OIA Welcomes Ashley Fitzsimmons to Customer Experience Role

GAHANNA, OH - Ohio Insurance Agents Association is excited to announce that Ashley Fitzsimmons has joined the association as their Customer Experience Manager.

Growing OIA’s vision to be a “change agent for agent change,” Fitzsimmons has a goal to lead the association’s initiatives to build and develop networks among agents, specifically the OIA’s new Peer Exchange Groups.

“Ashley is a connector. She has an energy and aura about her that will bring agencies together in our peer exchange groups to help them grow and improve their performance,” says OIA CEO Jeff Smith, JD, CIC, CAE.

“It truly takes a special breed to be an independent agent. Independent Agents are superheroes. They protect. They save. Look no further than the many natural disasters we are experiencing across this country and you see how independent agents help put people’s lives back together” Fitzsimmons says.  

”Having been an independent agent for nine years, I have a deep understanding for the speed bumps and roadblocks they can typically run into. I’d like to think there is no such thing as a problem, only an opportunity. And I am so excited to have the opportunity to work with independent agents in Ohio and help them strengthen their superhero powers and tear down those roadblocks.”

Fitzsimmons shares OIA’s passion and vision for independent agents and the IA system. Her experience working as a Producer with Fitzsimmons Insurance, a small independent insurance agency in Forest City, Pennsylvania, will equip her with the background and knowledge to make a big impact on the broader IA system. In her role with the agency, she implemented many technology features to modernize the customer experience and create relationships with other Next Generation agency leaders.

“One of the biggest things I’m hoping to accomplish with OIA is attracting new talent into the industry. Insurance is affectionately referred to as pale, male and stale. That changes now” Fitzsimmons says. “With the help of the OIA team, I know we can change this stereotype and show younger generations why insurance is the place to be and how you can make a difference in people’s lives in this profession. I’m looking forward to integrating into an incredible team that is changing this amazing industry for the better one day at a time.”

Fitzsimmons will join the OIA team at the beginning of 2019.

About Ohio Insurance Agents Association

Ohio Insurance Agents Association (OIA) is the collective voice of 1,300 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. OIA helps agents grow their agencies and improve their performance by providing agency valuation, succession planning, generational health, operational benchmarking reports, peer exchange groups, other business solutions and industry thought leadership.

Ohio Midterm Election Results

Yesterday’s election generated great interest among voters, with voter turnout at 54.3%, the highest for a gubernatorial election year since 1994. 

Statewide Offices

The public polls were once again wrong leading into yesterday’s election. Many anticipated that the Democrats could pick up some statewide offices, including that of governor. Instead, Republicans swept all the statewide executive offices.

Mike DeWine (R) defeated Richard Cordray (D) 50.66% - 46.45%       

Attorney General
Dave Yost (R) defeated Steve Dettelbach (D) 52.42% - 47.58%            

Auditor of State
Keith Faber (R) defeated Zach Space (D) 49.93% - 46.06%                  

Secretary of State
Frank LaRose (R) defeated Kathleen Clyde (D) 50.92% - 46.73%

Treasurer of State*
Robert Sprague (R) defeated Rob Richardson (D) 53.53% - 46.47%    

What this means for OIA: The next leaders of the Ohio Department of Insurance and the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation will be picked by the DeWine/Husted team. This team’s business-friendly approach should result in sound picks for both state agencies.

Also of note is that DeWine, Faber and LaRose will play key roles following the 2020 census when Ohio draws new maps for Congressional and Statehouse districts that will last for a decade. While Ohio recently passed redistricting reform, the governor, secretary of state and auditor will still sit on the redistricting commission that draws the Statehouse districts and also may engage in the Congressional mapping if needed.

Ohio Supreme Court

Judge Melody Stewart defeated Justice Mary DeGenaro 53-47% and Judge Michael Donnelly beat Judge Craig Baldwin 61-39%. Unfortunately, DeGenaro and Baldwin failed to benefit from the momentum the Republicans had, as voter drop off in these races was high, with more than 900,000 Ohioans skipping these races. The makeup of the court beginning in January will be 5-2, which will quite possibly result in more split decisions and could impact which cases the Court chooses to accept and which cases it rejects. Furthermore, with two seats lost this election, the 2020 election takes on increased importance as two seats will be up for election on the Court, and should Justices French and Kennedy fail to retain their seats, the philosophical makeup of the Court could be dramatically altered to be more activist in nature.   

Ohio House of Representatives

All 99 seats for the Ohio House were on the ballot.  At this point, it looks like the Democrats likely picked up four seats. This would reduce the Republican majority in the House to 62-37. Of significance here is that the House Republicans supermajority (which carries with it veto override authority) remains intact.

