AGENCY FOCUS page 4
• EMPLOYEE FOCUS page 10 • SERVICE IS EVERYONE’S JOB
TIMELY NEWS AND INFORMATION FROM ACUIT Y
A BETTER WAY TO PAY
WORK COMP PREMIUMS
w w w.acuity.com
ACUITY SMARTPAY IS A
SMARTER WAY TO
What do landscape contractors, home builders,
manufacturers, and many other classes of business have in
common? All are subject to payroll fluctuations that can
happen throughout the year.
Payrolls change at businesses for many reasons.
Seasonal operations adjust their workforces frequently,
revenue growth at some firms leads to the hiring of more
employees, and shifts in the economy can have a dramatic
impact on a company’s staffing level—and on the workers’
comp premiums that they owe.
“Businesses with fluctuating payrolls should have a
way to better plan and budget their expenses by paying
more during busy times and less during slow times,” says
Ben Salzmann, President and CEO. “Also, businesses that
grow during a policy term can generate significant audit
premium—and no agent likes explaining a large audit bill to
ACUITYSmartPay is a smarter way for businesses with
changing payrolls to manage their workers’ compensation
insurance premiums. With ACUITYSmartPay, workers’
compensation premiums are calculated monthly based
on the payrolls reported by a policyholder. Other lines
of business can be written on the same policy and billed
monthly along with workers’ compensation on a single
“Unlike other carriers, we don’t require workers’ comp
to be written monoline to use payroll reporting,” says Ed
Warren, Vice President - Commercial Lines.
How to Get Smart
To qualify for ACUITYSmartPay, an account should
have a total workers’ compensation premium of at least
$10,000. Based on the reported payrolls, premium payments
are withdrawn from the policyholder’s bank account
via ACH. A 15 percent down payment, based on the
total policy premium, is required for the first term of an
Reporting payroll is easy: ACUITYSmartPay is a
paperless process where insureds simply go to the Customer
Care site at acuity.com and enter their payroll information
each month. There is no need to mail monthly reports as
other carriers require.
To enroll in ACUITYSmartPay, agents should contact
their underwriter on behalf of policyholders who are
interested in the program.
“Having a web-based system that’s available for
businesses to use 24/7 is important to make a payroll
reporting process easy, convenient, and efficient,”
says Sheri Murphy, Vice President - Services and
Administration. “ACUITY calculates premium
automatically, with payment withdrawn from the
policyholder’s bank account, and notifies insureds
via email when payments are made.”
“For businesses to excel today, focusing on
the customer experience has taken center stage,”
says Salzmann. “Offering payroll reporting with
ACUITYSmartPay helps insureds improve cash
flow and budget their workers’ comp premium.
Thus ACUITYSmartPay enhances the customer
experience agents provide.”
Benefits to Your Customers:
•Improves cash flow by allowing insureds to pay more premium during busy times and less during slow times.
•Reduces the likelihood of big surprises at audit.
•Enables seasonal business, such as contractors, to better
plan and budget insurance expenses.
•Provides a web-based system to make monthly payroll reporting easy.
Benefits to You:
•Lessens the chance of large additional premium audits that can frustrate customers.
•Minimizes the need for agents to explain why additional premium is due.
•Reduces the likelihood of premium due going to a collections attorney. Keep in mind—agents don’t get paid on premiums collected by attorneys.
• Provides a competitive advantage because few carriers
offer pay-as-you-go plans.
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B U S I N E S S I N T E G R I T Y, S T A F F L O N G E V I T Y
HOWEY & ASSOCIATES
Since opening its doors for business in 1953,
Howey & Associates has always followed the philosophy of its
founder, Charles O. Howey, Sr., to bring out the best in each of its
“Mr. Howey challenged me to learn one new thing every day,”
says Reba Wilkins, Vice President, who began working at the
agency as a co-op student in high school. “If he asked what I had
learned on any day and I said nothing, he would take a few minutes
and teach me something new about insurance. His attitude, nurturing,
and progressive thinking really attracted me to the agency.”
