Team Members Profile
Chairman EmeritusSkip’s 44 year career has spanned the entire Property and Casualty insurance industry, working at insurance companies as well as the largest insurance brokerage houses. Skip began his career working for several insurance companies learning coverage language, policy rating and claims management. In the 1970’s he joined Marsh & McLennan where he developed an Errors and Omissions Insurance plan for over 4,500 Century 21 agents, and was involved in insuring a number of Fortune 2500 companies. In the 1990’s Skip joined Dodge, Warren and Peters ultimately serving as its President and CEO as it grew into the 66th largest insurance brokerage in the United States. In 2004, USI purchased DWP and in 2007 Skip joined with longtime colleagues Christopher Cordill and Bernadette Jackson to form High Ground Insurance Services in Torrance. Skip has served on many insurance company agency committees. He was a Southern California Chairman of PACER, which is CNA Insurance Group’s agency advisory committee, and served on agency advisory committees of the Home, Royal, Fireman’s Fund, Hartford, Superior National and Pacific Rim Insurance Companies at various times over the years. He has held the Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation since 1986, and received his designation of Certified Risk Manager (CRM) in 2002.
Executive Vice President – Principal
Vice PresidentEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org Direct: (424) 247-2309
Real Solutions for workers compensation problems
SummaryAfter 15 years in the printing business, transitioning into the insurance business has been a natural progression for me as both businesses are very much about relating to people and solving problems. My focus lies in helping companies that are having costly challenges with workers compensation insurance to become more profitable. I help my clients understand that they can control workers compensation costs by being more involved and using certain strategies to solve long term claims and injury management issues. If the correct systems and procedures are in place before injuries occur they are far less costly and easier to manage. It takes a team of skilled people to help an employer see where the biggest problems are, what needs to be done to solve them and then executing that solution. I lead a team of claims management, loss control, employment practices, and human resources consultants who combine to produce the best possible outcome in complex situations. In my spare time I can usually be found at the beach surfing or kite boarding. I enjoy vacationing in Indonesia because that’s where the best waves in the world can be found.
Property/ Casualty Claims Coordinator
Customer Service Representative
Property and CasualtyJuan serves as a responsive and diligent point of contact for clients under his portfolio and is responsible for general administrative duties such as the issuance of certificates of insurance, change requests, review of policies and preparation and billing of premium. Our clients are our partners. Being proactive in supporting our partners is an attribute I bring from having worked at previous fortune 500 companies. High Ground Insurance Services is my home away from home and I enjoy the strongly supportive environment. I began my career in the insurance industry with a large national brokerage firm that taught me the fundamentals of the business. My goal is to understand and champion Customer Service day to day including auditing, reconciling and providing best in class service and support to High Ground clients. With a professional accounting background before joining the insurance industry I find that I can often utilize that skillset and large national brokerage experience to be proactive in handling client’s needs. I reside in Rancho Palos Verdes. I enjoy spending time with my children and exercising to include running and a competitive “pick up game” of basketball.
President – Principal
PresidentI have spent my career helping business owners find solutions to expensive employee relations issues such as difficult hiring situations, worker’s compensation claims, and employment practices problems. My approach to risk management is that the successful placement of an insurance program comes last..after we have optimized the loss control program, human resources administration, and implemented targeted claims management practices. Early in my career I laid a foundation in employee related risk management services by working in loss prevention, premium audit and worker’s compensation claims management for a large commercial insurance company. In 1989 I joined Dodge Warren and Peters as a client retention specialist and later served on the Board of Directors before the company’s sale to USI in 2004. In recent years I have been invited to speak to local business associations about insurance-related issues impacting the local economy. As a livelong South Bay resident I graduated from BIOLA University and maintain a professional insurance designation from the National Insurance Education Association as a Certified Insurance Councilor (CIC). I lives in Torrance with my wife and three children and enjoy anything with two wheels in my spare time
Executive Vice President – Principal
Executive Vice President – Administration,
Chief Financial Officer & PrincipalBernadette began her insurance career in 1973 as a Commercial Property and Casualty underwriter. She later headed up a private captive was Vice President of Underwriting for a national auto program and negotiated various reinsurance contracts. Her experience also includes Account Executive, Administration Manager and Vice President of Marketing for Dodge, Warren and Peters. Bernadette is a past President of the South Bay Professional Insurance Agents Association (PIA) and member of the Board of Directors for the South Bay Independent Agents. Bernadette furthered her education by obtaining the Chartered Property and Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation in 1989 and Associate in Risk Management (ARM) designation in 1997.