Ohio Senate

The Senate Republicans likely picked up another seat, further strengthening their veto proof supermajority. Heading into next year, the Republicans will control 25 of the states 33 senate districts.

OIA PAC Results

This year, OIA PAC contributed just under $57,000 to candidates, with a significant amount of this going to statewide candidates (just under $30,000). Overall, OIA PAC supported 37 candidates this year. Of these candidates, 30 won their races and seven lost. 

With the election now over, legislators will be getting back to work in what is anticipated to be an extremely busy lame duck session.  Look for more information to come on legislative activity that is likely to take place in the coming weeks as the year winds down.


As always, don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions!

Medical marijuana and its impact on Ohio workers' comp

With the upcoming implementation of medical marijuana in Ohio, you and your commercial clients may be wondering what impact, if any, this change will have on the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) and its programs? BWC recently put together a fact sheet with information to help you understand the impact that this change will have on Ohio workers’ comp.

What does Ohio's medical marijuana law say?

In 2016, the Ohio General Assembly set up the framework to legalize medical marijuana in Ohio, effective Sept. 8, 2018.

It was approved for certain medical conditions, including pain that is either chronic and severe or intractable, PTSD, and traumatic brain injuries.

At this time, the only legal forms of medical marijuana will be edibles, oils, patches, plant material and tinctures. Vaporization is permitted. It cannot be smoked or combusted. Home growth is prohibited.

The Ohio Department of Commerce is tasked with regulating the licensure of medical marijuana cultivators and processors, as well as the laboratories that test medical marijuana. The state of Ohio Board of Pharmacy will license retail dispensaries and register patients and their caregivers.

Additionally, the State Medical Board of Ohio will regulate physicians’ requirements and procedures for applying for and maintaining certificates to recommend medical marijuana and maintain the list of conditions for which medical marijuana can be recommended.

What is the impact on the new law on the Ohio BWC?

The impact of the new law on BWC and its programs is limited.

It does not adversely affect the Drug-free Safety Program, will not require BWC to pay for patient access to marijuana, and expressly states that an employee whose injury was the result of being intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana is not eligible for workers’ compensation.


  1. Nothing in the law requires an employer to accommodate an employee’s use of medical marijuana.

  2. The law does NOT prohibit an employer from refusing to hire, discharging, or taking an adverse employment action because of a person’s use of medical marijuana.

  3. The law specifies that marijuana is covered under “rebuttable presumption.” In general, this means that an employee whose injury was the result of being intoxicated or under the influence of marijuana is not eligible for workers’ compensation. This is the case regardless of whether the marijuana use is recommended by a physician.

  4. While the law does not specifically address reimbursement for medical marijuana recommended for injured workers, Ohio law already has rules and statutes in place that limit what medications are reimbursable by BWC.

    • Administrative code provides that drugs covered by BWC are limited to those that are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration. Marijuana has not been approved by the FDA and remains a Schedule I illegal drug under federal law.

    • BWC-funded prescriptions must be dispensed by a registered pharmacist from an enrolled provider. Medical marijuana will be dispensed from retail marijuana dispensaries, not from enrolled pharmacies.

    • BWC only reimburses drugs that are on its pharmaceutical formulary, which is a complete list of medications approved for reimbursement by BWC. Drugs not on the list are not eligible for reimbursement, and under BWC’s current rules, it cannot be included in the formulary, nor is it otherwise eligible for reimbursement.

What can employers do?

If you have not done so already, the best way employers can protect their workers and themselves is to establish a drug-free workplace, or, if they already have one, to review and update it if necessary.

This is important because certain sections of the new law reference the use of medical marijuana in violation of an employer’s drug-free workplace policy, zero-tolerance policy or other formal program or policy regulating the use of medical marijuana.

For what this means to your specific workplace, consult your human resources or legal department.

View BWC fact sheet

Changes coming to 2019 CIC institute format

Certified Insurance Counselor designation logoWe have great news about changes coming to next year’s CIC institute offerings!

If you’re a CIC designation holder, you’ll only have to attend two days of instruction to obtain an update on your CIC designation in 2019. This saves you time out of the office and the expense of a hotel room for an additional night.

For those pursuing a CIC designation, you’ll no longer have to cram both instruction and test-taking into the third day. In the 2019 institutes, you’ll experience two full days of instruction, with just your exam taking place on the third morning. In order for the institute to count toward your designation, you still must attend the third morning to complete (and pass) the test.

As a result of this change, 2019 CIC institutes will now be offered for 16 credit hours of continuing education per institute instead of 20. This is the same amount currently offered in the James K. Ruble Graduate Seminars.

Please note: these changes take effect in the December 2018 CIC Company Operations institute, as well as all of the 2019 institutes. The rest of the 2018 institutes remain in the traditional three-day format.

