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Back to Basics Using Technology – 78th Annual NAIIA Conference

Owner of Ouellette & Associates, J. Mathew Ouellette, was sworn in as the new President of the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters, at the 78th Annual NAIIA Conference at Kingsmill Resort in Williamsburg, VA June 24-28, 2015. This is a photo compilation/video he had put together (Be sure to enlarge video by clicking bottom righthand corner for better viewing — and enjoy the music). Matt’s acceptance speech from the conference is below.

“It is a great honor and privilege to be elected as the President or our Association. I welcome this opportunity to serve all NAIIA member firms during the 2015-2016 year.

Time will not allow me to thank the many people in and out of this room; however, bear with me as I mention a few.

My mentor, my best friend, my Father, Joe Ouellette, President 1985-86. 30 years ago today, he took the oath of office under Unity and Strength, which he has emulated as a businessman, a Father, and a proud grandfather. Although when I went to work for him 30 years ago, and he fired me 3 times, failure was not an option. I kept coming back. And I am so grateful I did, as without his guidance and leadership, I would not be standing in front of you all this evening.

I am blessed to have all 4 of my children with me tonight. My son Nathan, who has chosen the path as an Adjuster for Ouellette & Associates and has taught me so much about life. My son Drew, who has so much potential, and the signs of a young man with perseverance and determination in the face of many difficulties. My Princess Ashley… what does a Father say to his only daughter? Ms. Ashley, as we call her, has beauty, humor and her ability to handle situations as the only girl amongst Ouellette men is mystifying. And last but not least, my youngest son, Jon. He’s quiet, meek at times, and has the ability to get along with anyone and brings a smile to me every time I am with him.

This past year, I served under Jim Hunt. He, like Mark Nixon, has become a brotherly figure to me, teaching me the ropes – not only in becoming the President, but more importantly, on paying it forward amd being honest in all my affairs. You both are true friends, my brothers.

As I get to know Peter Crosa, he, too, has become a friend with good solid advice and is an extremely intelligent man.

Brenda Reengineer has seen me through my very darkest days, and she prayed for me as I healed and continue to do so one day at a time. I am forever grateful for your friendship and your belief that I would overcome obstacles that once left me a shallow man. I love you.

And to the staff of Ouellette & Associates, who has been such a support over the last 15 years – always taking care of the business again and again through the thick and thin. For this, I am forever grateful.

Now to the business at hand, I chose “Back to Basics Using Technology” as my theme. As a membership that is full of visionaries for the future and with what technology has done for us, we cannot forget our roots. I believe that when Lawrence Gouldman took the office as the first President of the NAIIA, he had no idea how far we would come with respect to better effectively handling the multitude of claim assignments we would be faced with in this day and age. His basic principles that were the root of our association in 1937 remain in 2015. To provide service to our clients that exceed their expectations; leaving no stone unturned; reporting our findings to our clients in such a manner that the examiners we report to do not have to second guess our recommendations of how a claim should be investigated; and our clients’ best interests be protected.

Now we have technology to help us, to provide our handling of these claims that used to have to be mailed, statements taken on drums of a film, pictures taken with a Polaroid, roof inspections that would take hours to measure and scope, now we have software, satellites, digital cameras, and yes now drones all working together to provide a work product second to none.

All of this is really good stuff and we must embrace all the technological tools we have to enhance our handling, but there are many things that have not changed since 1937, on receipt of an assignment immediate contacts made, appointments met, calls returned, e-mails replied to promptly and most importantly reporting on time. Our personal interaction with insured’s and claimants are a must.

With this said we cannot do any of this alone, we are a membership of highly intelligent folks all having specialties that we can learn from, get to know your member firms, network with them all, we are all in this together to promote the Unity & Strength of the NAIIA.

Over the years we have seen a drastic decrease in member firms, due to changes in the industry, and the use of IA firms, and mergers

Some firms do not see the value of membership. This point I see as an incorrect view, we only get out of our membership what we put into our membership, encourage those who do not attend regional or national conventions to come, as if one puts forth the effort to network the dividends are endless.

