Interview by Eric Jenks, Special to Agri-Services Agency
From our initial on-farm visit to interactive training and enrollment meetings – Agri-Services Agency offers accessible and personalized support for each unique operation. With 24/7 customer service, we are there to help. Julia Newman, who leads our service center shared about her passion for management, connectivity and problem solving with Morning AgClips. Read below for the full article.
With agents across the country and a 24/7 service center, Agri-Services Agency's employees help find solutions for their customers every day of the week. “I love our customers,” said Director of ASA Sales and Service Center Julia Newman. “We work for some of the nicest people in the world. They’re hardworking, nice and grateful for the help that we give them.”
A focus for Newman and the service center team is problem solving. “I like finding solutions to bring affordable care to them, their employees and their agribusiness,” said Newman. “If they need health insurance, worker’s comp, a whole farm package; I want to connect them to the right person. We offer 24/7 customer service. They never get voicemail. They will always get a live person. We’ve returned calls on a Saturday night for a tractor fire, as well as for someone at the hospital that needs an ID card to get treatment. There’s a lot that we offer that builds our relationship with our clients throughout the year. We’re always here to help.”
Newman has a passion for management and professional development. She likes to help staff excel at what they do and help them find solutions. “I oversee a staff of licensed agents that can sell life, health, Medicare, individual and group health plans across the country. Personally, I’m the key account manager for large employer groups. I make sure that they’re meeting compliance requirements for ACA and the US Department of Labor, such as getting mandated employee notices sent out so that they can get them to their employees in a timely fashion.”
Newman joined ASA 10 years ago, after working as an operations manager for a veterinary company for 26 years. “I am originally from Athens, Pa., where the service center is located,” said Newman. “We had an opportunity to move home when my husband retired, and this was a perfect job opportunity for me. It was definitely a learning process to change careers, but at the end of the day, it was still an operations position, so I felt right at home.”
As with any new position, Newman found challenges to overcome for ASA customers. “Soon after I started working here, ACA was enacted in 2014, and businesses were required (50 or more employees, though some states are 100 and over) to carry health insurance for their employees,” said Newman. “We were able to find solutions to install essential coverage plans to help agribusinesses avoid fines and penalties, and provide good coverage at the same time.”
ASA works with operations of all sizes, from businesses with one or more employees to sole proprietors. “Most recently, we had a smaller group that just didn’t understand the rules of health insurance and needed more guidance on what to offer and what programs they can install for their group,” said Newman. “We sat down and met with them and explained what they currently have in place. Then we went over the available options, and how to implement the best coverage for their employees at the best price. We hadn’t talked often in the past because they were happy and just kept renewing their old policy. After reaching out and asking what we could do to make it better for them however, we found new options that were even better than their old policy.”
Not all service questions have to do with changing an everyday policy for clients, however. “We had a customer recently who was leaving the next day to go out of the country, and needed to get a global coverage policy in place due to medical issues,” said Newman. “One of our service agents worked late into the night and got back to it early in the morning to make sure that they had the coverage they needed before they left the country. We do our best to go above and beyond to make sure that our customers have what they need, and they were so grateful since there were health issues involved.”
Educating customers about mandatory notices, regulations and renewals is another role that Newman and her staff take on. “We try and start renewal or a new policy at least 120 days ahead of time, so that we have all the information that we need,” said Newman. “We want to know if customers like their current coverage and if not, we’ll work on a solution that fits them better. Keeping ourselves updated on current insurance trends and changes, as well as new regulations is something that we work hard on to help our customers. We send newsletters out about any changes in insurance that may affect our customers. We’ll also send alerts if there is an immediate call to action. Certain notices need to go to employees on a regular basis. We want to make sure that they understand what those notices are, and to get them those notices promptly. We have a product called HR360; it’s a human resources program where the employer can go in and find information on workers comp, state rules and regs, human resources issues, safety posters, and more. It’s a really nice resource and offered at no additional cost.”
As agricultural insurance experts, ASA make sure agribusiness owners understand what you are buying, and offer full-service claims management, nationwide coverage, innovative solutions and 24/7 customer service to get you the coverage you need.