Insurance Careers Month Employee Spotlight: Brenda Noriega

The insurance industry offers numerous rewarding career paths. In honor of Insurance Careers Month, we’re featuring three different generations of Alper Team Members to explore what they do and why they love coming to work every day.

Meet Brenda Noriega, Commercial Lines Account Assistant and Millennial

What are your job responsibilities?
Currently, I assist a Senior Account Manager with renewals and new business processes for commercial Clients.

What brought you to a career in the insurance industry?
It was a complete accident! I was a hairstylist before I got into insurance and realized that I wanted a career that would challenge me more. I especially like the wide variety of Clientele that allow me to explore different industries such as construction, non–profits, health care, etc.

What is your favorite thing about your job?
I absolutely LOVE meeting business owners and hearing their story. It’s interesting to learn about their particular business risk and help them protect what they’ve worked so hard to create.

What are some key skills you need to be successful in your job?
In my role, being curious and paying close attention to detail is important.

What do you think is the biggest misconception you hear when you tell people your age that you work in insurance?
That it’s boring. INSURANCE IS NEVER BORING! Each Client has their own sets of worries, and it is our job to ask all the right questions in order to create a customized solution. If you like to connect the dots, solve problems, or feel you have a figure-it-out mindset, you will never be bored. Aside from that, I have awesome co-workers that are always there to lend a hand with their industry knowledge.

INSURANCE IS NEVER BORING! Each Client has their own sets of worries, and it is our job to ask all the right questions in order to create a customized solution.

What is your favorite thing about working with Clients and Carriers?
My favorite thing about working with the Clients at Alper Services is that their common goal is to grow their business. We get to be a crucial part of that risk transfer process and make sure that they are protected as they work to meet that goal.

Working with Carriers has been a great experience for me. Since I love to learn, I get to pick their minds on a daily basis. They are very helpful in making sure I understand complex coverages and endorsements.

How would you advise someone to get into the insurance industry if they are looking to start their career path or switch from their current career?
There are many different career avenues in the world of insurance. One example is that you can work for an independent agency or you can work at a brokerage agency. I have had the experience of working for both, but hands down, I much prefer the brokerage model. Because Alper Services is a mid-size brokerage, it allows for flexibility when customizing coverage for an insured because of the strong carrier partners that we have.

What the toughest thing about insurance?
The toughest thing would be knowing that change is a constant and will affect how you do your job. For example, your Client can decide to launch a new office in another country and need expanded coverage that complies with local laws. Or, due to the advancement of technology, your Client might have higher cyber risks and need more coverage. In addition to that, there are laws and regulations that also effect insurance. For instance, now that recreational marijuana is legal it brings a whole host of risks that we are working to educate our Clients about. It is an industry where you need to stay on top of your game and be well-educated or you fall behind quickly.

OSHA Updates Its National Emphasis Programs To Reduce Amputations

OSHA has recently implemented an update to their National Emphasis Programs (NEP) that focuses on industries with high amputations. The new NEP changes how they target manufactures by lowering the inspection standard of criteria. Now, any employers with machinery that can potentially cause amputation will be at an increased risk for an inspection. Inspections will pay particular attention to employee exposure to nip points, pinch points, shear points, cutting actions, and other points of operation.

The NEP has a three month period of education and outreach which runs until March 10, 2020. Employers should plan ahead by reviewing their guards on existing machines, and ensuring employees have been appropriately trained on lockout/tagout standards and procedures.

-Adam McFarland, Claims Administrator


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has made a number of changes to update its National Emphasis Programs (NEP) aimed at reducing amputations in manufacturing industries by adding a targeting methodology for segments with high employer-reported amputation statistics.

OSHA noted that its enforcement history shows that employees are often injured when machinery or equipment is not properly guarded or maintained. “This NEP targets industrial and manufacturing workplaces having machinery and equipment that can potentially cause amputations,” the agency said.

The updated NEP targets industrial and manufacturing workplaces where employees are injured by unguarded or improperly guarded machinery and equipment. The program lists 75 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code industries that will fall under the enhanced inspection regime, including meat and poultry processing facilities, bakeries, wood, plastics and steel manufacturing facilities, among others.

