ACN Chapter Chats: Kristin Thelen of Mason Insurance
| Connections Editor | Apr 29 2020
In the midst of a global pandemic, Applied Client Network (ACN) has helped thousands of insurance professionals stay connected. Among those professionals is Kristin Thelen of Mason Insurance Agency who presides over ACN’s Michigan chapter. ACN spoke with Kristin about her experience as president of the Michigan chapter and how she has taken it upon herself to ensure others can continue to deliver excellent service in this uncertain time.
Connections: What was the motivation behind you assuming your role as president?
Kristin: My introduction to ACN chapters, in general, was a little unique. I had attended an Epic user group meeting, and around that time, the Michigan chapter board had disbanded. From an Epic standpoint, we didn’t really feel there was enough representation in the state. I essentially was recruited. I spoke up at the meeting, talked a lot about Epic, and the next thing you know I was applying to be a chapter officer. I filled out the application and ended up fulfilling the VP role. So, while I didn’t go searching for a board position, once I was seated I ended up loving everything about it.
Once we got the board rolling, we started thriving and holding meetings. I developed close relationships with Applied Michigan sales reps. I started consulting with agencies on Epic usage and capabilities, and then when the term expired, I assumed the presidency by default. It just sort of landed in my lap, and I’m really grateful that it did. I can’t say enough about what I’ve learned since becoming an officer.
Connections: What does a typical day look like for you as president of the Michigan chapter?
Kristin: Day-to-day is a lot of Q&A. When we get new members, I send out an email to new members as a "welcome". We, as a board, really make ourselves available to members to provide them with support. A lot of the time we serve as a buffer between the user and Applied Systems. Within Michigan, a lot of agencies are migrating over to Epic from TAM, so I’ve been working with these agencies to help them make a successful transition.
Connections: As president, how have you mitigated the effects of COVID-19 among both chapter members and those within your company?
Kristin: I think our industry is pretty fluid as far as working conditions go. ACN has sent out a lot of helpful tips about remote working. I’ve received a lot of communications about how to make sure the agency is running at a productive level similar to that before COVID-19. Obviously we’ve received inquiries about future meetings and what the implications are as far as education goes. We make sure to direct members to ACN’s webinars. I think the shift from in-person to virtual has been the biggest change, but I don’t think we’ve slowed down or skipped a beat as far offerings to our members.
Connections: COVID-19 has become a major disruptor in the way people conduct business, forcing people to navigate the challenges of remote work. How have you as a chapter president proceeded to motivate other ACN members to continue meeting goals and delivering services to customers?
Kristin: I think providing them with the tools to help them adapt to the changes is important. The resources provided to them and the ongoing support of letting them know we’re still here to answer questions helps them understand that they are not alone and that other agencies have adapted to keep their business running. It keeps their mind at ease and shows them that it can be done. I’ve also been using agency feedback from across the state to help other agencies navigating this current situation.
Connections: What has the uptick looked like with regard to disaster insurance and business coverage in general?
Kristin: We’ve definitely been receiving, from a commercial standpoint, inquiries about losses of business coverage. As it stands, coverage for loss of business does not currently exist. We’ve had to manage quite a few tough conversations. I know President Trump held a press conference to push insurance carriers to respond to this crisis. At this point there really isn’t a response. I think they’re doing everything they can. They’ve extended due dates, they’re waiving late fees, and they’re not canceling policies if payment doesn’t come in on time. I really think they’re doing everything they can to accommodate unique situations as they arise. They’re definitely working with everybody. We understand that this is a very difficult time.
Connections: Has COVID-19 fostered a greater sense of community among members of the Michigan chapter and those within Mason Insurance?
Kristin: Absolutely. In times like these, everyone is scared. So, coming together in your local community, the insurance community, or the ACN community, talking to others and seeing that they’re thriving reminds people that they’re not alone. Between agencies and users, I think there is a lot more communication and brainstorming to figure out how we can get through this together. Agencies aren’t operating independently of one another. That’s a very nice feeling, I think. It really shows that when we band together, we’ll be OK.
Kristin started her insurance career in 1995 as an intern in personal lines. In 1998, she obtained her P&C license and continued working in personal lines through college. Once she graduated college with a Bachelor of Arts degree, she continued in insurance and obtained her CISR designation, CIC designation, and CAWC designation. She transitioned into commercial lines in 2005. Her responsibilities have ranged from processor to account manager to department manager. In addition to working in the agency, she currently holds the Applied Client Network Michigan Chapter President position and is an education committee member for Applied Net. She enjoys training and teaching others how to streamline their processes and optimize their production.
Tags: Insurance , Commentary , COVID-19 , Chapter Profile