In closing I want to stress the need for change in our exposure, President Hunt put together a Marketing committee to promote the NAIIA within trade publications; our web site is under construction to maximize our exposure through the industry through optimization of social media. My goal is to have a NAIIA Call Center, as a membership we have a missing link, our competitors nationally have call centers that are marketed to make it easy for clients and carriers looking for good IA firms to handle claims without having to look through a book, or search the web and vet the best suited firm to handle any claim they may have. With Bin Tech as the vendor we have been working with, and the input of over 65% of the member firms that have opted in we have a solid filtering system that will make it easy for clients we currently work for and clients that are looking for a member firm that is independently owned and operated to handle their specific claim.

With the marketing committee, and each and every firm marketing the NAIIA when marketing their own firms, as well as the opening up of a NAIIA Call Center, we have true value for your membership.

Now, as President of the NAIIA this year, with God’s help, I will pledge to serve our association to the best of my ability. Thank You.”

Annual Staff Meeting 2015 Notes

Unity & Strength with Experience

J. Mathew Ouellette, President Elect NAIIA 2014/2015As I prepare to take the position as the 78th President of the NAIIANational Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters, the theme for my term is just that, “Unity & Strength with Experience.” This is what the member firms of the NAIIA display, and at Ouellette & Associates, we do our best to emulate this into our daily handling of claims from various Insurance Carriers, both personal & commercial, Self-Insured Long Haul Trucking, Lloyds of London Syndicates, and various TPA firms.

As one can imagine, having a diverse group of clientele makes our jobs very interesting – as no two claim assignments are the same. Each client has different guidelines, reporting instructions and expectations. This made for a productive meeting to review our client companies one by one, and set goals to exceed the requirements of each.

Changes in Our Team & Marketing Efforts

This last year brought many changes. Our bookkeeper of 8 years left (on good terms) for a position at a company with further growth potential. Temporarily, we had a replacement who left due to family obligations. Fortunately, we were able to locate a perfect match for “Team Ouellette” with Wendi Hill beginning 1-20-15 as our bookkeeper and liaison for continued education, publications, and assistance with our new Social Media Campaign. We are now “linked in” with LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and YouTube. Since we launched our new optimized website, built by Trisha Barton of A-Game Strategic Marketing last year, the organic traffic to our site has grown by 900% over the prior year. This and our new social media efforts are the beginning of us putting new technology to work to better and cost-effectively gather support information for the assignments we are given.

Implementation of Drone, “Maverick”

We implemented our first Drone, “Maverick,” which has flown 4 inspection flights thus far – avoiding the cost of a bucket truck rental at $1,200.00 to only $150.00 – a savings of $1,050.00. With our drone, we found the claimed damage was a maintenance issue. If damage would have been found, we could have enlisted the services of a contractor to access the roof and reach an agreed scope and estimate at no lift cost for the opportunity the contractor would have to bid of the project.

NAIIA Call Center

The NAIIA member firms voted unanimously to engage the services of a 24/7/365 Call Center, where Carriers, Self-Insured Long Haul Trucking and TPA Firms can call or e-mail an assignment to a central location.  Given the type of claim assignment and zip code, a qualified NAIIA member firm will be immediately contacted with the claim information and immediately begin work based on the handling instructions. The NAIIA Call Center will stand out among the rest, as if at any time there would be a concern or a client wants to speak with the owner of the firm, that member firm owner will respond.  No more going through 5 different people to speak with the person in charge.

Taking Advantage of a Slower Time

The last 4 months have been slower than usual for Property Claim Assignments in general, from the insurance carriers having low Property Claim volume, trickling down to the IA firms having less assignments. It’s okay, as we have an opportunity to fine-tune our adjusting skills and market, network, partner with salvage buyers, network in the National Subrogation Specialist, and attend continued education courses.

Fortunately being diverse we have seen an uptick of Casualty, General Liability, and unfortunately, rare homicide cases to investigate.

In closing, I would like to thank Christy Watson and Mama Bears Bakery & Cafe‘s coffee and pastries, which helped the motivation of our staff during this 8-hour meeting. (See pics from our team dinner at Izakaya on Facebook.)  

More importantly, I want to thank the clients with whom we currently receive claim assignments – and say to those who have not tried our services, we certainly would appreciate your consideration.


Matt Ouellette