A match made on higher ground

When Jeff Woodman and John Cison founded Woodman Cison & Associates, their business strategy was simple—be known for an intense focus on doing the right thing for clients.

They’ve been doing business in Prospect Heights, Illinois, since 2007. In the last ten years, following that North Star of connection, trust, and respect has allowed the agency to realize impressive growth and a reputation for personal lines expertise, as well as a client base that relies on them as true advocates.

Woodman Cison & Associates specializes in personal insurance, as well as offering business and life coverage. Both partners have deep experience in the industry, bringing them a true understanding of their clients’ needs. Prior to founding Woodman Cison, Jeff ran his own independent agency for five years after receiving his MBA. John joined in 2007, bringing 15 years of industry experience and relationships. Both partners are based in the Chicago area, and also maintain strong ties with real estate and mortgage brokers.


A focus on doing the right thing


Jeff Woodman believes that Woodman Cison’s approach to customer relationships is what makes them different. First and foremost, they see themselves as consultants for their clients. That means for all clients, they take individual responsibility to understand their needs—even if that means taking extra steps or even visiting them in person at their home. They know insurance is an important financial decision—one that’s often complex and is best made with an advisor who can help you understand the coverages and customizations available. Their view is to offer choices and an intelligent perspective that addresses the client’s situation.

“Most of our clients are highly successful people, but we treat everybody the same, whether they’re buying a $5 million house or a $500K condo,” he says. “That’s both our moral compass and our value proposition. It works for us, because if you treat people right they’ll stay with you, and you never know where that’s going to lead.”

“We take a consulting approach and try to maximize their dollar. We’ll let our clients know what’s covered and what’s not covered. We’re their advocate, recommending the carrier we think will help them most and helping them talk with adjusters and risk managers as needed. We’ll help them decide how high they’re going to want their deductible to be and help them file a claim when they need it. We’re there for them at every turn with advice and action.”

It’s an approach that’s worked well for Woodman Cison. They continue to grow their business from referrals year-over-year, attesting to the strength of their relationships.


Selective, because who you do business with reflects on you


Running a business that’s focused on doing right by their clients means that Woodman Cison is particularly thoughtful in selecting their partnerships. That means in carrier selection, they look for partners who will stay true to their hallmarks of trust, accessibility, and listening—ones that will place the same importance on doing the right thing for their customers as they do.

Like any good relationship, that means being committed to making each other better.

“I hold my carrier’s feet to the fire,” says Jeff. “I expect them to back us up when we’re out there on the front lines representing them. But it’s a two-way street: they also expect a lot out of me: to write a good, profitable book of business and serve the client well.” He adds with a laugh, “Neither of us wants any surprises.”

While Woodman Cison does not typically take on new markets, Jeff says he and John decided that they wanted to do business with Berkley One because they knew their team shared a similar philosophy. Having worked with Christoph Ritterson, the new company’s SVP of Marketing, he added:

“Christoph is one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.” Jeff said. “His involvement was what led us to want to be on board with Berkley One. Because of him and others I’ve met there, we have a good idea that our values will be aligned.”

Likewise, Ritterson says Woodman Cison is emblematic of the kind of agent Berkley One wants to do business with. “We’re looking for people who want to engage with us in building something new that works better for everyone. John and Jeff are rooted in their community. We know they’re extending their personal reputations every time they work with a carrier—who they do business with is, in a way, the insurance policy for their reputation.”

And while Berkley One opened for business in Illinois just two weeks ago, we’ve already been working with Jeff and his team on new ways to work smarter together. “Jeff was one of the participants in the development of an agency portal, an ‘always on’ platform for agents to streamline the way they work with us. We know he’s selective in who he partners with, and we’re honored that he’s working with us,” Ritterson said.

Woodman Cison & Associates provides auto insurance, homeowners, condo and renters insurance, boat and marine insurance, life insurance, and business insurance.

Berkley One is a Berkley Company.