Executive Vice President – Principal
Property & CasualtyEmail: email@example.com Direct: 424-247-2285 Jeff specializes in solving complex insurance and risk management issues for medium sized companies. He is an expert at insurance issues involving commercial printers, car washes, golf courses, manufacturers, distributors, and commercial subcontractors. Jeff began his insurance career with the agency of Dodge, Warren and Peters (DWP) as an Account Executive for new business. Jeff joined United Agencies/High Ground Insurance Services at its inception, with other former DWP/USI people to continue to be of service to his clients. Jeff graduated from Cal State Dominguez Hills and later attended the Hartford School of Insurance. He is now working on his CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) designation. Jeff currently resides in Palos Verdes, is married with two young boys.
Vice President- Property & Casualty
Property & CasualtyKevin is Vice President at United Agencies High Ground. He specializes in complex middle market accounts that require a high degree of energy and insurance expertise. Clients that have selected Kevin as their risk manager/insurance broker because he is driven, loyal, and available 24/7 for his client’s needs. Kevin specializes in wholesalers and distributors as well as manufacturers, retailers and various nonprofits including Synagogues and charitable organizations. Kevin is a native of Southern California and is a graduate of University of California Santa Barbara. After completing his education Kevin spent some time in commercial real estate before entering the insurance industry. In addition to his leadership in various sports leagues he participates in golf and softball in his spare time.
Executive Vice President, Employee Benefits – Principal
Employee BenefitsEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org Direct: 424-247-2283
Employee Benefits Design and Management
SummaryMy career focus is helping medium to large businesses develop and manage employee benefit programs that help retain talented employees in turn, ensuring the business will thrive. Human Resource managers today face many challenges with regards to compliance, acquisition and retention of talent and providing a competitive package of benefits to meet company goals and all within financial constraints…… I assist in creating and consulting on these issues and help the HR manager stay ahead of trends. The tools I often use consist of online HR resource portals, Legal compliance consulting,(including bi lingual services), Health fairs, and education refreshers for employees. My goal is to be an extension of the HR department, eliminating the majority of the workload within the scope of Employee Benefits. My background is uniquely suited for my role in this industry being educated in all lines of coverage. After gaining my foundation in insurance at a National retail brokerage firm I transitioned to High Ground Insurances where I have led the Employee Benefits practice for the last 7 years.
Administration and Training Coordinator
Account Manager – Property & CasualtyOne of my personal goals at United Agencies/High Ground is to help the talented Account Executives, Account Managers, and Account Assistants at our agency reach their full professional potential and see the rewards that flow from a well-functioning agency. To do so I employ a mixture of formal training, informal mentoring, and cooperative learning that takes into account the fact that no two individuals succeed in exactly the same way. When a new employee joins our agency I ask two questions; “How can we help you achieve your career goals?” and “What have you learned previously that we might use to improve our agency operations.” Kristen joined United Agencies/High Ground in 2010 to assist our team on various projects in Commercial Lines, Benefits and Management departments as needed. She brings 26 years of experience in the insurance industry beginning at Jack Sonntag Insurance and Frankel and Company. She spent 14 years at Dodge, Warren & Peters Insurance as a Technical Assistant and Supervisor. Kristen took 2 years off to spend with her children and returned to Dodge, Warren & Peters as a lead on special projects and training. She spent 3 years at Brakke-Schafnitz Insurance as an Account Manager and came full circle in 2010 to return to work with former co-workers and management at High Ground Insurance. Kristen lives in Torrance, with her husband and has two children in college.
Account Manager- Property & Casualty
Property & CasualtyPaula began her career as a File Clerk at Crum & Forster in Southfield, MI straight out of high school and was promoted to the commercial underwriting department. She moved herself across the country and continued in insurance; working in personal lines until she could work her way into a commercial lines position. Paula gained experience working small accounts for agencies in the San Fernando Valley. She moved to the South Bay with her husband in 1990 and began working with Dodge, Warren & Peters, shortly after their move, where the size of her accounts grew to the mid-market to large account sizes. Paula took a brief five year retirement from insurance to stay home with her two small children. During that time she became very involved in the school and PTA. She worked her way back into the insurance business holding a couple part time positions and was very happy to join High Ground in March 2012, full time, as an Account Manager. Knowing the management team and other co-workers Paula felt at home right away. In her spare time Paula likes to cook, spend time with her family, and continues to volunteer at the high school and with her church’s youth group.
ControllerSandy is a founding member of United Agencies/High Ground Insurance Services and created and maintains their accounting structure. Sandy has extensive experience in accounting with several agencies over the last 30 years. Sandy has been instrumental in helping High Ground achieve a fluid workflow system and procedures as it relates to accounting.
Account Manager – Property & Casualty
Property & CasualtyKaren has thirty plus years in the insurance industry managing commercial accounts. She is also a founding member of the United Agencies/High Ground Insurance Services. She began her career with Unigard and Westfield Insurance Companies in the early 70’s and quickly moved to the underwriting department as a Property Underwriter. By the late 70’s she moved to the agency side of the business where she worked in personal lines and by the early 80’s she was working as a commercial account manager for an agency in Orange County. After the birth of her son she stepped down to a support staff role at Dodge Warren & Peters so she would have more time for family. She likes to say that it was the best career decision she ever made. It’s there that she met the founding members of High Ground Insurance. She is back working as an Account Manager but likes to think of herself as a team player and doesn’t limit herself to any one role.
