Recognition Matters – Award Winners

In light of the pandemic, OIA decided to cancel our in-person awards ceremony that is normally held at the end of the year to honor the incredible achievements of our members. Instead, we’ve launched our Recognition Matters campaign which we hope will inspire our members and elevate the public appreciation of how professional and essential IA’s are. Our members always achieve extraordinary things every year and we want to recognize those achievements through a wide variety of prestigious awards.

Recognition Matters celebrates and gives thanks to OIA volunteers, past leaders, those who give to their communities, and those that excel in promoting the independent agency channel.  While awards may be given to an individual, in their entirety they enhance the standing of all IA’s to the consumer and the companies they represent.  Awards promote the knowledge, integrity, professionalism and community service of the IA.

OIA awards recognize independent agents and companies by:

  • Setting them apart from their competitors
  • Positioning them as leaders in Ohio’s insurance industry
  • Instilling pride in our members
  • Spotlighting our members’ capabilities and achievements
  • Reminds members and Ohio communities of OIA members’ commitment to excellence
  • Generates positive media coverage for Ohio independent agents
  • Aspires members and staff

Selecting award recipients is a task of the Governance Committee, and it’s not easy.  Each year, the committee receives several nominations to consider and must select one winner for the award. Occasionally, there will be a tie but, in most instances, they select one among many excellent nominations.

Over the past few weeks, we have been highlighting the nominees for this year’s prestigious OIA awards and have announced the winners below. Thank you to everyone who nominated others, our nominees, and congratulations to the winners!

Best Agency Video Award

The Best Agency Video Award was developed in 2019 to recognize an agency that excels in using video to explain the value of independent agents and tell the story of their agency.  The criteria for judging are that the video is creative, captivating, and memorable.  The winner receives a $250 gift card to Best Buy.

Below are the 2020 nominations with a link to their video.

  1. coverlink #1 – WINNER
  1. coverlink #2
  1. Hitchings Insurance Agency, Inc.
  1. O’Neill Insurance Agency, Inc.
  1. Phelan Insurance Agency
  1. Steadfast Insurance
  1. Steele Insurance Agency #1
  1. Steele Insurance Agency #2
  1. Strachan Novak Insurance

The winner of this award is coverlink #1!

Past Winners:

Elliott Insurance Agency’s award-winning video celebrated the agency’s family heritage, rich history and involvement in the Springfield community. The video shares the story of the agency in a humorous, creative way, all in under a minute. The numerous compliments and positive comments under the video on the agency’s Facebook page underscore just how impactful the video has been to the agency’s marketing efforts.

OIA was proud to present Elliott Insurance Agency with the 2019 Best Agency Video Award and congratulate the team for setting the standard in independent agency video marketing.


Outstanding Customer Service Representative of the Year

The Outstanding CSR of the Year award® is open to any insurance customer service representative or an insurance professional primarily responsible for customer service.  The prestigious award was established in 1991 and is sponsored by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research. It recognizes insurance customer service representatives who are exceptional at what they do; those who stand apart for their leadership capabilities and the consistently high quality of service they deliver.

Upon receipt of entry materials, nominees are entered in a state-level competition. Winners at this level become eligible for the national award—an honor that carries national recognition in industry trade publications along with a $2,000 cash award, a $1,000 cash award for your nominator, a gold and diamond pin, and a scholarship for your employer to any National Alliance program.

Nomination submissions must include the entry form, two letters of recommendation from professional references, and a 500 to 1000-word essay on the topic of:  “Given changes in technology, the consolidation of agencies and societal influences, discuss four ways your clients’ expectations have changed in the last 5 years and the two most important changes you expect to see in customer service in the next 5 years?”

Ohio received three excellent nominations for this award.  Below are their names and a link to their essay.

  1. Noelle Boyd, Oswald Companies, Cleveland
  1. Carrie Daly, Fifth Third Insurance Agency, Cincinnati
  1. Reuben Hall, Oswald Companies, Cleveland – WINNER

The winner of this award is Reuben Hall!

Outstanding Company Achievement/Eagle Award

The Eagle Award honors a company that has demonstrated outstanding achievement and superior performance in a specific area such as leadership, innovation, technology, perpetuation and/or customer service for the betterment of the independent agency system.

Below are the 2020 nominations and a link to the rationale for both nominations.

  1. Erie Insurance, Erie, PA
  1. Progressive Insurance, Mayfield Village OH – WINNER

The winner of this award is Progressive Insurance! 

