With a history of giving back to the local community dating back to 1904, the family-owned Stolly Insurance Group received the OIA Community Service Award for its Operation Giveback and SUCCEED scholarship programs. This award recognizes Ohio independent insurance agents making a positive difference in their communities.

“We have never lost our giving spirit, even five generations and 112 years after opening our doors,” says Peter Stolly, CIC, independent insurance agent at Stolly Insurance Group. “I think it’s important for any local business, especially independent insurance agents, to give back to their communities. We are blessed to have offices in five different community locations, and make an effort to help out in any way we can.”

Through the agency’s Operation Giveback program, an online contest for local nonprofit charities, Stolly Insurance Group gives donations to a variety of causes. Since 2015, the agency gave away a total of $4,500 to 10 charities. Members of the community can vote for their favorite nonprofit on Stolly Insurance Group’s website (stolly.com), and the nonprofit with the most votes gets the largest donation. The annual program and voting typically runs in July.

Recipients of the Operation Giveback program include Discovery Riders, based in Bellefontaine, which provides therapeutic equestrian riding to individuals with physical, mental and emotional challenges. Another nonprofit, Our Daily Bread soup kitchen in Bellefontaine, serves nearly 20,000 meals each year to members of the community in need. “I’ve volunteered at the soup kitchen with my local Rotary club over the years, so it was personally rewarding to present a donation to this organization,” Stolly says.

In 2004, Stolly Insurance Group established the SUCCEED Scholarship Program, which awards scholarships to two high school students each year who demonstrate excellence in academics, personal achievement and leadership abilities. The scholarships are used for post-secondary education, whether college or a technical school. The agency has received 200 applications for this year’s scholarship program.

“The Stolly Insurance Group philosophy has always been a commitment to education and helping young people in our communities,” Stolly says. “It’s a rewarding experience to visit a local high school and present a check to a deserving student, knowing we helped ease the financial burden for them to attend college.”


Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,400 independent agencies that employ nearly 10,000 Ohioans. We promote, progress and protect the professional advice and guidance only independent insurance agents provide. OIA members write 82 percent of the commercial insurance policies and 44 percent of personal insurance policies in Ohio. Our purpose is to help our member agencies protect consumers and employers by offering them access to the best resources, tools and professional development programs available. OIA serves our members in four key areas: advocacy, professional development, business solutions and industry thought leadership.

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