Account Executive – Property & Casualty
Property & CasualtyKelly has 15 years’ experience growing and managing a block of insurance business. Kelly also oversees the New Business Department and Carrier relationships. He provides in-house IT support for United Agencies/High Ground Insurance Services, with a smile. Kelly’s prior experiences in the staffing, automotive and computer industry in sales and management capacity brings value added perspective to the team. Kelly graduated from Biola University (La Mirada, CA) with a Bachelor’s degree in Business. Kelly is happily married, resides in the South Bay with two beautiful daughters and active in his local community.
Senior Vice President
Senior Vice PresidentI have worked for 35 years to build a team of financial support experts to help business owners like you - people who love their jobs and wished that they had more time in the day to do the work that makes them profit. We are looking to partner with business owners like yourself to help you by bringing our team to your table to help make sense of these ever changing business responsibilities. Our goal; design a Plan of Action to eliminate the profit thieves from your business. Specialties: Safety & Loss Prevention, Employee Related Issues, Aggressive Workers Compensation Claims Management, 401K Audits, Affordable Health Care Law Advice and here's the critical component to everything we do; we will create a Plan of Action custom designed to fit your needs and your issues - this is what we will provide to help you focus on your business. Business Insurance? Sure… but it's one of the last things we will talk with you about. Helping businesses succeed and thrive is our passion - partnering with professional people who are just as passionate is critical. Can we help you? Ralph joined the High Ground team in 2010. He is formerly the president of The Lilly Company, Inc. which has been an affiliated agency of United Agencies since 1993. The Lilly Company was started in April of 1959 by Ralph’s dad, Ed Lilly. The Lilly family has been in the insurance industry since 1873. Today you can find Ralph on any weekend either coaching his daughter’s travel softball team or umpiring a baseball game somewhere in the South Bay. He has been married to his lovely wife, Rochelle for 25 years and lives in Redondo Beach with his son, Matthew and daughter, Hannah.
Senior Vice President
Senior Vice PresidentRalph earned his MBA from Pepperdine University, is a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) and has 39 years of experience in the insurance industry. His early years were spent with an insurance company, beginning in the field of adjusting and later progressing into positions of supervision and management in the areas of claims and legal services, sales and marketing. He gained considerable knowledge of insurance company loss control and underwriting functions as his various positions of responsibilities brought him into close contact with these other aspects of insurance company operations. Ralph applies his education, insurance knowledge and experience to meet his client’s risk management needs. Managing risk is an ongoing process, meeting the challenges of a changing business environment. Identification of the various risks businesses face and their potential impact on operations, and decisions on ways to handle such risk, for example, to insure, self-insure or transfer are all part of the risk management process. Ralph has considerable experience working with clients in the fields of manufacturing, wholesale, construction and property ownership/management. Ralph enjoys golf and walking with his wife along the ocean front of the South Bay.
Chief Operating Officer – Principal
Senior Vice President Construction PracticeEmail: email@example.com Direct: 424-247-2287
Insurance and Risk Management for the Construction Industry
SummaryFor over 30 years I have been helping my clients anticipate and respond to changes in the legal/risk management/insurance environment. My goal is to position my clients as leaders in anticipating risk management challenges and help them prepare solutions. I find the placement of insurance is most successful if it follows a reexamination of a organization’s risk management status – we need to look first at contractual relationships/risk transfer, loss control, and claims management. I commonly use tools such as tailored insurance products, contract management staff training, risk cost modeling, contractual requirement consulting, claims management, and loss control management to achieve a stable and balanced risk management program. This year we are focusing on helping our clients prepare for the ACA January 2015 deadline with an affordable, ACA complaint alternative to traditional health insurance. We are also helping our clients navigate the indemnity and insurance changes brought about by Senate Bill 474 and the new additional insured endorsements.
Account Manager - Property & Casualty
Property & CasualtyMichele began her insurance career at USI, Inc. where she met the soon-to-be-owners of High Ground Insurance Services.She was an invaluable resource in creating the agency, and has remained so as she has blossomed into more technical work, and growing within the Agency from an assistant/receptionist to an Account Manager. She has earned her AINS and CISR designations and is currently working on her CPCU. Michele currently lives in Manhattan Beach and has earned a reputation here in the office as being an exceptional baker. Never a crumb left!
