Andrea Lockridge – Cameron Mutual Insurance
There’s a lot of risk in running a farm. With large animals and heavy machinery, the possibility of an employee getting hurt or equipment breaking is high. If an owner doesn’t have good insurance and there’s an accident, they could lose everything.
Andrea Lockridge says she doesn’t want any farmer to go through that. The general counsel at Cameron Mutual Insurance has helped expand products and coverage types to be more comprehensive, covering everything from livestock and barns to tools and equipment .
“Farmers have a lot going on and are exposed in many ways,” she says. “We want to offer coverage that meets each farmer’s unique needs. We want to offer the best for our customers while staying competitive in the marketplace.”
Covering all the bases
Based in Cameron, Missouri, the business provides property and casualty insurance with a focus on small commercial, farm and personal lines.
In updating its products, Cameron is looking to expand coverage in some areas. With farm insurance, for example, the company is expanding property coverage and liability insurance, which has required Lockridge to assist with updates to form portfolios. She says this ensures the products are tailored to the needs of each territory and agency, since Cameron works with independent agents.
Through this growth, Lockridge is ensuring Cameron continues to offer personalized service. This means when someone calls Cameron, for instance, they’ll reach an agent they’ve worked with before who is familiar with their policy.
It also means when an agent calls with a question, they get their own underwriter on the phone instead of someone from an underwriting pool that doesn’t know them.
The shift in focus has also necessitated a change in internal systems. Lockridge is part of a committee that’s initiated moving the policy, billing and claims systems to the cloud. She’s also helped to standardize contracts and request-for-proposals processes, and she is on a committee that identifies enterprise risks and categorizes them by level, severity and frequency.
“We’re making sure we understand the trends so we’re more proactive about managing the business than reactive,” she says.
Lockridge has been proactive with vendors, as well, and has helped create a more uniform vendor management process. The new process includes a more formalized contract review before a job begins and then check-ins as it progresses.
Internally, departments and teams are setting smaller goals with more check-ins through a business agility decision making model. Lockridge says this makes it easier to shift midway through a project if necessary.
Departments are also working on value stream mapping, which helps them visualize their processes, Lockridge says. This removes redundancies and unnecessary activities so the work is more efficient.
“We want every department to do this so we’re all pointing in the same direction,” Lockridge says.
As Cameron Mutual revamps its processes, it’s putting more emphasis on employee’s professional development. Expanding products and coverage types gives employees the opportunity to try new things and grow in their careers, she says.
“We understand every person is different and we want to play to their strengths,” she says.
Cameron has recently hired a new human resources director to “focus on employee experience,” Lockridge says. She plans to work with the director on policies to ensure every employee is given professional development opportunities.
Taking care of employees during the COVID-19 pandemic has also been a priority, she says. According to Lockridge, most employees are now working remotely or in a hybrid model. Everyone was given a survey last year to share their preference, as well as information about their communication and work styles.
Lockridge says the pandemic has reinforced that employees work best when their needs and preferences are considered.
“We want to be the company everyone wants to work with and make it easy for our agents to do business with us,” she says. “We’re shifting the way we operate and perform, and it feels like we’re ready to turn the corner and I’m really excited about that.”
Best place to work
Having a supportive workplace is part of the reason she’s been at Cameron Insurance for 14 years.
Between the growth opportunities and the care she says staff exhibit with coworkers and customers, she wants the company to be recognized for the culture it’s fostered. She’s preparing to apply for a “best place to work” award so the company can continue attracting quality agents and staff, as well as new customers.
Lockridge’s title at Cameron has always included general counsel, although she’s picked up other responsibilities. She’s also been corporate secretary, secretary and vice president of human resources, and now, secretary and executive vice president.
Along with her general counsel duties, she currently provides executive support for the claims, underwriting and human resources departments.
“No day can I wake up and know what I’ll be working on that day,” Lockridge says. “I can make a to do list, but you never know what will come up. It keeps the job challenging and exciting.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer IV 2021 Edition here.
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