Reba joined the agency full-time after high school. This year, she
celebrated her 50th year with Howey & Associates, headquartered in
“Lots of people with 50 years experience at other companies are
looking toward retirement, if they haven’t retired already. I continue
working here because I enjoy what I do and the people I work with,”
Reba says. “I’m this agency’s biggest fan.”
Charles O. (Skip) Howey, Jr., the agency’s President,
readily says that their employees are the agency’s greatest asset.
Collectively, the staff has over 800 years of insurance experience,
and about half of the 31 members have over 20 years of experience
with the agency. That longevity is a tribute to the way the agency
values its employees.
“My dad was always ahead of the times,” says Skip. “Back when
the insurance business was a ‘men’s club,’ he made sure everyone
had equal opportunity for career advancement, including naming
Reba as Vice President in the 1970s. All of our CSRs were licensed
agents well before other agencies considered doing the same.”
A Complete Solution
Howey & Associates’ mission is to be a complete solution for
“It’s not just about providing the right
products. We make it a priority to provide
complete, competent, and caring service.
We also care about the community just
as we care about our clients and staff,”
says Reba. “When it comes to people
facing difficulty, that’s where our staff
really shines, whether it’s a coworker
with health issues, a customer concern,
or a community need.”
“Our customers tell us that our
knowledge, experience, and commitment
to service set us apart,” Skip says.
The agency is also known for maintaining the
highest level of integrity. “We work every day at earning the
trust of our clients and company partners,” Reba says. “We want our
clients to trust that we’re the best advocate for them, and we go well
out of our way to be an exceptional partner to the companies
Getting the Job Done
Stable, steady growth has defined the agency’s progress over
the past 60-plus years. In order to maintain that growth, Howey
& Associates is addressing perpetuation needs as the inevitable
retirement of its long-tenured staff approaches. Skip, a high school
hockey coach, is introducing student-athletes to the agency and the
insurance business. Skip’s son, Mac, is currently interning at the
agency on his summer break from college and hockey.
“We will continue Dad’s philosophy that the best person gets
the job, regardless of whether that person is younger or experienced,
male or female, family or not,” Skip says. “Everyone here knows
that they have an equal shot at opportunity.”
Charles (Skip) Howey, Jr., Charles Howey, Sr., and Reba Wilkins.
Photo by Merideth C. Gillhespy.
The blockbuster educational videos available online through
ACUITY U feature all the excitement of a spy movie—but without a nefarious
plot to blow up the world. However, videos aren’t all that we offer when it comes
to agent education.
ACUITY ’s traditional, in-office CE courses are also a great way for agents
to earn credits. Like our online courses, they’re filled with valuable content,
delivered in-person by one of our many experienced territory directors.
Typically, our in-person classes are two-hour, two-credit courses. Commercial
Property and Ethics have three-credit options as well.
ACUITY offers basic courses, including:
• Personal Lines
• Commercial Lines
• Commercial Auto
• Commercial Property
• Workers’ Compensation
B Y J O H N K AU T Z E R –
G E N E R A L M A N AG E R - S A L E S
Additionally, we provide a number of specialty courses that help agents build
in-depth experience in specific topics. Currently, our advanced course catalog
• Advanced Personal Lines, covering auto, homeowners, package policies, recreational vehicles, and umbrella exposures and coverages
• Advanced Workers’ Compensation, covering the true cost of a workers’ compensation claim and analysis of a selection of advanced topics
NUMBER OF AGENTS WHO
• Additional Insureds, analyzing contractual liability and additional insured endorsements
• Ethics, focusing on ethical dilemmas and situations agents may experience
All these courses are extremely valuable, not just because of their important
content, but also because our territory directors deliver them in the agents’
offices, eliminating the need for staff to travel. Our underwriters may also
participate if a scheduled class coincides with their agency visits. Word has
definitely gotten out, and the number of agents taking advantage of our in-office
classes exploded in 2014! (See graph.)
