Big I Members Get Free Access to ACORD Forms (11/26/2019) 

Big I Members Get Free Access to ACORD Forms

First a significant tax cut and now ACORD forms. Your association is constantly working to benefit you where it helps the most: your bottom line.

Beginning January 1, 2020, ACORD will begin charging all users of ACORD forms a fee. Currently, most users of ACORD forms have access via their agency management systems. In light of this development, the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America (IIABA) negotiated an agreement with ACORD whereby your association will pay ACORD an annual fee for use of the forms, and all Big I member agencies with $50 million or less in revenue will have "free" access to the ACORD forms. This is a new and significant benefit for Big I members!

"Industry-standard forms are a critical component of an independent agent's business," said Bob Rusbuldt, Big I president & CEO. "With this licensing program, the Big I is helping our members improve their operational effectiveness. We are proud to play a key role in facilitating the delivery of these assets to our members and to further enhance the value of their Big I membership."

Non-Big I members, at this time, will have to pay fees to ACORD. 

Below is a list of frequently asked questions that you or your staff may have regarding this exciting new member benefit.

What has changed with ACORD form and agent access?

ACORD has been maintaining a complete library of forms for our industry for almost 50 years - They are working through updated agreements with their management system partners. ACORD will be charging new fees for the users of their forms, beginning on January 1, 2020.

How does this affect Big I member agencies?

The Big I has worked to ensure their members are covered and will not incur fees when accessing needed ACORD forms. All Big I members with less than $50 million in revenue will get the forms free as part of their Big I membership.

Does this affect my current agency workflow?

No - Agents will still access forms via their agency management system workflow as they have previously.

How will ACORD know that I am a Big I member agency?

Big I staff is working with ACORD to validate Big I membership through our databases - This validation will be transparent to agency users. 

What if I have questions or need further help?

More background on ACORD Forms is available at, and members can also call ACORD directly at (845) 620-1700.

Read more in a press release from ACORD announcing the partnership with the Big I. If you have questions or need more information, please let me know. Thank you for your continued support and membership in the Indiana Big I.  

 Lemont Receives 2019 Distinguished Customer Service Award (11/12/2019) 

Lemont Receives 2019 Distinguished Customer Service Award

Kathleen Lemont, CIC, ACSR, LOMA, from ONI Risk Partners in Indianapolis, Ind., is the winner of the 2019 Big I Indiana Distinguished Customer Service Award. The award is presented annually in memory of Ethel Heckman, IIAI’s Director of Administration from 1948 to 1983. The criterion of this award recognizes an employee of a member agency who demonstrates loyalty, dedication to the achievement of results, and continued professional growth in the servicing of the agency’s clients. 

Lemont has made her continuing education a priority. She’s earned her CIC, ACSR, and LOMA designations and completed the Indiana Insurance Company Commercial Property and Casualty Agent’s School. She manages the commercial service operations, including claims, surety, and P&C at ONI Risk Partners and has been in the industry for more than 30 years.

Though there are many elements in the insurance industry that are out of an agency’s control, customer service is not one of those. Lemont makes it her goal to go above and beyond with every single client. “In my opinion nothing has a more direct impact on client retention than customer service,” she explained. “Whether it's staying late to make sure an urgent request for a certificate is met, spending your weekend supporting a client who's had a claim, or just making sure everyone you've talked to that day had a positive experience.”


 Held Named 2019 Insurance Professional of the Year (11/12/2019) 

Held Named 2019 Insurance Professional of the Year

Erica Held, CPCU, CIC, from Donegal Insurance Group is the recipient of the 2019 Big I Indiana Insurance Professional of the Year Award. This award recognizes an individual from a Big I associate member organization who demonstrates strong leadership abilities with a willingness to assist independent agents, regularly supports the Big I, and fosters strong professional relationships with agents.

Held has served on the Big I Emerging Leaders Committee for seven years, three of which as the company liaison. She has volunteered with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Indiana, coordinating activities for the Youth of the Year program since 2015. She serves as Donegal’s business relationship manager in Indiana. As the representative of a 130-year-old carrier who recently entered the state, she’s had the opportunity to plan and execute many firsts for Donegal in Indiana, such as the agency forum and agency outing. She’s worked hard to develop strong relationships with agencies. She bridges the gap between producers and underwriters by conducting a weekly call with her commercial underwriter, where they discuss new business flow to help make writing business easier for both sides. The open lines of communication have resulted in her nearly doubling her sales goal for the year.

As Donegal’s only relationship manager in the state, she is the eyes and ears of the company in the ever-changing industry. Held shares her agents’ feedback and concerns directly with the strategic leaders within the company. “I have the best job ever,” Held said. “I have the opportunity to develop meaningful relationships with business owners in my community and help them grow the business they have worked so hard to establish.”