More good news

We have released the 2019 CIC institutes schedule and are accepting registrations!

These institutes are popular and book up fast, so check out the calendar or click on a title below to secure your spot!

2019 Ohio CIC Institute Schedule

Have questions about our education programs?

Contact Sam

Ohio's 2018 Outstanding CSR of the Year award winner announced

2018 Outstanding CISR of the Year logoAUSTIN, TX – Each year, a group of exceptional insurance professionals are chosen by The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research to represent their states and compete to become the National Outstanding CSR of the Year.

This prestigious award, regarded as the foremost national award of its kind, recognizes the contributions and commitment of those who serve clients within the insurance industry.

To qualify for the top state honor, the 2018 candidates submitted an essay on the following topic:

“In today’s business environment, CSRs are finding that more work is required from a smaller staff pool. As a CSR, what four ways have you found beneficial in helping you accomplish work tasks while still providing excellent customer service? In short, how do you do more with less?”

Additionally, entrants must have demonstrated commendable service to their agencies, their industry, and their community. The only eligibility requirement for this award is that the candidate must be an insurance customer service representative or have primary responsibility for insurance customer service duties.

“The Outstanding CSR of the Year Award recognizes the annual exemplar for exceptional customer service representatives across the nation,” said Danielle Janecka, Senior Vice President of The National Alliance.

“Through their essays, contributions to their agencies, and their letters of recommendation, every one of the state winners helps to raise the standard for personal and professional excellence. We honor them for their clear contributions to their colleagues, teams, and organizations. They are the face of customer service for our whole industry.”

Each state winner receives a framed certificate and is eligible to compete for the national honor, which carries a $2,000 cash award, a gold and diamond pin, $1,000 cash award for the nominator, and a scholarship for the recipient’s employer to any program offered by The National Alliance.

Additionally, the name of the Outstanding CSR of the Year is inscribed on a sculpture permanently displayed at the national headquarters of The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research in Austin, Texas.

State Winners:

State Name Agency
Arizona Kathleen A. Dragan Hill Insurance Services, LLC
California Jenny Chea-Vaing, CISR Singlepoint Insurance Services, Inc.
Delaware Maria T. Metcalfe, CISR Bellevue Insurance Services, LLC
Florida Catrin Liffner Beck Partners Insurance
Illinois Sara K. Mancini, CISR Elite, AIS Market Financial Group, Ltd, a division of
Arthur J. Gallagher
Indiana Amanda Stoller Ovation Insurance
Iowa Jeremy Smith, CIC, CISR The Accel Group
Kansas Kimberly Andersen, CISR J. Goodman Insurance Agency
Kentucky Brandy Marcum Market Finders Insurance Corporation
Louisiana Kristen G. Fligg, CISR Amerisafe
Maine Lori Duval F.A. Peabody Company
Maryland Gregory A. Clem HUB International Mid-Atlantic, Inc.
Michigan Brian St. Charles, CISR Michigan Community Insurance Agency
Minnesota Starr L. Marshall, CISR Reliable Agency
Mississippi Laura A. Freeman, CISR Fisher Brown Bottrell Insurance, Inc.
Nebraska Michele Koehler, CISR Integrity Insurance Group
North Carolina Teresa P. Gedraytis, CIC, CISR James E. Moore Insurance Agency, Inc.
Ohio Beth Ann Mitchell Lauber & Will Insurance Agency
Oregon Kendall I. Pori, CIC Protectors Insurance, LLC
Pennsylvania Ashley M. Fitzsimmons, CISR Fitzsimmons Insurance Agency, Inc.
South Carolina Anna M. Kocuba, CISR Kinghorn Insurance of Beaufort
Tennessee Elizabeth A. Wilkins Martin & Zerfoss Insurance
Texas Linda M. Dailey Insurance Partners/SWBC
Utah Stephanie Holden, CISR, CPSR SentryWest Insurance Services
Vermont Katie LaFreniere, CISR Crowley Insurance Agency
Washington Amy Hayes Duncan & Associates, Inc.
Wisconsin Stacey M. Migliano, CISR The Trottier Insurance Group
Wyoming Cindy Gerhold HUB International

The National Alliance for Insurance Education & Research, the nation’s premier provider of advanced educational opportunities for insurance and risk management professionals, includes the Certified Insurance Counselors (CIC) Program, the Certified Risk Managers (CRM) Program, the Certified Insurance Service Representatives (CISR) Program, the Certified Personal Risk Managers Program (CPRM), the Certified School Risk Managers (CSRM) Program, the Dynamics Sales Training Series, the School for Producer Development, and The National Alliance Research Academy.

For further information, contact:

The National Alliance
P.O. Box 27027
Austin, Texas 78755-2027
phone: (800) 633-2165
website: TheNationalAlliance.com

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