Our philosophy behind ACUITY U is that education plays a major role in
helping agents provide the best service to our mutual customers. In fact, agents
can meet nearly all of their CE requirements just by taking advantage of the
opportunities ACUITY has to offer!
Also, each and every one of our CE courses, including videos and in-office
sessions, are free to agents. In fact, we even pay agents $20 to watch the ACUITY
U video productions!
For more information on our CE courses or to schedule a class, contact your
• Specialty courses that cover unique exposures and coverages for:
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ACUITY NAMES FIVE
Katie Baeckman is promoted to Manager - Services. A graduate of Lincoln High
School in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Katie joined ACUITY in 2010 as a Commercial Processor.
is promoted to Manager - Premium Audit. Josh joined ACUITY
in June 2013 as Premium Auditor for Colorado and New Mexico. He graduated in 2003 from
the University of Louisville with a bachelor of science degree in business management.
Melissa Meyer is promoted to Manager - Commercial Underwriting. Melissa
started at ACUITY in June 2005 as a Commercial Underwriter and was promoted in 2012 to Senior
Commercial Underwriter. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Melissa earned a
bachelor’s degree in finance and marketing. She has also earned her AU and CPCU designations as
well as a master’s degree in business administration.
Carissa Olson is promoted to Manager - Commercial Lines. She will lead a team
handling commercial business in Kansas and Western Missouri. In 2006, Carissa began her
career at ACUITY as a Commercial Underwriter. In 2013, she completed her CPCU designation
and was promoted to Senior Commercial Underwriter. Carissa graduated from UW-La Crosse
with a bachelor’s degree in communication studies, with an emphasis in public relations and
is promoted to Manager - Services. A graduate of Kiel High
School, Stephanie joined ACUITY in July 2008 as a Commercial Processor and was promoted in
June 2014 to Senior Commercial Processor.
When an injury occurs at work, it isn’t always clear whether
the injured employee needs to see a doctor. ACUITY’s M.A.S.H.
(Maximum ACUITY Service for Healthcare) program takes the
guesswork out of the initial claims process.
M.A.S.H. is a 24/7 nurse triage service for nonemergency,
work-related injuries. A nurse counsels the injured worker on
appropriate initial care and continues to monitor the injury to
determine if further care is needed. The service can reduce
reported claims by up to 30 percent, provide claims cost savings
of up to 45 percent, prevent minor incidents from becoming
major claims, and help employees return to work earlier—all at
no cost to the customer.
Employers are notified by mail when an employee calls
M.A.S.H. When a worker chooses not to seek medical treatment
because the M.A.S.H. service addressed the injury, the claim
will not count against the experience mod. Learn more about
Pictured with Dallin is Sonja DeVore, ACUITY Territory
Director for Utah.
M.A.S.H. at www.acuity.com/mash.
Small-business truckers rallied and members of the U.S.
House of Representatives responded on June 4. House lawmakers
voted 175-248 on a proposed amendment to a Transportation,
Housing, and Urban Development bill that would have cleared
involvement, hardware industry education, and extracurricular
activities, Dallin was named 2015 Young Retailer of the Year at
the recent National Hardware Show.
ACUITY is a proud vendor partner of the North American
Retail Hardware Association.
the way for increases in insurance requirements for trucking and
With summer comes an increase in construction activity in
The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association
many parts of the country. Keep in mind that financial results that
(OOIDA) and other industry groups told Congress that FMCSA’s
exceed expectations can bring surprises when policies are audited.
proposal to raise insurance limit requirements—an initiative
Please reach out to your construction clients and review their
based on increases in medical inflation—would not make
original payroll estimates and compare with current payments
and projections. If the difference is significant, work with your
OOIDA further stated that FMCSA’s own data shows that more
underwriter to submit a revised payroll estimate.
than 99 percent of crash damages are covered under the current
Small customer service efforts like this go a long way toward
gaining your clients’ loyalty. For new business submissions
with workers’ compensation coverage, consider utilizing
Congratulations to ACUITY insured Dallin Redd. Dallin is
the fourth-generation owner of Redd’s Ace Hardware in Blanding,
ACUITYSmartPay, which enables your customers to pay the
appropriate premium each month based on actual payrolls.