 McEldowney Named 2019 Agent of the Year (11/12/2019) 

McEldowney Named 2019 Agent of the Year

Jason McEldowney

Jason McEldowney, CIC, CRM, AFSB, from Pillar Group Risk Management in Indianapolis, Ind. is the recipient of the 2019 Big I Indiana Agent of the Year Award. The purpose of this award is to recognize the outstanding performance and achievement of an individual who is an agent member of the Independent Insurance Agents of Indiana. This individual must be a licensed agent and contribute to the agency’s performance through production and/or other management activities.

McEldowney is the vice president of Indiana sales with his agency. He believes an independent agent’s role is the pivotal bridge between clients and insurance companies. He strives to understand everything about his clients’ needs and have excellent relationships built with carriers so that he can provide the perfect fit. “The best agents are dedicated to their careers, are loyal and responsive to their clients, and are committed to continuous learning and growing as professionals,” he said. He has made education a priority and has earned three designations. 

Throughout his career, McEldowney has been honored with multiple awards, including Producer of the Year from Diamond Brothers Insurance (of which Pillar Group is a division) and the Gold Award for Excellence from the Indiana Surety Association (ISA). He’s served on the boards of the Construction Financial Management Association and the Indiana Surety Association and committees for Indiana Construction, Inc. and Indiana Subcontractors Association. 


 WalkerHughes Insurance Named 2019 Agency of the Year (11/12/2019) 

WalkerHughes Insurance Named 2019 Agency of the Year


WalkerHughes Insurance, based in Carmel, Ind., has been recognized as the 2019 Big I Indiana Agency of the Year. This award is given to a member independent insurance agency that exemplifies leadership and innovation within the independent agency system.

After its recent merger, WalkerHughes has grown rapidly. The agency has doubled its premium volume in just two years. It now has 17 branches and more than 100 staff members. Though its size has changed, its principles have not. The leadership at WalkerHughes believes that the GAP (Guide, Advocate, Pioneer) policy they have in place is the best way to serve their clients. They work hard to center the agency around those core principles. As they’ve grown, they’ve maintained each branch location because they want their clients to be able to connect with them wherever they are. “We believe in the value of being part of the community in which our clients and employees reside,” said President Doug Walker. The agency leaders strive to give back to the industry, serving on carrier advisory councils and association boards.

Employees are a top priority at the agency and technology is used to “empower and not replace”. The agency built its management system, Violet, that handles CRM functionality, advertising requests, PTO management, secure password retention, and all direct/agency bill processing. “Our focus on our people is at the forefront of our automation efforts as well,” Walker explained. “By automating transactional processes, we enable our people to focus on our customers and other value-added services.”




 Safeco Named 2019 Company of the Year (11/12/2019) 

Safeco Named 2019 Company of the Year 

Safeco's Indiana Team

Safeco Insurance from Indianapolis, Ind. is the 2019 Big I Indiana Company of the Year. This award recognizes the company that demonstrates the strongest commitment to the independent insurance agency system in Indiana.

Safeco has more than 500 Indiana-based employees and they are represented at more than 400 agencies across the state. The company has a national reach but keeps decision-making local. They rely on their territory managers to stay in close contact with the agents in the state so that they have a deep understanding of unique needs. “We never take for granted the trust that independent agents place in us every day,” said AVP, Region Director Jeff Jansing. “Ultimately, we believe in the value the independent agent provides and that influences everything we do as a company.”

Among their many offerings are a producer development program, CSR development program, Bricks & Clicks, Customers for Life, and apps for both agents and customers.  “We understand that high-quality and cost-effective training programs are vital to our agency partners, so we have developed several training and development programs designed to help agencies grow their business,” Jansing said. “These programs are designed to not only grow their business with our company, but to grow their overall agency among all lines and with all carriers.”


 Schultheis Receives 2019 Harry P. Cooper, Jr. Award (11/12/2019) 

Schultheis Receives 2019 Harry P. Cooper, Jr. Award

Brett Schultheis, CPCU, CWCA, AAI, from the Schultheis Insurance Agency in Evansville, Ind., is the recipient of the 2019 Big I Indiana Harry P. Cooper, Jr. Industry Award. This award is presented in the name of Harry P. Cooper, Jr. who began with Indiana Farmers Mutual Insurance Company in 1936 and remained with the company until his death 55 years later, and whose concern for the image of the industry was paramount. This award was developed to recognize someone who enhances the public image of the insurance profession through their professional activities and personal integrity in their business activities and their community. 

Schultheis is the president of his agency and has been deeply invested in the Evansville community for decades. He’s served on the Raintree Girl Scout Council in some capacity since 1988. He’s also served on the Buffalo Trace Council - Boy Scouts, Evansville Day School, Inc., Vanderburgh Co. Redevelopment Commission, and Tri-State Better Business Bureau. He is currently the national director of the Indiana Big I as well.

He sees an insurance agents’ position in their communities as a vital one. “Agents play an important role in the continuity and strength of all communities. Part of what an agent should do is be a teacher or adviser in the community to help others understand that insurance is not about how low a price can be, but rather how it can work as a tool for their benefit,” he explained. “They need to explain the important role that the insurance industry plays in the local and national economy.”