Senior Account Manager – Property & Casualty
Joyce joined United Agencies in August of 2011 and brings to the team over 25 years of experience in the commercial lines Insurance industry. She began her career with Insurance Company of North America as an Underwriter and moved to the Agency side of the business in 1979, working with some of the top Insurance Agencies in Southern California. During her professional career a few of the positions she has held include Commercial Lines Manager, Marketing Representative, Senior Underwriter, and Regional Systems Trainer. Joyce brings insurance knowledge, organizational and communication skills to our Construction Practice team. Joyce is active in her church and community.
Account Manager- Property & Casualty
Senior Account Manager
Property & CasualtyErin Rosaire has been a part of High Ground Insurance Services, Inc, a few years now. She specializes in Commercial Property & Casualty risks, focusing on Middle Market and is a licensed Property & Casualty Broker. She has more than 15 years of experience in the insurance industry and is well versed in all types of coverage for many industries. She has been an insurance company marketing representative, a direct writer and an independent insurance broker giving her the full range of insurance experience. She previously worked for a full service agency where she was a Senior Account Executive with responsibilities including meeting with clients, risk management, servicing of accounts, mid-marketing, renewal marketing, claims analysis and policy quality control. She is currently pursuing a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation and Associate in Risk Management (ARM) designations.
Accounting SpecialistEsther is the smiling face you see when you first enter our offices. She joined the HGIS team in March 2010 as a technical assistant and has since expanded her knowledge and expertise by transitioning into the Accounting Dept. Esther assists in the Accounting functions of the office to help keep the financial aspects of our organization running smoothly. Esther resides in Torrance with her husband and three children
Account Manager - Property & CasualtyVeronica joined the High Ground team in 2015 after serving for eight years as the lead Account Manager for a small insurance brokerage in Long Beach. She began her career in the insurance industry in 1998 with a mid-sized brokerage in Century City working her way up from a data entry clerk to Account Manager. Veronica earned her Bachelors’ Degree in Social Work from Cal State Long Beach and her Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix where she was a classmate of Shaquille O’Neal. Focusing more recently on insurance specific education Veronica has earned her Certificate of General Insurance, Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) designation, and is currently working on a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. She understands the importance of making sure the insurance needs of customers are met and prides herself on providing excellent customer service. When away from the office, Veronica enjoys spending time with her husband and two children.
Account Manager – Property & Casualty
Jessica joined United Agencies/High Ground in 2015 with thirty years’ experience in the insurance industry. She began her career with a major national broker in Portland Oregon as an account assistant and has progressed steadily since. She made professional education a focus and was awarded a Certified Insurance Service Representative (CISR) designation in 1994 and later earned a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. She continues to take additional classes to learn about the changes in the industry. Jessica specializes in Contractors, Non-Profits and Manufacturers but is currently expanding her knowledge in additional areas including Retail, Entertainment, and the Food Service industry. She enjoys working with clients and helping them with their questions and concerns. Besides loving the World of Insurance she also enjoys spending every weekend on adventures with her husband. They can be seen at the Theatre, Hollywood Bowl, Sporting Events, or on a Road Trip to some new place.
Customer Service Representative - Property & Casualty
Customer Service Representative - Property & CasualtyBarbara was born and raised in the Philippines and came to the United States after completing her Bachelor of Science Degree. She initially worked as a Photo Researcher and Account Associate at Getty Images later entering the insurance industry with a local agency in Santa Monica. After gaining initial experience there she moved to another Westside agency where she served as a Commercial Lines Associate for ten years. During that time Barbara completed her coursework and earned a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation. In 2015 Barbara joined United Agencies / High Ground as a Customer Service Representative. She has proven to be a well-organized, fast-learner, hard-working, flexible and dynamic team member who enjoys meeting the needs of our diverse commercial clientele. In her spare time Barbara enjoys travelling, volunteering at charitable events, playing with children, cooking, watching movies, and other activities with her husband in Marina Del Rey.
Benefits Account Manager
Benefits Account ManagerHealthcare and Benefits Olivia joined the High Ground Insurance team in the fall of 2017. Olivia Salinas brings over 17 years of experience in the health insurance sector. As an account manager, Olivia specializes in medical health plans, dental, vision, long & short disability plans, group life and voluntary plans, as well as benefits in general such as flexible spending accounts, leave of absence processing and COBRA. Olivia provides daily hands-on service to our clients, offering timely, creative solutions to meet their needs, managing and solving benefits issues, coordinating with carriers and customer’s staff, establishing budgets for healthcare related expenses, and intervening with carriers as needed. Olivia often travels to High Ground Insurance customers locations to conduct benefit explanation and enrollment meetings. Olivia is a valuable asset because of the breadth of knowledge, experience, and ability to explain in both English and Spanish. Prior to joining High Ground Insurance, Olivia worked in Human Resources, including employee benefits, database management and payroll processing. Olivia also worked as a Project Manager of a benefits administration system. She has made an excellent addition to our team.
Customer Service Representative
Customer Service Representative - Property and Casualty – Trade Credit Insurance