Utah. Based on his career accomplishments, community
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KERI HERLONG HONORED
BY LAS VEGAS INSURANCE
The Las Vegas Insurance Professionals (LVIP) presented
Keri Herlong, Commercial Field Underwriter for Nevada, with its 20142015 Member of the Year award. LVIP is a chapter of the International
Association of Insurance Professionals (IAIP).
“Keri has an excellent reputation as a role model for young
professionals and is always a willing volunteer when needed.
She is an advocate for the international and local associations,
promoting attendance and participation in events,” says
Pamela Mackay, LVIP board member and past President of
both the Las Vegas chapter and Nevada state association of
the IAIP. “Keri has always taken advantage of all opportunities
for professional growth,” Mackay adds. “She has
achieved distinction through insurance education
both personally and in the encouragement of all our
members to acquire insurance-related knowledge
and accompanying designations.”
Keri holds the CPCU, CIC, CISR, ACSR, and
Pamela Mackay (right) presents the Las Vegas Insurance
Professionals Member of the Year Award to Keri Herlong.
JOHN R. HOLDEN, 1921-2015
John R. Holden, former president and CEO
of ACUITY (then known as Heritage Mutual Insurance
Company), passed away June 24 at the age of 94.
Holden first became associated with ACUITY (Mutual
Automobile Insurance Company of Wisconsin) in 1948 as a
trial attorney. He held numerous positions before becoming
Secretary & General Counsel in 1960. In 1969, he became
CEO and Chairman of the Board. In January 1999, thenpresident Ben Salzmann assumed the additional title of
CEO upon Holden’s retirement.
During John Holden’s tenure as CEO, the company’s
written premium grew from just over $7 million to $249
million and set the stage for new leadership, which would
take ACUITY to over $1.243 billion today.
John Holden was born in La Valle, Wisconsin, in 1921.
He received a law degree from the University of Wisconsin
Law School. He held numerous offices with the State Bar of
Wisconsin and also served on several bank boards.
IN THE WORLD IS
Pat Schultz is an agent at
Langan, Haeger, Vincent &
Born in Wheaton, Illinois,
a division of WilliamsManny Insurance Group. Pat
traveled to Maui with her
husband, Art, to visit family
who live there. Pictured
from left to right are Jon,
Pat, Melanie, Hudson, and
Daniel, who is holding
Jill Bodmer, Personal Lines Agent at the Sholley
Agency in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, vacationed in
St. Thomas and St. John with her husband, Dave.
She took along some great reading material for the
trip to Dreams Sugar Bay resort!
Corine Cowles from Gannon Associates in
Athens, Pennsylvania, traveled to Walt Disney
World in Orlando for Thanksgiving and took her
ACUITY mittens along.
Would you like to win $100? Email a picture of you or your family with ACUITY logo gear visiting an interesting location to
[email protected] and include a brief description of Where in the World ACUITY has been. If we use your picture, we’ll send
you $100! This offer is open to all employees of ACUITY and our independent agencies.
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BRANDON NOVACK GIVES AN ASSIST
TO THOSE WHO KEPT
HIM IN THE GAME
By the time he was in middle school in Cedar
Grove, Wisconsin, Brandon Novack was playing just about
every sport the community offered. However, a doctor’s
appointment when he was 12 would change that. Brandon was
diagnosed with childhood leukemia, and his intramural playing
days were over.
“Getting a diagnosis like that makes you grow up very
fast,” Brandon recalls. “One week, I was playing in a basketball
game and feeling fine, and the next week, my life was flipped
During Brandon’s treatment, his parents, Len and Joanie,
and brother, Connor, provided comfort and support. Brandon
also relied heavily on resources provided by the MACC Fund.
Founded in 1976, the MACC (Midwest Athletes Against
Childhood Cancer) Fund is dedicated to funding childhood
cancer and related blood disorder research.