 Watts Named 2019 Emerging Leader of the Year (11/12/2019) 

Watts Named 2019 Emerging Leader of the Year

Sam Watts, CIC, MLIS, from NAMIC Insurance Agency in Indianapolis, Ind. is the recipient of the 2019 Big I Indiana Emerging Leader of the Year Award. This award recognizes the involvement and commitment of a Big I member licensed retail agent who qualifies as an Emerging Leader, (a licensed producer under the age of 41 or in the insurance industry for fewer than 6 years), and recognizes his or her commitment to the Indiana Emerging Leaders Committee and the parent association Big I, and his or her strong performance in the industry.

Watts is the director of operations at NAMIC and manages six team members. He is currently the past-chair of the Indiana Big I Emerging Leaders Committee and served as its chair in 2017 and 2018. Although he leverages technology to benefit his agency, he also thinks there are timeless tools any agent can use. “Dedication, diligence, persistence, and perseverance are characteristics of success at any age, experience level, or climate,” he said. “I hold that a new agent learning and applying these skills, especially in the first two years, would help lay the foundation for future success.”

He believes one hurdle many agents face when they enter the industry is being perceived as not having enough knowledge and experience. He encourages agents to establish credibility by "knowing the market, understanding a prospect’s risks and exposures, and being able to provide solution-oriented products to meet the prospect's coverage needs.” To accomplish that, he suggests continuing your industry education. “I think earning designations emphasizes these abilities and displays a committed work ethic toward a better understanding of policies and risk management,” Watts said.



 New CIC and CRM Designees (6/15/2019) 

New CIC and CRM Designees

The National Alliance conferred the Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) or Certified Risk Managers (CRM) designations on the following individuals. The IIAI would like to congratulate the new designees on their achievement.

CIC Designees 

Ms. Jessica Ann Aldridge, CIC

Erie Insurance


Mr. Eric Richmond, CIC, ARM

The Hanover Insurance Group


Mr. Gregory Weisner, CIC

Cincinnati Insurance



CRM Designees

Mr. Brandon J. Nettrouer, CRM

Gibson Insurance


 IDOI Licensing Exam Changes (6/1/2019) 

IDOI Licensing Exam Changes

By Randall Evans, Deputy Commissioner Indiana Department of Insurance

Randall EvansThe Indiana Department of Insurance (IDOI) provides licenses for over 198,500 individual agents with an average of 600 new resident producer licenses issued each month. As a requirement of insurance producer licensing, most applicants are required to complete an applicable pre-licensing course and pass a corresponding state producer licensing exam before a license is approved and issued by the IDOI.

Although there are a number of approved education providers offering pre-licensing courses in classroom or online settings, the IDOI contracts with a single vendor to administer and maintain its 12 producer licensing exams. Effective May 30, 2019, Pearson Vue (PV) has become the new exam vendor for the IDOI. PV has over 80 years of experience in education and testing, with over 33 years of experience in the insurance industry. PV works with 25 jurisdictions of state departments of insurance to write, administer, and maintain insurance exam data. PV has been a state approved vendor in Indiana for over 30 years with nearly 1000 employees state-wide, providing exam services and support to the Professional Licensing Agency.

Pearson Vue was introduced at the 2019 IDOI Industry Day. The event was free and open to education providers and insurance producers interested in learning more about PV and the changes pertaining to the new vendor. Some of those changes include: reduced exam fees, increased number of test center locations, expanded testing hours and added seating capacity. IDOI licensing exams will continue to be offered at Ivy Tech College locations, in addition to six PV owned test centers, expanding in-state test center availability from 29 locations to 35. Additionally, 21 test centers in neighboring states will be accessible for Indiana producer license exams allowing Indiana producers who live in border cities more availability and convenience for scheduling, while driving shorter distances to sit for exams.

PV also affords military service members and veterans the opportunity to take state producer insurance exams at 130 designated military bases and installations across the U.S and abroad. This service will allow military service members preparing to retire or rotate back to civilian life to get a head start to re-enter the workforce.

PV has published an Indiana examination handbook and provides live online-chat services for test scheduling assistance. Candidates can also view scheduling availability prior to making payment. 

PV began exam registration on its website via an IDOI landing page for dates on or after May 30, 2019. The prior vendor, Performance Assessment Network (PAN) began blocking registration for exam dates after May 29, 2019.  Candidates who prepaid PAN exam registration fees but did not schedule an exam by May 29, 2019 will receive a refund for their registration fee. Refunds will be processed and mailed to the registrant and address used during preregistration. However, a candidate that was a “no-show” for a scheduled exam will not receive a refund.

If you have questions, please visit or call 317-232-2385. Also, be sure to bookmark the Agency Services Important Notices webpage at, and connect with the Department on Facebook or Twitter.



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