This article by David Sparkman/EHS Today reviews the NEP in detail.

Read More

January Benefits Focus

Our Benefits Focus newsletter provides updates on key Affordable Care Act legislature as well as trends we’re seeing in self-insurance and holistic wellness benefits that employees are requesting. Click here for those stories and more.

It’s Time To Rethink Succession Planning

Like most founder/owners, when Jeff and Sean started their booming tech business in their late 20s, the last thing on their minds was what would happen to the business should they eventually step away, or worse yet die. Twenty-five years later, the two are faced with the never-planned-for scenario: Jeff wants to cash out his shares; Sean’s wife filed for divorce and wants to liquidate her ownership shares, and there is no plan—or next-in-line leadership—to manage the transition while ensuring the longevity of the business.

Sound familiar? According to a 2017 Wilmington Trust survey of 200 small-to-mid-sized businesses, 58% of business owners have no specific succession plan. Like most founders, they enjoyed working together so much that they couldn’t imagine parting ways, and were far too young for their deaths to be a concern. They saw no reason to plan for the inevitable “when” moments that can cripple a business.

If you’re among those with no succession plan, it’s time you rethink the concept. Instead of solely a post-death planning tool, think of a succession plan as a road map to ensure that your goals for the business are realized after your involvement ends. Continue reading

Client Spotlight: Basic Crating & Packaging

With the rise of online shopping, we consumers are all too familiar with the packaging required to ship products without damage from coast to coast. Imagine the protection and complexity required to safely ship multi-ton semi-conductor factory components 10,000 miles around the world.

Alper Services’ Client Basic Crating & Packaging (“Basic Crating”) is a leader in packing, protecting and delivering goods throughout their customers’ value chains — from inbound raw material shipments to outbound delivery of finished goods to their final destination. Whether their customers are sending potentially hazardous materials across the Midwest, or industrial machinery to China, Basic Crating’s team ensures the goods are protected and delivered to their ultimate destination in pristine condition.

Alper’s Gregg Elstien has provided risk management and brokerage services to businesses with which Basic Crating’s CFO Jack Beaumont has been affiliated for more than 20 years, but Alper’s relationship with Basic Crating began when the firm was founded in 2011. Gregg describes, “At the onset of our relationship, Alper provided Basic Crating with workers’ compensation and property/casualty coverage, as well as guidance on facility safety improvements. In 2019, we were honored to take on their employee benefits programs.” Significant improvements in its claims experience and a desire for greater control of its insurance program led Basic Crating to join the Summit Captive in 2019. Continue reading

Dishing Out Care With Our Partners

The Alper and Chubb Volunteers

For the 11th year we partnered with Chubb and Weinstein Wholesale Meats to bring holiday cheer to the homes of 50 families this Thanksgiving. In their typical generous fashion, Weinstein delivered 50 frozen turkeys to the loading dock at The Wrigley Building days prior to celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday. Close on their heels, our partners at Chubb pulled up with the ingredients to prepare all of the traditional sides dishes to accompany the meal.

The holiday meal boxes were assembled and picked up for delivery to families at Sertoma Centre and New Star organizations. Both non-profits serve individuals with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities and those living with mental illness in and around the Chicagoland area. We are thankful for partners who help us serve these exceptional non-profit organizations.

Recently-Passed Illinois Laws Require Important HR Policy Changes

New IL Laws

If you are an Illinois employer, do not delay implementing updates to your employee handbook to keep pace with the many new laws enacted by Governor Pritzker this year.

Significant amendments to the Illinois Equal Pay Act, which became effective September 29th, may require an immediate change in the way you screen candidates for employment. Employers are now prohibited from asking for the candidate’s salary or wage information from his/her current or former employers. The prohibition extends to oral interview questions and written applications. However, a candidate may volunteer prior salary info provided it’s not used by the employer as a basis for hiring.

The changes to the Equal Pay Act are an attempt by the State of Illinois to promote equal pay and reduce the gender pay gap. Employers who are found in violation of the new amendments may be subject to fines of $5,000 per violation and special damages up to $10,000. Read more here.

Two other laws which go into effect on January 1, 2020 aim to enlarge the protections afforded to employees from unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Continue reading