“When I was battling cancer, I was first introduced to the
MACC Fund when I was given the opportunity to attend a
Bucks game. It gave me a chance to just be a kid and forget
about being sick, which was some of the best medicine I could
have got at that point in time,” Brandon says.
The MACC Fund gives hope to kids fighting cancer and
their families, providing valuable research dollars. Since its
founding, the MACC Fund has helped improve the childhood
cancer cure rate from 20 to 80 percent, with an ultimate goal
of reaching 100 percent. Fortunately, Brandon is among the 80
percent. Just over two years after he started treatment—108
weeks, to be exact—doctors declared his cancer to be in
After graduating high school, Brandon enrolled at
UW-Sheboygan, utilizing a scholarship he won in the 2007
Junior Achievement Business Challenge held at ACUITY. After
earning his associate’s degree, he enrolled at UW-Green Bay,
where he earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
Brandon joined ACUITY in January 2015 as a Business Analyst.
Back in the Game
Brandon volunteers with the MACC Fund to encourage and
support children battling cancer. Last year at a bowling event,
he met Lily and found that they shared a common bond in
addition to their fight against leukemia.
“Lily created the 2014 TMJ4 MACC*Star Christmas
ornament. I created the star in 2005, the year that she was
born,” Brandon says. “That was a great connection between us
and really puts a lot of things into perspective.”
Although leukemia treatment took Brandon off the playing
field, he has found ways to get back in the game. He works on
the Milwaukee Bucks’ public relations game night staff and
also volunteers with the MACC Fund, speaking at events and
running the organization’s Twitter account.
“When I go to events now and see what kids with cancer
are going through, it reminds me of how much the MACC Fund
meant in my recovery,” Brandon says. “It’s a passion of mine to
help the organization reach its 100 percent goal.”
Brandon also brings the lessons learned through his long
road to recovery to high school athletes. He took coaching
classes while at UW-Green Bay and now coaches special teams
for the varsity football team at Cedar Grove-Belgium High
“Going through treatment taught me the importance of
teamwork by seeing the medical staff, my family, and the
MACC Fund all work together. I learned about the importance
of always moving forward to the next play,” Brandon says. “I
also learned that, whether in sports or in life, when you’re given
a second chance, you need to make the most of it.”
Brandon and Lily, who is holding the 2014 TMJ4
MACC*Star Christmas ornament
NEW AGENT TRAINING SEMINARS TARGET
ACUITY’s Commercial Lines
feature overviews of commercial lines underwriting, loss
New Agent Training Seminars help agents grow their
control, premium audit, claims, sales, and more. ACUITY
commercial book quickly and profitably by providing fast-
provides two nights’ accommodation at a local hotel for
start training on all the advantages ACUITY offers in
agents attending and also includes a special dinner with key
Designed for agents new to ACUITY (but not new to
Our next Commercial Lines New Agent Training Seminar
insurance), the two-day seminars let agents experience
will be held October 6-7, 2015. Contact your territory
ACUITY’s world-class training in our unique home-office
director with any questions or to sign up for the next class!
atmosphere. Held twice each year in spring and fall, seminars
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SERVICE IS EVERYONE’S
JOB AT ACUITY
ACUITY is known in the
cross-training our staff to
insurance industry as a leader in technology and
handle a wide variety
automation. Our agents and policyholders also
of tasks. For instance,
know ACUITY as a company that combines high-
many units, including
tech processing with a high-touch approach, and
where people throughout the company understand
that service is everyone’s job. Transcription
Our service difference is clear from the minute
you call ACUITY. You can use our efficient phone
system if you know who you need to talk to, or
easily speak to a live operator for guidance if you
trained to accurately
don’t. Whether you connect with one of our call
and efficiently index
centers (Billing, Commercial Processing, Personal
Lines Processing, or Services Claims) or an
Our Services units
ACUITY staff member anywhere in our operation,
provide internal service to
we don’t hide behind voice mail. We listen to you,
all areas of the company to help them do
take responsibility, and help accomplish what needs
to get done.
their jobs as efficiently as possible.
