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Senior Claims Analyst Mariane Nichols Likes the Action
By John Millrany - August 14, 2001

Mariane Nichols, senior claims analyst at Kemper Insurance Cos., is a dues-paying adjuster who has traveled much of the world and has come full-circle in working the insurance beat.

"Insurance has changed a lot from 1989 to the present," she says, "but I’ve enjoyed every phase I’ve been in. I’ve made a lot of friends along the way."

A graduate of Gonzaga University in Washington state, Mariane majored in psychology and personnel management. These disciplines have helped her in many ways, maybe not always intended as such, but they’ve helped just the same.

Mariane, who would like to retire in about 10 years, when she will only be in her early 50s, has always enjoyed "where the action is." Born in Hawaii of Filipino heritage, she graduated from Kauai High School in 1978 and headed stateside for college.

She got her first insurance stint at a new Fireman’s Fund office in Reno, NV, learning auto liability. There she found out about the reality of lay-offs ("there were big ones right about then") and after only 18 months, when the Reno office closed, she was back in Hawaii, landing a position at Hawaiian Insurance Group-Lihue, getting her first exposure to workers’ compensation and property.

Mariane discovered an emerging pattern. In order to make more money, sometimes you had to move. In order to keep your equilibrium (sanity?), sometimes you had to pull in your horns and not make impossible commutes to the office.

"My movements to various companies were either due to money or the company moved farther than I was willing to commute.

"Unfortunately in claims-handling, burnout is very common! In my case…well, I’m a Type A: everything has to be neat, prompt and timely.

"I did experience burnout in 1996, so I took a supervisor position for the clerical staff and did a minor case-load of claims. I then got bored in a year—and went back to full-blown litigated cases!"

Along the way, she counted in her resume positions at Keenan & Associates in Emeryville, from 1989-91, working in self-insurance plans for the Contra Costa Unified School Districts, Greenfield & Thompson in Milpitas-Pleasanton, from1991-92 in varied accounts, Adjustco/Preferred Works in Santa Clara from 1992-99, back in self-insureds for Stanford Hospital, and Argonaut Insurance in San Jose from 2000 to earlier this year.

"When you’re in self-insurance, the bottom line is, you have to really cater to your client. They’re paying your salary, so you’d better perform. That has never been a problem for me, and I keep up to date with all continuing education (CE) programs that are out there.

"Since (insurance) is a small ‘family’ industry, you never burn bridges. I’ve always given two to three weeks’ notice before moving on, and I always put in full hours. That’s why I’m still friends with all my past employers."

Now at Kemper, she’s contented with a doable commute from her home in Gilroy, where she lives with her husband, Allen, to the office in San Jose. "I enjoy the close-knit atmosphere at Kemper Insurance. Management is very supportive."


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