Best West Agency to Work For: Chapman Insurance Group

By | September 30, 2010

It’s easy to feel good about your job when you’re helping people that help underserved communities. That’s why Greg Chapman, president of Chapman Insurance Group didn’t seem all that surprised that his agency was selected as the Insurance Journal Best Agency to Work For in the West region.

For more than 35 years, Chapman Insurance Group has provided insurance for nonprofits and social service agencies, such as homeless shelters, Boys and Girls Clubs of America and hospitals. Terry Chapman, who founded the company in 1973, began focusing on insurance for nonprofits since writing the first malpractice policy for Free Clinics in 1968. Over the years, he grew his small, family-run company and relationships in the industry, so that the company now, including benefits, writes about $100 million in annual premium and represents more than 2,200 social service agencies throughout the western United States.

Viewed as an expert in the nonprofit insurance niche, Terry Chapman coauthored the book, “Am I covered for …? A Comprehensive Guide to Insuring Your Nonprofit Organization,” which often is referred to as “the Nonprofit Insurance Bible.” And his son Greg is a faculty member at The Center for Nonprofit Management in Los Angeles and Sacramento.

But the company’s 48 employees say there’s a lot more to the agency than specializing in a feel-good industry. In particular, employees voiced appreciation over the fact that the company is run as a “meritocracy.”

At Chapman, employees have control over the work they do because they are paid on a percent of revenue on the size of book they handle — retention and new business — not the number of years they’ve been employed with the company, explained Greg Chapman.

“The newest person, if he or she can handle a lot of business, can be the highest-paid employee. Compensation is all merit-based, and everyone knows where they stand all the time,” he said.

This comes in handy when employees experience life changes. For instance, if an employee says his children are starting school and wants to leave on time every day and handle less business, the company is OK with transferring accounts to another employee. “A few years later when the kids are in college and the employee has more time and wants ramp up his business again, as long as he’s hitting the servicing standards, he can get more business and increase his compensation,” Greg Chapman said.

That also means there are no surprises when it’s time for an annual review. Because compensation is tied to the size of business and employees receive feedback constantly, there’s no need to discuss money during a performance review. So the annual review process at Chapman has morphed into a training opportunity. Employees receive 360-degree reviews, in which peers give feedback on each other, so that the reviews are constructive and collaborative. Greg Chapman said the process breeds a team environment in which everyone benefits.

It’s also efficient: The agency was recently honored with an award for superior performance and efficiency by MarshBerry, a mergers and acquisitions consulting firm.

As one client advisor said: Chapman is a “rare and special place to work.” Employee benefits include flexible work schedules, the ability to telecommute every other day (especially handy given Los Angeles’ notorious traffic jams), and company-paid time to volunteer for charitable activities.

“Chapman is a very progressive firm where people are empowered to work to their full potential,” said another employee. The company “has created an environment where employees are respected for who they are and encouraged to contribute to the greater [good] of their fellow employees.”


Overall: Barney & Barney, San Diego, California

East: KMRD Partners, Warrington, Pennsylvania

South Central: Bryan Insurance Agency, Graham, Texas

Southeast: Seitlin Group, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Midwest: Wine Sergi & Co., St. Charles, Illinois

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