Cross training allows us to share resources
to address peak volumes and fluctuations in
In our Services department, we also follow
the philosophy of “service is everyone’s job” by
BY ANN SCHERMETZLER ,
CPCU - GENERAL MANAGER SERVICES
workloads. It also increases job satisfaction and
creates a culture of teamwork, where people are
willing to chip in to help their colleagues for the
benefit of customers and agents.
If you’re dealing with a company that can’t
deliver consistent service during peak volumes,
where you get stuck in a call-answering system, or
where no one can help you when your regular
contact is out sick, you’re dealing with a
company that doesn’t believe service is a
shared responsibility. We promise that won’t
happen at ACUITY, and we have the track
record to prove it!
It’s easy to see what Safeguard
Insurance thinks of their ACUITY commercial
underwriter! The Las Vegas-based agency presented
Senior Commercial Underwriter Melissa Munger
with a shirt proclaiming her the World’s Best!
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Searching for a
en Bay/Fox Valle
Utah (Salt Lake
Loss Control R
FIND THE FLAGPOLE
Every sports stadium flies an actual American
flag. The picture of the Utah Utes’ stadium on
page 9 of the June !nfocus also featured ACUITY’s
flag. Winners selected from among readers who
spotted the icon are:
Kim Zirges Absolute Advantage Ins Svcs
Jenna Werner The Loomis Company Pat Rath
The Buckner Company Inc
Lake Havasu, AZ
Wyomissing, PA Idaho Falls, ID
To enter this month’s contest, find the hidden elsewhere in this
issue, then send an email with its location to [email protected] by
August 7, 2015. This contest is open to agency staff only.
Q. I read in a recent !nfocus that strains are the
most common work comp injury at manufacturers.
What is the most common injury across all industries?
A. Actually, strains are the most prevalent work comp injury for
all commercial lines, regardless of account size.
Q. What are some of the common causes of strains that businesses can
A. Employees often try to “muscle” a load, causing them to over-reach,
twist, yank, slip, or do other things that cause strain injuries. Help them
work smarter by providing the right equipment, storage space, and tools to
limit the muscle-power required for tasks.
Q. What can I do to help my customers reduce strain injuries?
A. Our loss control reps know what factors contribute to strains
and can help reduce those factors. Talk to them and your
underwriter. Visit the ACUITY Agent Center as well to
access webinars, safety talks, and safety videos.
on the streets was this
enterprising handyman. In addition to having a ladder
bungeed to the back of his scooter—sideways—he also
managed to wedge a toolbox where his feet are supposed
We gladly insure contractors’ vehicles—just not this
contractor, or his vehicle. However, it is our Risk of the
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QUEST FOR KNOWLEDGE DISTINGUISHES
of The Daniel and Henry Co. can be
confident in the service they receive from Sandy Falco.
“Sandy is a true insurance technician,” says
Michael Blumberg, Assistant Vice President
in the agency’s Chicago office. “We
know that our clients are getting
the right information about how
to protect their businesses.
She also has a wonderful,
friendly demeanor that
helps her connect with
Sandy has been with
The Daniel and Henry
Company since 2014 and
has a career in the insurance
industry that spans 25 years.
In her experience, she has found
that knowledge is the most important
component of providing outstanding customer service.
“You have to know the
products of the companies you
represent. I treat every day
as a learning experience,
making it a point to read
every policy form of our
companies so I can answer
questions accurately and put
together the best program for
our clients,” says Sandy, who is
a Commercial Account Manager
and holds the CIC, CRIS, and CISR
Sandy likes the diversity of commercial lines and enjoys
working with her agency colleagues. “We have an excellent
office,” she says. “Our culture is great. Everybody gets along
and is very supportive of their coworkers. This is a great place
to come to work.”
Congratulations to Sandy Falco, Outstanding Service
ACUITY’s Independence Day post
thanking our country and those who defend it
garnered 37,000 views, along with over 600
likes and nearly 150 shares and counting!
To join in the discussion, visit