Independence Bell Award/Industry Person of the Year

The Independence Bell Award honors an individual who have significantly contributed to the betterment of the independent agency system and/or OIA. Honorees may be chosen from any field and are not limited to those within the insurance industry.

Below are the 2020 nominations and a link to the rationale for each nomination.

  1. Tim Able, Seibert Keck, Fairlawn
  1. Jillian Froment, Director of the Department of Insurance, State of Ohio
  1. Bill Purmort, Central Insurance, Van Wert
  1. Matt Simon, CoverLink, Bellefontaine – WINNER

The winner of this award is Matt Simon!

Excellence in Leadership

The Excellence in Leadership Award honors an OIA volunteer who has provided outstanding leadership and service to the association in the preceding year.

Below are the 2020 nominees.

  1. Brent Phelan, CIC, CPCU, CRM, CSRM, Phelan Insurance Agency, Inc., Versailles – WINNER

Nominated by:  Jeannine Giesler, CISR, CPIA

Brent helped lead the review of the first technology investment for OIA.  Serving on the review committee, he assisted in the selection of a firm to vet and report on the strength and viability of the investment. After the firm selection, the work-study processes began, with multiple meetings held to establish baselines and questions to culminate and share findings with the board for a decision and next steps. Then using this information to create a strategy and format guidelines for the Finance and Budget Committee to use for future investment reviews.

Brent is currently serving as an OIA Board Member and leads the Finance and Budget Committee. He is active in Advocacy and legislation to support the Independent Agency System. He has participated in multiple State and National events relaying to our Legislators, Senators, and Representatives, the importance of laws and regulations, and the effects and repercussions these can have on consumers and independent insurance agents.

Brent has shown his commitment to lifelong learning by attaining several insurance industry designations and volunteering as a leader for OIA. He is active in his community, engaged in the industry and an advocate for the independent agent.

The winner of this award is Brent Phelan!

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors an individual for their outstanding leadership contributions to the association, the independent agency system, and community. Body of work and longevity are taken into consideration. Nominees may be retired. Award may be given posthumously.

Below are the 2020 award nominees and a link to rationale for each nominee.

  1. Jane Danduran, CIC, Danduran & Associates Insurance Agency, Columbus
  1. Jeannine Giesler, CISR, CPIA -WINNER
  1. Angela Kurlich
  1. Marv Pearce, Jr.
  1. Perk Reichley, Reichley Insurance Agency, Beavercreek – WINNER

The winners of this award are Jeannine Giesler and Perk Reichley!

Community Service Award

Honors an independent insurance agent or agency that has provided extraordinary service within their local community defined by:

  1. Overall contribution (funds raised, people helped, volunteerism, etc.) to their community service project and/or initiative, and the positive impact (both short-term and long-term) that their efforts have made toward their community service project.
  2. Demonstration of commitment to their communities by going above and beyond in volunteering time and enthusiasm to causes close to their heart.

The winner’s charity receives a $2,500 donation from OIA.

Below are the 2020 nominees and a link to the rationale for each nominee.

  1. Adam Hengst, Carmargo Insurance Agency, Cincinnati
  1. Hitchings Insurance Agency Inc., Findlay
  1. Ryan Pessell, Hitchings Insurance Agency, Findlay
  1. O’Neill Insurance Agency Inc., Wadsworth – WINNER
  1. Phelan Insurance Agency, Versailles

The winner of this award is O’Neill Insurance Agency Inc.!

OIA Citations

OIA recognition of others who have made contributions to the association.  For example:  Committee or Task Force chairmen or members who has made a significant contribution, OAPAC donors, company representatives, insurance industry representatives.

Below are the 2020 nominees and a link to the rationale for each nominee.

  1. Madelyn Flannagan, Vice President, Agent Development, Education and Research at IIABA, Alexandria
  1. Jillian Froment, Ohio Department of Insurance, Columbus – WINNER
  1. Whitnee Dillard, Director of Diversity & Inclusion at IIABA, Alexandria, VA – WINNER
  1. F.W. (Bill) Purmort, Central Mutual Insurance Company, Van Wert – WINNER
  1. William (Bill) Mitchell, CIC, CPCU, ARM, WE Davis Insurance Agency, Columbus

The winners of this award are Jillian Froment, Whitnee Dillard, and F.W. (Bill) Purmont!

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